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.
Vegas Golden Knights vs San Jose Sharks
Head-to-Head: Golden Knights 0 – 0 Sharks
The Sharks and Golden Knights were meant to play twice already this season, but both games were postponed due to COVID-19 protocol. This will be their first meeting of the season as a result. Marc-Andre Fluery has been on a hot run for the Golden Knights so far this season. With him getting the start, it should give the Sharks a run for their money.
With the Sharks as 7th in the West, and Vegas being 2nd, the odds are stacked against them. Martin Jones has been struggling in the tandem. The Sharks will need their big names to step up tonight if they are to be in consideration. Logan Couture has 6 goals on the season, and they’ll need him to continue to produce into tonight if they are to hope to win. They will also need Jones to put together a strong game. It’s an uphill battle for the Sharks, but if everything goes their way, they may have a chance.
Prediction: Golden Knights win 5-2
Ottawa Senators vs Winnipeg Jets
Head-to-Head: Senators 0 – 4 Jets
The Ottawa Senators will once again look to find some hope for their season today. It is Hockey Day in Canada, so this leads things off as the afternoon game! The Sens have had a miserable season, especially against Western teams. Today, they look to steal two points from a Winnipeg Jets team that has won each matchup so far this season. Overall, the Sens haven’t played too poorly against the Jets. However, like most of their season, it’s been some huge mistakes that cost them the game. Whether it be a poor goal let in or a defensive collapse, they need to play their best today. Matt Murray is out with an injury, so that leaves the net to Marcus Hogberg. He needs to show the skill he showed last season, and put his miserable start behind him or else they are in trouble.
The Jets are forming into a pretty solid team that should make a good run for a playoff spot. They have been in the spotlight quite a bit because of the Pierre-Luc Dubois trade, which they will hope helps them win the game today. The Jets are a balanced team that is going older on the blueline now too, sending some of their younger players to the AHL. Today, Winnipeg just needs to play their game and control the high danger opportunities against Ottawa. If they do that, they should win.
Prediction: Jets win 5-3
St. Louis Blues vs Arizona Coyotes
Head-to-Head: Blues 2 – 3 Coyotes
This is a stunning sixth time in a row these two teams are playing each other! And they have one more Monday too. Imagine seeing that in any other season… It is fair to say the St. Louis Blues are likely sick of seeing the Arizona Coyotes, who have now won three of the five matchups. St. Louis got the win Thursday 4-1 so they may hold some of the momentum. However, it will be interesting to see how these teams continue to adjust to one another while playing each other so often. It is literally like a playoff series in a normal season. St. Louis has been average in both CF% and xGF% this season, hovering just below or above in both. Getting back to the point where they are controlling possession and keeping teams playing their style will be the key to success.
For the Coyotes, taking three out of five has been huge already, and now they have a great opportunity to take more. That fourth playoff spot in the division looks wide open for the taking, why not Arizona? It isn’t confirmed, but it might be a battle of the backups tonight. Antti Raanta vs Ville Husso, and if that is true, the edge may go to Arizona as Raanta is one of the strongest backups in the league. The Coyotes will need to come ready to play if they want to win this one.
Prediction: Blues win 3-2.
Boston Bruins vs New York Islanders
Head-to-Head: Bruins 0 – 1 Islanders
The Boston Bruins have been one of the league’s hottest teams to start this season. They are 10-1-2 and look like a force to be reckoned with. However, one of their losses did come to the New York Islanders in their only meeting of the season so far. For Boston, this game will be about keeping their hot streak alive. They have won five in a row and are 9-0-1 in their last 10. Rolling on all wheels right now, this is a Boston team to be feared. They can play a higher offensive pace if needed, but can also slow it down and play a gritty low-scoring game too. That is what makes them so dangerous and they will look to continue that today.
The Islanders love that defensive style game so this could be a lower scoring matchup. New York has had an average start to the year, currently sitting fourth but at a record of 5-4-3. The loser points may be more important than ever this season as you’re getting points directly from the teams you are competing against. You also would rather not give them anything if absolutely possible. However, for New York, they will need to stop the top line of Boston. Slowing them down will be the key to any success they have today.
Prediction: Bruins win 2-1 in Overtime
Tampa Bay Lightning vs Florida Panthers
Head-to-Head: Lightning 0 – 1 Panthers
These two teams are in game two of three in a row. However, an interesting thing to keep an eye on is that Steven Stamkos was added to the league’s COVID list yesterday. Meaning he could have been in close contact with someone who has it, or, has it himself. This is a little worrying as we know how easily it can spread, so there is no doubt the league will be testing consistently. If the game does go as scheduled though, the Tampa Bay Lightning will miss Stamkos presence. Already without Nikita Kucherov, the Lightning still have a ton of weapons but will obviously be more limited. Look for guys like Brayden Point to continue producing. The Lightning look to keep first place in the division today as these are two of the hottest teams going currently.
The Florida Panthers have had a ton of rescheduled games thanks to COVID. Not even of their own fault either. So, another one would not be ideal. However, as mentioned above, they have been lights out to start this season and a win today would put them first in the Central. Carter Verhaeghe has been a very pleasant surprise as he has 10 points in 11 games for Florida. Last year, he had just 13 points in 52 games and only played in eight of Tampa’s playoff games on the way to a cup with them. Now, he will once again look for some revenge on his old team. What better way to do it than helping your new team win and take control of the division? This could be a high scoring game tonight.
Prediction: Lightning win 6-4
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Montreal Canadiens
Head-to-Head: Leafs 2 – 0 Canadiens
Finally, for NHL predictions, we have the 7 pm Canadian game. The Toronto Maple Leafs have had their best start in a very long time. Leading the North division at 11-2-1, they have the chance to put a seven-point buffer on the second-place team tonight. Six if the Jets also win. However, they need to just focus on playing their game, which has been the key to success all year long. Dealing with injuries to the depth like Joe Thornton and Wayne Simmonds, the Leafs have rebounded nicely. They have found contributions from guys like Jason Spezza, Justin Holl, and Travis Dermott in recent games. As well as the big four putting up points too. The defence is what has improved the most all year. Holl is looking like a legit top four-player, and Morgan Reilly, TJ Brodie, and Jake Muzzin make a very reliable top four to have. The Leafs need to clog up the neutral zone against this quick in transition Montreal Canadiens team tonight. That will be the key to success.
The Habs on the other hand are in a bit of a slide. They have lost three of their last four and the only win was against Ottawa, a game they didn’t look amazing in anyways. They got off to a super hot start and have now frozen up, they are likely a true-talent team in the middle of the two. Look for them to bring it all tonight as they need these points to stay in the range of Toronto. It is early but being three points down vs seven is such a big difference. In net, they need Carey Price to step up a bit more. He really hasn’t played well enough this year and some people have even called for Jake Allen to get some more starts. So, we will see where those things go, because if the goaltending is hot, the Habs will be a tough team to beat.
Prediction: Canadiens win 4-3 in Overtime.