Welcome back to NHL Predictions, January 23rd 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.
Los Angeles Kings vs. St. Louis Blues
Head-to-Head: Kings 0 – 0 Blues
The Los Angeles Kings have been in some close games this season. They took the Minnesota Wild to overtime twice and were able to score a victory over the Colorado Avalanche to compile a 1-1-2 record. And while the Kings this season look to turn the page to their future, it’s been some veterans in Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter that have led the way offensively so far. But that doesn’t mean their young defence hasn’t impressed, however, as both Michael Anderson and Matt Roy have looked solid in limited action so far. Goaltending is a bit of early concern, however, as both Jonathan Quick and Calvin Petersen have failed to solidify the starting job.
Despite a 2-1-1 record, the St. Louis Blues have been a tale of two hockey teams. An impressive season-opening win over Colorado was quickly soured by an 8-0 defeat and they’re coming off a tough shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks. They’ll likely be without a pair of names on the back end in Robert Bortuzzo and Marco Scandella, with the 24-year-old Niko Miikola continuing to draw into the lineup. While a large segment of the team has underperformed to start the year, Jordan Kyrou is beginning to look like a star with four points in four games. Another positive sign comes in the seemingly improved defensive play of Justin Faulk, softening the blow of his monstrous cap hit. Jordan Binnington looks like he’s still the man in goal with a .913 save percentage in four starts. It doesn’t look like he’ll get much help with a disastrous first NHL performance by Ville Husso. But the Blues still have a deeper and more consistent roster and have a significant advantage in the goaltending department.
Prediction: Blues win 2-0.
Ottawa Senators vs. Winnipeg Jets
Head-to-Head: Senators 0 – 2 Jets
After an impressive first game, the Ottawa Senators have cooled down fast with back-to-back losses against Winnipeg. They’ll try their luck on the road this time after two uninspiring performances at home. Dynamic rookie Tim Stützle is still on the injured list after taking a hit from the Toronto Maple Leafs‘ Jake Muzzin. Yet Ottawa’s still had some impressive performances so far, especially from Nikita Zaitsev. The not-so-analytical-darling defenceman has five points in four games. A lot of deflections and slot passes have gone his way. He’s seen some improved play defensively too, but past results don’t favour sustainability. Matt Murray has been okay in goal but certainly hasn’t stolen any games with a .880 save percentage.
The Winnipeg Jets have succeeded so far this season despite injuries to key cogs like Patrik Laine. They currently sit at ninth in the league in goals, as their top-six looks like it may be returning to form. Kyle Connor tops that list with seven points through his first four games. Though Mark Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Blake Wheeler all sit at a point-per-game or better as well. They’ve seen some impressive defensive contributions from newcomers like Derek Forbort. And with solid goaltending and an early 3-1-0 record, this team looks ready for another playoff push.
Prediction: Jets win 4-1.
Embed from Getty Images