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 for February 8th. Be sure and check out the late games of NHL Predictions too.
NHL Predictions February 8th – Early Games
Edmonton Oilers vs. Ottawa Senators
Head-to-Head: Oilers 2-0 Senators
Opening the first of three predictions today includes one of the two North Division battles on the schedule tonight. Each team is coming off a close loss and will have to hold their heads high and move forward. The Edmonton Oilers dropped a frustrating loss in their first Battle of Alberta matchup Saturday night. A strong start by the Oilers had the team looking convincing early in the game, only to drop the decision 6-4.
Well, keep your chin up Edmonton fans! The Ottawa Senators will host the Oilers in a back-to-back meeting, tonight being the first night! Very much so, this is a game where Edmonton should be able to skate away with two points. Expect Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl to keep their offensive threat going against Ottawa. Both players have seven points in the two meetings thus far. One of the questions regarding Edmonton is, do you rest Mikko Koskinen this game or the next? Mike Smith has been activated off of LTIR and could be ready to make his long-awaited season debut.
The Ottawa Senators have just two wins this season. They recently grabbed their second victory against the second-place Montreal Canadiens in the North Division. In their second game versus Montreal, the Sens would surrender a hard-fought loss. Matt Murray and Jake Allen would duel it out in a goalie standoff. Murray faced 32 shots, only letting two get by him. Ottawa fired away their fair share of pucks stacking 35 shots on Montreal, but Jake Allen came to play.
The Edmonton Oilers fall early in the first period, but they find a way to stop the bleeding.
Prediction: Oilers win 5-3.
New York Islanders vs. New York Rangers
Head-to-Head: Islanders 1 – 1 Rangers
The New York Islanders are still off to a sputtering start after last year’s Eastern Conference Final appearance. After five days off, a 4-3 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday put them back at the .500 mark (4-4-2). Their long-documented struggles of putting the puck in the net continue, as their 23 goals on the year sit third-to-last in the league. Unfortunately, their advanced stats show that this isn’t a case of bad luck. The Islanders are struggling to control play at even strength, with only 35.7 percent of scoring chances coming in their favour. Fresh off a new contract, Mathew Barzal isn’t to blame with his 11 points in 10 games to lead the team. And even with Semyon Varlamov‘s .921 save percentage providing stability, the Islanders can’t find ways to control play.
Their crosstown rivals in the New York Rangers have the exact same record, but they’ve boasted some better results. They carry more momentum after back-to-back wins against strong opponents in the Penguins and Washington Capitals. With seven goals in their past two games, their offence is beginning to click after a slow start. The Rangers boast better possession metrics too, with a 50.3 percent Corsi for at even strength as well as 71.9 percent of scoring chances in their favour. Artemi Panarin continues to make his contract worth it with 15 points in 10 games. And goalie Igor Shesterkin has been heating up after a slow start as well, now boasting a .913 save percentage. Simply put, the Rangers are the hotter and more confident team at the moment. Expect their offence to roll tonight against an Islanders team that’s struggled to contain their opponents.
Prediction: Rangers win 6-3.
Carolina Hurricanes vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Head-to-Head: Hurricanes 1 – 0 Blue Jackets
The Carolina Hurricanes continue to turn analytical dominance into success, boasting a 7-2-0 record to start the year. They showed some offensive prowess in their tilt against the Columbus Blue Jackets yesterday, winning a high-event 6-5 tilt. They’ve got a great defence and good goaltending, but they continue to move forward as Petr Mrazek is out with a thumb injury. That aforementioned analytical dominance has translated to the 2020-21 season, as their 57.2 percent Corsi for on the year is one of the best in the league. They have a pair of point-per-game youngsters in Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov leading the way, and James Reimer has been just good enough with a .900 save percentage. They’ll continue to be a sleeper pick to make a deep playoff run.
A season rife with drama has left the Blue Jackets with a .500 record (5-5-3). They’ve dropped three of the last four and they’re not doing anything particularly well in their game at the moment. They’re struggling to contain their opponents, as only 38.9 percent of scoring chances are coming in their favour. It was evident in their last match against Carolina, as a poor performance from Reimer likely contributed to their five goals. Patrik Laine is showing up, as he’s got three goals in his first three games as a Blue Jacket. Joonas Korpisalo is providing solid goaltending as well with a .914 save percentage, but Carolina’s top-flight talent will take advantage of an unconfident Blue Jackets team again tonight.
Prediction: Hurricanes win 5-3.
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