Welcome back to NHL Predictions, January 30th 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 early game slate of NHL Predictions for January 30th. Be sure and check out the late games too.
New Jersey Devils vs Buffalo Sabres
Head-to-Head: Devils 0-vs-0 Sabres
The New Jersey Devils and the Buffalo Sabres will face each other head to head for the first time this season. The Sabres edge the Devils in all-time matchups with a 78-55-9record. The two teams also had 17 ties against each before the league switched the rules eliminating ties. Last season the team acquainted just twice, with Buffalo capturing both wins.
Thursday night Jesper Bratt made his season debut and although the forward came up empty-handed on the score sheet, he recorded two shots on net. After the game, Head Coach Lindy Ruff reported that he liked the look of Jesper Bratt’s game.
Without question, missing Nico Hischier displays an absence in the teams’ offence. Jack Hughes is maintaining the course of being a first overall draft pick. The youngster has seven points in seven games. Miles Wood and Ty Smith have been co-leading the offensive production with a combined 11 points. Not only has Ty Smith been providing the offence, but the rookie has been great where it matters, defending. Scott Wedgewood has been filling the crease in relief of Mackenzie Blackwood. The netminder is listed day to day with no news when we will see him back in action.
The Buffalo Sabres have looked reasonable this season to start. Unfortunately for the team, they have faced some tough losses. In Buffalo’s last four games, they have grabbed six out of eight points. Three out of those four games have needed extra time, winning one in a shootout.
Linus Ullmark has made some key saves to help keep his team in the game and get those well needed extra points. Buffalo’s offence has been what it appears to be on paper. Their top scoring line leads the team and has been what they need it to be. Jack Eichel, Taylor Hall and Sam Reinhart have combined for 22 points.
Prediction: Sabres Win 3-1
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Edmonton Oilers
Head-to-Head: Leafs 2-vs-1 Oilers
The Leafs have been great at covering Connor McDavid this season and they aim to continue maintaining his skill and speed. Toronto might have to start watching Leon Draisaitl more closely as he has four out of the eight goals scored by Edmonton in the season series.
Frederik Andersen has been great when facing the Oilers this season. He has provided key saves to keep the Leafs ahead. The difference between these two teams when they clash is Toronto’s bottom six cashing in.
The struggling Oilers will rely heavily on their star players to lead them to victory in this game. Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid lead the team in points and ice time. The Oiler’s third line has improved, as they were able to bury a goal last game. The line was also able to find possession time in the opposing end. If this line can continue to carry momentum and gain prosperity, Edmonton should have less of a problematic time playing catch-up with Toronto. Once, again Mikko Koskinen will look to get the nod as he continues to carry the overworked load. Koskinen has faced 265 shots on goal, 85 more shots than any goalie in the North Division. Maybe it’s time Stuart Skinner gets his NHL debut.
Prediction: Oilers Win 4-3
Pittsburgh Penguins vs New York Rangers
Head-to-Head: Penguins 2-vs- 0 Rangers
Back over in a packed night with the East Division, the Pittsburgh Penguins are coming off back to back losses. The Penguins would hope to get back onto a more positive streak. Perhaps another four-game winning streak would be nice. This team is surrounded by all-around solid talent and has overcome trailing from behind in most games this season. Sidney Crosby leads the team with three goals and seven points, while Evgeni Malkin is goalless in his last four games. This is a game Pittsburgh should and needs to win. Pittsburgh hopes to survive through their weakened back end due to injuries and sub-par goaltending.
A 2-4-1 record puts the New York Rangers at the bottom of their division. However, the East Division has great talent and competition and no one was expecting the Rangers to be contenders quite yet. They have a handful of elite players and youngsters about to hit their stride in the league. This team isn’t there yet, and it will take some time for them to come around. A bright future is ahead for this team and all they can do is stay the course for now. New York’s defence is among the worst in the league and doesn’t make situations any easier for a teams’ offence that has looked flat.
