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. Since there are games postpones, there are only three games today.
Boston Bruins vs New York Rangers
Head-to-Head: Bruins 2 – 0 Rangers
The Boston Bruins and New York Rangers are two very different teams. They’re on opposite sides of the spectrum in terms of placement within the standings. However, they managed to create a mini-rivalry. There were multiple brawls in the last meeting with names like Brendan Lemieux and Trent Frederic going at it and other surprising matchups between Pavel Buchnevich and Jeremy Lauzon. The Boston Bruins won their previous meeting 1-0 thanks to Bruins’ breakout player Nick Ritchie. The Bruins have David Pastrnak back to bolster the lineup and increase the scoring exponentially. Brad Marchand is their leading scorer with nine goals and 20 points on the season. He is always a threat to score, especially with players like the previously mentioned Pastrnak and two-way superstar Patrice Bergeron.
As for the Rangers, they’re going to be strapped for offence, with Artemi Panarin taking a leave of absence from the team. They’re going to heavily rely on players like Buchnevich and Ryan Strome to take the reigns of the offence and control play. Mika Zibanejad has been a letdown for the Rangers this season, only notching a measly two goals and six points in 17 games. After his breakout season last year–despite being heavily influenced by an unsustainable shooting percentage–Rangers fans expected a lot of production. If the Rangers want to win against the Bruins and overall, they need Zibanejad to come to life.
Prediction: Bruins win 4-1
Los Angeles Kings vs Minnesota Wild
Head-to-Head: Kings 2 – 3 Wild
The Los Angeles Kings and Minnesota Wild already have a storied history this season. Only one of their five games has been won by a difference of three or more goals so far. Their first three matchups ended in overtime. Kirill Kaprizov–the Wild’s leading scorer with four goals and 15 points–prevailed as the hero in all three of them. Watch out for him and his eloquent skating in the offensive zone. He is extremely good at possessing the puck, and his new linemates Mats Zuccarello and Victor Rask have elevated their plays.
Their line put up an astounding nine points in their 6-2 drubbing of the San Jose Sharks and another five in their win over the Colorado Avalanche. They are great on both ends of the ice, and one defensive lapse will most likely cost the Kings. Joel Eriksson Ek, another breakout player this season for the Wild, has been fantastic both ways as well. He has driven play very well and leads the team in goals with six.
The Kings are surprising all of the NHL so far this season. They sit in third place in the Honda West Division, one point below the St. Louis Blues with two games in hand. Kings captain Anze Kopitar has always been a steady performer for the team, and veteran Dustin Brown leads the team in goals with 11. Those two, along with goaltender Calvin Peterson have been the Kings’ foundation surprising ascent to the top.
Prediction: Wild win 3-2
Colorado Avalanche vs Arizona Coyotes
Head-to-Head: Avalanche 0 – 0 Coyotes
The night’s final matchup comes in the form of Nathan MacKinnon and company squaring off with comeback kings, the Arizona Coyotes. Everyone around the league knows MacKinnon’s pedigree and his two linemates Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog. The stud sophomore Cale Makar has been elite in every facet so far this season for the Colorado Avalanche, and his ability to walk the tightrope on the blueline has caught the eyes of media and fans alike. Philipp Grubauer has been among the best goaltenders in the league this year with a .923 save percentage and 4.31 goals saved above expected.
The Arizona Coyotes, on the other hand, are not as star-studded as Colorado. They do rank higher than them in the standings with 21 points. However, Colorado still has three games in hand. Conor Garland is being revered as one of the most underrated players in the league. Phil Kessel looks to be back, as he is tied with Garland for second on the team in goal-scoring with seven. Their leading scorer Christian Dvorak has made a name for himself in the shootout. Outside of his slick hands, he has potted nine goals and 15 points up to this point.
Finally, defenceman Jakob Chychrun has been a formidable piece on the back end. He is tied for third on the team in points with 14–over halfway to his total last season–and has been extremely steady in the defensive zone. If the Coyotes want to win, they need to shut down MacKinnon and his linemates and get past the aggressive forecheck and hard in-zone defensive pressure of this Avalanche team.
Prediction: Avalanche win 4-2
This concludes today’s NHL predictions!
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