Welcome back to NHL Predictions, February 15th edition! Each day, the Last Word on Hockey team will break down every game and give our NHL predictions for each game. There are ten games on the NHL slate for Monday, February 15th. Make sure to check out today’s late game predictions as well.
St. Louis Blues vs. Arizona Coyotes
Head-to-Head: Blues 3 – 3 Coyotes
After an uneasy beginning to the year, the St. Louis Blues seem to have found their footing. They sit with a 9-4-2 record and the third-best points percentage (.667) in the West Division. This game is the Blues’ seventh straight tilt against the Arizona Coyotes, and after dropping three straight, they won back-to-back contests Friday and Saturday to even the series at three wins apiece. The Blues may be down another winger in Jaden Schwartz tonight, as he goes on the injury list with Tyler Bozak, Robert Thomas, and Sammy Blais. Justin Faulk is leading the way for the Blues on both sides of the puck right now with eight points in 15 games, while the Coyotes continue to receive solid goaltending from Darcy Kuemper (.913 save percentage). While their underlying metrics suggest some regression is coming (an average 50.0 percent Corsi for and 42.3 percent Scoring Chances for), the Blues carry momentum right now and should win their third straight tonight.
Prediction: Blues win 4-3.
New York Islanders vs. Buffalo Sabres
Head-to-Head: Islanders 0 – 0 Sabres
The Buffalo Sabres return to the rink after a two-week pause due to COVID-19 tonight against the New York Islanders, who’ve just defeated the best team in their division (a 4-2 win against the Boston Bruins Saturday night). And while the Sabres may be coming into tonight’s game with a still-depleted roster, they’ll be looking to make a big statement after a long break. Their Corsi and high danger chances metrics suggest that the Sabres have been better at controlling play than the Islanders, but they’ll need a big game from goalie Linus Ullmark (.914 save percentage, 3-1-2 record) in order to emerge with the victory tonight. The Islanders have had their struggles this year, losing five straight contests at one point, and they’re a bad Semyon Varlamov performance away from dropping another one.
Prediction: Sabres win 2-1.
Ottawa Senators vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
Head-to-Head: Senators 1 – 1 Maple Leafs
The league’s best team in the Toronto Maple Leafs faces off against the league’s worst in the Ottawa Senators tonight. The Maple Leafs are playing their best hockey right now as well, having won four out of their past five. But the Senators have a little juice in their step after an emotional Brady Tkachuk game-winning goal in their last tilt against the Winnipeg Jets. So while Ottawa’s momentum may keep this from being a blowout, they’ve still only won three games this season. They’ve struggled to maintain any consistency. Compare that to Toronto’s 11-3-1 record, 3.53 goals for per game, and 64.4 percent scoring chances for. This could be a rough game for Ottawa, especially if Toronto netminder Frederik Andersen can keep up his .909 save percentage (which is quickly improving after a rough start).
Prediction: Maple Leafs win 5-2.
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Carolina Hurricanes
Head-to-Head: Blue Jackets 1 – 1 Hurricanes
The Columbus Blue Jackets and Carolina Hurricanes have split their season series so far, but the Hurricanes have been the much better team. The Blue Jackets have dealt with oodles of controversy this year. They’re struggling to stay afloat with a -6 goal differential, whereas the Hurricanes boast a 9-3-0 record while winning three of their past four. The Blue Jackets can be grateful for Patrik Laine‘s four goals in six games, but they don’t have the talent to compare to Carolina’s four-headed monster on offence of Andrei Svechnikov, Sebastian Aho, Vincent Trocheck, and Jordan Staal (all with at least 11 points this year). Goaltending has become a bit of a weak spot for both teams, especially after Petr Mrazek‘s injury for Carolina, so this game could be a high-scoring affair. Regardless, look for Carolina to be the main play-driver tonight against a reeling Columbus team.
Prediction: Hurricanes win 6-2.
Florida Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Head-to-Head: Panthers 1 – 1 Lightning
The Florida Panthers are finally cooling down after a red-hot start, dropping two of their last four contests while Sergei Bobrovsky is again struggling immensely with a .884 save percentage. And while they’ve gotten impressive performances from breakout stars like Carter Verhaeghe, who leads the team in goals with seven, they exhibited some serious weaknesses in their last outing against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa, who’s 10-2-1, have won three of their last four games by a difference of three or more goals. While Florida is bound to play better tonight, Tampa has the hotter hand now and should be victorious tonight.
Prediction: Lightning win 3-1.
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