Prediction: Penguins Win 4-2
New York Islanders vs Philadelphia Flyers
Head-to-Head: Islanders 0-vs- 0 Flyers
In another Eastern Division matchup, the New York Islanders look to break through the rough. The Islanders are 3-4-0, putting them near the bottom of the Division with six points. This is a game where Barry Trotz and the Islanders need to get it right. With their rival the New York Rangers one point behind and a chance to overtake them tonight, it has to light a fire.
Especially when you consider how they lost their last game to the Washington Capitals. The Islanders blew a three-goal lead and allowed four goals in 5:09 to a team that was missing key players. Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, defenceman Dmitry Orlov and goaltender Ilya Samsonov. Finding a way to regroup after that horrific loss and bouncing back against the Philadelphia Flyers would be a breath of fresh air. Although this is the first meeting between these two teams this season, they are no strangers of each other.
On the plus side in the East Division, the Philadelphia Flyers are on a two-game winning streak holding a record of 5-2-1 this season. Two points disconnect the Flyers from the top of the East Division. Philadelphia began the season with a fairly strong start until they ran into the Boston Bruins. The Flyers have put themselves back at the top in the East Division after their last two wins.
Carter Hart has had a disappointing start to the season. You could hang the blame on the young goaltender, but Philadelphia’s defence has been underwhelming. It would be crucial for Carter Hart to refind his game soon and gain help from his defence. If so, then Philadelphia should be top-notch moving forward.
Prediction: Islanders Win 3-2
Boston Bruins vs Washington Capitals
Head-to-Head: Bruins 0-vs- 0 Capitals
At last, here we go. The heavy-weights of the East Division will collide for the fourth and final game from the division tonight. The Washington Capitals and the Boston Bruins are held apart by just two points. Washington favours one game in hand over the Bruins. Tonight’s matchup will be the first time this season that these two face off and Zdeno Chara will face his former teammates.
Both teams may be without their star players Alex Ovechkin (Washington) and David Pastrnak (Boston). A recent update on Pastrnak’s injury inquires that the star may make his season debut tonight. Also missing from the lineup for at least another game due to COVID protocols are Evgeny Kuznetsov, defenceman Dmitry Orlov and goaltender Ilya Samsonov. Lars Eller is listed day-to-day with a head injury. On the other side, Jake Debrusk is listed day-to-day and Ondrej Kase remains out.
This game could easily go either way, as you could anticipate a high scoring game as the two teams lead the division in scoring. Or we could see a goaltending showdown as Vitek Vanecek has done a great job taking over for Samsonov. Boston’s goaltending has been complete this season, as both Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak hold a save percentage above .900.
Prediction: Bruins Win 4-3
Dallas Stars vs Carolina Hurricanes
Head-to-Head: Stars 0-vs- 0 Hurricanes
Will the Dallas Stars make it a perfect 5-0 to start the season off? After all, this team rides a four-game winning streak to start the season and carries a goal differential of a plus 13. Despite COVID and early injuries, the Stars look powerful and no sign of letting up.
Joe Pavelski has nine points in four games and looks to remind the hockey world he can still play like a star at the age of 36 years old. Anton Khudobin has been a solid wall in his three starts this season, only surrendering three goals, recording a shutout and posting a .958% so far. Jake Oettinger locked down his first win of the season, stopping 20 out of 23 shots. Two teams unfamiliar with one another will meet for the first time this season. Dallas holds an all-time record of 47-30-6 record in favour of the Hurricanes.
Coming off a shutout win, the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Stanley Cup Champions to extend their winning streak to two games, bringing their record to 3-1-0. Petr Mrazek joins the four-way tie in league-leading shutouts with two. Although the Hurricanes find themselves at the bottom of the standings, they hold games in hand over the Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks and the Nashville Predators. Once Carolina catches in games, it’s hard to argue that they will not be in the mix at the top. A strong challenge faces them tonight when they square off the undefeated Dallas Stars.
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Prediction: Stars Win 3-2