Welcome back to NHL Predictions, March 23rd 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 and final set for March 23rd featuring the Tampa Bay Lightning vs Dallas Stars. Be sure and check out the first set of NHL Predictions, too.
**All statistics in this article have been sourced from Natural Stat Trick unless otherwise stated.
NHL Predictions Feat Tampa Bay Lightning vs Dallas Stars
Detroit Red Wings vs Nashville Predators
Head-to-Head: Red Wings 2 – 2 Predators
The Red Wings have conjured a few notable wins over Tampa, Carolina and Dallas, lately. Their offensive production has come from defenseman Filip Hronek who has a decent haul of assists (17) this year, and centreman Robby Fabbri who has scored five goals over his last five games.
Although, Detroit’s continued success may depend on the injury status of goaltender Jonathan Bernier. The 13-year veteran left Thursday’s game against the Dallas Stars with a lower-body injury. His backup, Thomas Greiss has had a miserable season (2-12-4). According to MoneyPuck, Greiss has saved -16.4 goals above expected compared to Bernier’s 1.8 GSAx.
Meanwhile, Nashville returns home after a surprisingly successful eight-game road trip. In spite of their long list of injuries, the Predators went 4-3-1, which included wins over the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Eeli Tolvanen continues to impress after he recorded his first three-point game in the NHL. He leads all rookies this season in powerplay goals with four. Juuse Saros also returned from injury and looked to have rediscovered his form from last season. He stopped 87 of 89 shots during the Florida series, giving Nashville every chance to come out of those two games with a sweep. I expect that his increased confidence will give the Predators the edge at home.
Prediction: Predators win 4-2
Tampa Bay Lightning vs Dallas Stars
Head-to-Head: Lightning 3 – 0 Stars
Dallas can’t seem to catch a break on the injury front. On Sunday, Radek Faksa and Joel Kiviranta were added to the list of casualties as both left the game against the Predators with lower-body injuries. This could mean that the Stars are without their top three centres (Seguin, Faksa, Hintz) against the reigning Stanley Cup Champions on Tuesday. Their second-highest goalscorer, Roope Hintz will be a perpetual game-time decision for the rest of the season.
Offensively, the one thing the Stars can take solace in is that Jason Robertson is announcing himself as an NHL playmaker. Robertson is second in the league in primary assists per 60 minutes (1.81) behind only Nathan MacKinnon.
On the other hand, Tampa Bay is on the verge of breaking a franchise record. If the Bolts win on Tuesday, Andrei Vasilevskiy will have won 12 straight games in net, surpassing Louis Domingue‘s record set in 2018-19. Remarkably, the Lightning’s starting netminder has shutout Dallas in each of their last three meetings. He is in a prime position to make it four from four with all of the Stars’ casualties.
Prediction: Lightning win 5-2
Colorado Avalanche vs Arizona Coyotes
Head-to-Head: Avalanche 4 – 1 Coyotes
Colorado improved to 20-8-2 and registered its seventh straight victory on Monday with a dominant 5-1 win over Arizona. It was all too easy for the Avalanche, who restricted the Coyotes to 25 shots and limited their scoring chances with a masterclass in backchecking.
Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored Arizona’s only goal, which was also his first goal of the season to spoil Grubauer’s shutout. Aside from that, however, it was all Colorado. Yotes head coach Rick Tocchet will be demanding a response after a severely disappointing performance. Arizona is six points back of the St Louis Blues in fourth in the West.
Now with both teams on the second game of a back-to-back, the goaltending situation becomes intriguing. Will the Avalanche hand Jonas Johansson his club debut? He was backing up Philip Grubauer on Monday but hasn’t won an NHL game this season. Arizona is likely to give Antti Raanta a rest and play back-up Adin Hill, who has also struggled of late.
Given that neither backup provides much stability, my gut says Colorado again. They looked like they were playing a different sport on Monday.
Prediction: Avalanche wins 4-3
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