Welcome back to NHL Predictions, January 22nd edition! Each day, the Last Word on Hockey team will break down every game and give our NHL predictions for each game. This is the late game slate of NHL Predictions for January 22nd. Be sure and check out the early games too.
Colorado Avalanche vs. Anaheim Ducks
Head-to-Head: Avalanche 0 – Ducks 0
The Colorado Avalanche started the season slow with a lacklustre loss to the Blues on opening night. However, they look like a whole new team just a couple of games later. The Avs outscored their opponents 11-2 in the two games since, and finding a weakness in this roster is nearly impossible. Their de facto weak spot mentioned now has to be goaltending, but Philipp Grubauer already has a shutout to his name and a solid .923 save percentage. This matchup against the Ducks is on the second night of a back-to-back, but Grubauer will likely start since Hunter Miska is slated to start on the 21st in Los Angeles. Also, rookie defenseman Bowen Byram could be in the lineup as debuted against Los Angeles on Thursday night.
The Anaheim Ducks, on the other hand, fights amongst the cellar teams in this new West Division. The team scored only six goals thus far through four games. Their one win came in a 1-0, 34-save shutout effort from goaltender John Gibson. If you could handpick the game where your goaltender will stand on his head, you’d pick the Avs games. The Ducks could surprise if Colorado struggles without a day off before this game, but their depth makes that hard to envision. A general rule-of-thumb: Don’t bet against Colorado this year.
Prediction: Colorado Wins 5-0
San Jose Sharks vs. Minnesota Wild
Head-to-Head: Sharks o – Wild 0
So far, the San Jose Sharks only wins came in two separate shootout victories. Their top players are on the scoresheet plenty, led by Tomas Hertl with six points in four games. Unfortunately, their goaltenders struggle to keep the puck out of the net; both Martin Jones and Devan Dubnyk possess save percentages beneath .900. Half their guys logging the most ice time on defence, namely Erik Karlsson and Mario Ferraro, currently own horrendous possession metrics too. This team is built with an “offence first” mentality, but so far their defensive lapses and goaltending shortcomings continue to hold them back.
The Minnesota Wild, though, sits somewhere in the middle of the pack of the division. They’ve looked pretty good so far this year, but have only played the Ducks and Kings. How they match up against the top tier teams remains to be seen. Ultimately, Minnesota is a more balanced team but lacks any real superstar punch currently. They’re receiving solid goaltending from newcomer Cam Talbot and youngster Kaapo Kahkonen, too. The Sharks should be the strongest offence they have faced so far, and it could be their first non-shootout victory of the young season.
Prediction: Sharks win 4-3 in OT
Nashville Predators vs. Dallas Stars
Head-to-Head: Stars 0 – Predators 0
Finally! A Dallas Stars game! Do not expect this team to be slow out of the gate just because they’ve yet to face an opponent. The Stars are just months removed from the Stanley Cup Finals, and their roster is largely intact. The Nashville Predators, on the other side, own a 2-1-0 record despite three strong showings. Goaltender Juuse Saros so far appears to be the starter, with a fantastic .959 save percentage in his first two starts. Pekka Rinne holds the team’s only defeat, in a game where his team outshot the Carolina Hurricanes by double digits.
This game has to be the toughest of the four tonight to pick. The Predators look good, and the Stars are a bit of an unknown. Again, though, they just fell short of the ultimate prize and should be hungry to get back to that stage. Though they’ll be without Ben Bishop and Tyler Seguin due to injuries, Anton Khudobin already showed he’s more than capable of holding down the fort in net. And, Seguin played through injuries in playoffs that limited his effectiveness. This team can overcome adversity, and expect a statement in their debut.
Prediction: Stars Win 3-1
Vegas Golden Knights vs. Arizona Coyotes
Head-to-Head: Golden Knights 2 – Coyotes 0
Similar to the Avs – Ducks matchup, we have a powerhouse pitted against a rebuilder here. The Vegas Golden Knights remain heavy favourites alongside Colorado to battle it out for the division crown. The Arizona Coyotes, despite a solid playoff run, continue to develop and grow as a team. Phil Kessel has four goals through as many games, and that scoring prowess makes him their most effective forward. Darcy Kuemper stole the show in 2019-20, but so far carries a weak .879 save percentage across three starts. Antti Raanta may get the nod in this matchup.
We’ve seen this matchup twice already, too. This is the third consecutive game between the two clubs, with one more on the way on the 24th. Shot counts for the two so far were fairly close, so it is not that Vegas is blowing the Coyotes out of the water. However, they’re beating Arizona in a variety of ways already. In the first game, Arizona led 2-0 at the halfway mark; Vegas potted four unanswered in the final 23 minutes of action to win 4-2. Then, Vegas got out to a 3-0 lead at the halfway mark in the second head-to-head; Arizona could not overcome the deficit though as the Golden Knights held on. One way or another, Vegas will likely do the same on night three (…and probably again on night four…).
Prediction: Vegas Wins 5-3
Thank you for checking out our NHL predictions for the January 22nd late games! Please continue tracking our NHL predictions for each day’s slate of match-ups!
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