Welcome back to NHL Predictions, March 20th edition! Each day, the Last Word On Hockey team will break down every game and give our NHL predictions for each game. This is the first slate of NHL Predictions for March 20th featuring the New York Rangers vs. Washington Capitals. Be sure to check out the second and third slate of NHL Predictions, too.
NHL Predictions Including New York Rangers vs Washington Capitals
Pittsburgh Penguins vs New Jersey Devils
Head-to-Head: Penguins 0 – 1 Devils
The Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils play a three-game mini-series this week. In their first matchup of the season on Thursday, the Penguins fell, 3-2, just short of a comeback against the New Jersey Devils. Instead, the Devils held on to the lead with goals from Jack Hughes, P.K. Subban, and Travis Zajac. Despite New Jersey collecting the first win in their eight games against Pittsburgh on the season, it won’t happen again tonight. The Devils weak defence and subpar goaltending will not stop a loaded Penguins offence, even with Evgeni Malkin on IR.
Prediction: Penguins win 2-1.
Boston Bruins vs Buffalo Sabres
Head-to-Head: Bruins 1 – 0 Sabres
The Boston Bruins take on the 31st ranked Buffalo Sabres, tonight. On a 13-game losing streak, the Sabres have completely fallen apart. Despite four solid-looking lines on paper, Buffalo hasn’t been able to put together any offensive production. Their blueline is virtually defence-less, and starting goaltender Carter Hutton has just one win on the season. With a record of 6-19-4, the Sabres are having one of their worst season on record. Subsequently, they fired head coach Ralph Krueger on Wednesday. The Bruins should easily win this game.
Prediction: Bruins win 4-1.
Colorado Avalanche vs Minnesota Wild
Head-to-Head: Avalanche 3 – 2 Wild
The 18-8-2 Colorado Avalanche face off against the 18-9-1 Minnesota Wild for the sixth time this season. Currently sitting at second and third in the West Division, respectively, these two clubs have battled hard all year. The Avalanche are on a five-game winning streak at the moment, but a few injuries and inconsistent goaltending behind Philipp Grubauer could cost them down the road. As for the Wild, they have been one of the most productive teams in the league at 5v5. But, losing offensive defenceman Marcus Foligno to a long-term injury is a huge disadvantage. In their game on Thursday, Colorado dominated play and came out on top with a 5-1 win. They will replicate that success, tonight.
Prediction: Avalanche win 4-3.
Philadelphia Flyers vs New York Islanders
Head-to-Head: Flyers 3 – 0 Islanders
The Philadelphia Flyers are currently sweeping the New York Islanders on the season. In their game on Thursday, the Flyers eked out a win after going up 3-0 in the second period. Goals from Islanders Michael Dal Colle, Sebastian Aho, and Oliver Wahlstrom tied the game. Flyer Oskar Lindblom scored his second of the night by snapping a shot behind goaltender Semyon Varlamov. After a hot start to the season, the Flyers have struggled. Most notably, losing to the New York Rangers 9-0 on Wednesday night. The Islanders, on the other hand, have done the opposite. A slow start to the season has led to a 19-8-4 record on the season and a fifth-place position in the league. Despite the Islanders recent success, the Flyers have something to prove. They will collect the two points tonight.
Flyers win 2-1.
New York Rangers vs Washington Capitals
Head-to-Head: Rangers 2 – 1 Capitals
The Washington Capitals are on a seven-game winning streak. They play their fourth game against the New York Rangers, tonight. In their third matchup of the season last night, the Capitals defeated the Rangers 2-1 with two goals from Alex Ovechkin. Washington goaltender Vitek Vanecek saved 33 of 34 shots on goal, letting in a power-play goal from Artemi Panarin. The Rangers seem to have found their stride, offensive production-wise, evidenced by the 9-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers Wednesday. Despite their uptick in goals, the Washington Capitals’ blueline shutdown playmaker Mika Zibanejad, who tallied six points in the second period of the game against the Flyers.
Overall, the Washington Capitals have a better defence in guys like John Carlson and Justin Schultz, offence in almost all four lines, and brick wall goaltending in rookie Vanecek. The Rangers, while offensively adequate, have virtually no defence and very lacklustre goaltending. The Washington Capitals will collect the two points and their eighth straight win.
Capitals win 5-3.