Welcome back to NHL Predictions! Each day, the Last Word on Hockey team will break down every game and give our NHL predictions for each game. This is the early game slate of NHL Predictions. Be sure and check out the late games of NHL Predictions, too.
New Jersey Devils vs. New York Rangers
Head-to-Head: Devils 0 – 0 Rangers
The Hudson River rivalry goes back all the way to the 1980s when the Devils first entered the east coast NHL market. Literally across the Hudson River from each other, it’s always hard-fought when these two teams meet. Both the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers are coming off of fairly lackluster seasons. While the Devils missed the 24-team playoff structure completely, the Rangers were swept by the Carolina Hurricanes in the Stanley Cup Qualifying round. With some incredible draft lottery luck by both teams in the last few years, they have some incredible young talent. Let’s see if that talent lives up to the hype.
The New Jersey Devils have two games under their belt against the dominant Boston Bruins. Holding their own, both games went to overtime. The first they lost in a shootout. The second was won by New Jersey Devil Yegor Sharangovich with two seconds left in OT. The Devils have picked up three points and are currently 11th in the league rankings. As for the New York Rangers, they matched up against the New York Islanders for their first two games. With a 1-1-0 record, they currently sit further down in the rankings. Completely embarrassed by the Islanders in the first game of the season, the Rangers came back with some huge offensive production to win the next, 5-0.
On a high after defeating the Bruins in OT, the Devils are going to come out swinging. It just won’t be enough. Against offensive talent like Artemi Panarin, Alexis Lafreniere, Kaapo Kakko–the list goes on–the Devils don’t have the firepower to overtake the Rangers. Add Igor Shesterkin and his huge shutout against the Islanders to the mix, the Devils don’t really have a chance.
Prediction: Rangers win 4-1.
Buffalo Sabres vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Head-to-Head: Sabres 0 – 0 Flyers
A match-up the league doesn’t see often, the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers are now in the same division. Playing each other eight times this season, the world will have to get used to it. The Sabres are another team that missed the play-in this past season. Finishing the season with just 68 points, they’re not exactly in the running to make it much farther this year. The offensive boost they added this offseason in Taylor Hall, Dylan Cozens, and Arttu Ruotsalainen didn’t seem to make that much of an impact on the Washington Capitals. Despite their losses in their first two games, the Sabres came up with a convincing win against the dominant Flyers. A 6-1 win on Monday night came from stopping Philadelphia’s talented offence. They’ll have to do it again if they want to win two in a row.
Last night’s setback was unexpected from this Flyer’s team. To be frank, goaltender Carter Hart had a really bad game. Letting in four goals on 21 shots was uncharacteristic. Pulled from the game, if he gets the starting position tonight, he’ll likely bounce back. The Sabres likely won’t be able to stop Travis Konecny and the Flyer’s offence two nights in a row. Despite the Sabres new and improved offensive core, they just don’t have the ability to sweep Philadelphia in this two-game mini-series.
Prediction: Flyers win 3-1.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Florida Panthers
Head-to-Head: Blackhawks 0 – 1 Panthers
Despite the Chicago Blackhawks playing two games before the Florida Panthers even started their season, it wasn’t pretty for the team from the Windy City. After losing 1-5 and 2-5 to the reigning Stanley Cup Champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Blackhawks took on the Panthers. Where they promptly lost 2-5. They couldn’t shut down the Panthers offence, evidenced by the five goals let in by netminder, Collin Delia. The Blackhawks need to find a way to shore up both ends of the ice if they want to beat the Panthers tonight.
As for Florida, they are benefitting from the change-up in divisions. Fighting for a potential playoff spot, they’ll have to use the offensive depth they possess. With Vezina-winner Sergei Bobrovsky set to make his season debut, the Blackhawks face an even tougher opponent in the Panthers.
Prediction: Panthers win 3-0.
Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Head-to-Head: Capitals 0 – 1 Penguins
In their first faceoff of the season, the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Washington Capitals in a shootout. This storied Metropolitan Division rivalry has clearly translated to the East Division. The Capitals headed into their first game against the Penguins with a 2-0-0 record. The Penguins came in with a 0-2-0 record, after losing two to the Flyers. Any Capitals vs. Penguins matchup is going to be interesting, and this game was no different. Despite the numbers and the uphill battle they were fighting, Pittsburgh came out on top. Goals from all over their roster tied the game at three in regulation. A stalemate in overtime allowed Penguins netminder Casey DeSmith to record a shootout shutout. Stopping goals from some of the biggest scorers in the league, DeSmith won the game.
Although the Penguins showed they aren’t letting their spot near the top go easily, the Capitals are looking for payback. Washington will need to put the puck behind DeSmith efficiently and often, but they will come out on top in their second out of eight matchups for this condensed season.
Prediction: Capitals win 4-3.
Embed from Getty Images