Welcome back to NHL Predictions, March 11th edition! Each day, the Last Word On Hockey team will break down every game and give our NHL predictions for each. This is the second set of NHL Predictions for March 11th featuring the Toronto Maple Leafs vs Winnipeg Jets. Be sure and check out the first and second set of NHL Predictions, too.
NHL Predictions: Winnipeg Jets vs Toronto Maple Leafs
Nashville Predators vs Carolina Hurricanes
Head-to-Head: Predators 0 – 2 Hurricanes
The Nashville Predators face-off against the Carolina Hurricanes in the second game of this two-game set. The Predators have been decimated by injuries in the last couple of weeks, with all of Matt Duchene, Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, Luke Kunin, and Juuse Saros being sidelined. Young defenseman Dante Fabbro had a hearing for his hit on Carolina forward Brock McGinn and was ultimately suspended for two games. Players like Rem Pitlick, Yakov Trenin, Alexandre Carrier, Mathieu Olivier, and most recently Jeremy Davies are the guys who have filled in while the primary roster players are temporarily absent. Filip Forsberg had a stellar week notching a goal and seven assists for a total of eight points. He and stud rookie Eeli Tolvanen, who leads rookies in power-play goals, have been playing lights out so far.
As for Carolina, it’s the usual suspects. In the last game, Jordan Staal was the hero. He played a great two-way game and pressured on the forecheck immensely, creating multiple turnovers. Sebastian Aho and Vincent Trocheck lead the team in points with 24. Significant contributions on the back end from Dougie Hamilton and Brett Pesce, along with Jaccob Slavin, have catapulted the team to a fantastic 18-6-1 record overall and a 9-1-1 record at home. Look for any of these players to be contributors for wins on both sides, Forsberg, Aho, and Trocheck, the most likely candidates.
Prediction: Hurricanes win 3-1
Florida Panthers vs Columbus Blue Jackets
Head-to-Head: Panthers 2 -1 Blue Jackets
The Florida Panthers and Columbus Blue Jackets match up next. For Florida, Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov are the usual suspects in terms of offensive production. In the case of Barkov, their defensive production as well. He has been arguably the Selke winner up to this point, and his defensive play is reflected through both the eye test and analytics. Carter Verhaeghe has been an excellent addition to the Panthers lineup and has indeed found his place next to Barkov on the top line. Finally, veteran Patric Hornqvist has done very well in Joel Quenneville‘s system. He is playing his gritty game as always and racking up points while doing it too. He is third on the team in points with 27 and tied for first in goals with 10.
On the other side of the ice, Cam Atkinson is the team leader in goals with 10; he is also the team’s leading point scorer with 19. Oliver Bjorkstrand–a noted analytical darling–is tied with him. Goaltender Joonas Korpisalo took the loss in the last game against the Panthers on Tuesday, and Elvis Merzlikins could make his return from injury on Thursday, but that’s up to head coach John Tortorella. One player to note is Patrik Laine. He has been scoreless in his last seven games. These droughts for a player of his calibre don’t last very long, so watch for a breakout.
Prediction: Panthers win 5-4
Winnipeg Jets vs Toronto Maple Leafs
Head-to-Head: Jets 1 – 1 Maple Leafs
The Winnipeg Jets and Toronto Maple Leafs go head-to-head again, with both teams looking to get the edge in the season series. The Leafs are a top-three team in the entire NHL and leaders in the North Division despite being on an untimely slump. Auston Matthews is the first player to hit the 20 goal plateau this season and is scoring at an ungodly pace so far. He notched two against the Jets last game in the 4-3 loss. The other big names, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, and William Nylander have also been good this season, especially Marner. With Matthews at his side, Marner has been able to produce very well offensively. Also, his defensive game has taken strides too.
As for the Jets, Connor Hellebuyck and the production of Mark Scheifele are the stories. Hellebuyck is arguably the best goaltender in the NHL, and while he’s not as good as he was last year, he is still terrific. Scheifele is tied for second on the team in goals with 11; he is first on the team in both assists and points with 23 and 34, respectively. Nikolaj Ehlers has been another top producer for the team this season with 25 points and 11 goals. This team does have some flaws on defence. However, they have done a great job on the offensive end to make up for it as much as possible. A good performance from Hellebuyck is the key to the Jets’ success against a star-studded Maple Leafs team.
Prediction: Maple Leafs win 5-3
Embed from Getty Images