Welcome back to NHL Predictions, March 23nd edition! Each day, the Last Word On Hockey team will break down every game and give our NHL predictions for each. This is the first set for March 23rd featuring the Florida Panthers vs Chicago Blackhawks. Be sure and check out the second set of NHL Predictions, too.
**All statistics from this article have been forced from TheScore.com unless otherwise stated.
NHL Predictions: March 23rd Feat. Florida Panthers vs Chicago Blackhawks
New Jersey Devils vs Philadelphia Flyers
Head-To-Head: Devils 0 – 2 Flyers
The Philadelphia Flyers (15-11-4) will look to turn the tides of March and get back into the East Division playoff race. The Flyers have just four wins to go with eight losses in March. Parked in fifth in the division, they are just two points back of the Boston Bruins, but they have played two more games. They managed to steal a point last night against the stingy division-leading New York Islanders in a 2-1 overtime loss. A better result was deserved as they outshot the Isles 37-20 and looked the better team. Philadelphia played without the services of Selke Trophy-winning forward Sean Couturier (lower-body). He will be a game-time decision in this contest. Having lost three in a row at Wells Fargo Centre, the Flyers will look to right the ship and get back into playoff position. Carter Hart will start tonight against the Devils.
The New Jersey Devils (11-14-4) have had a similar March as their opponents here, winning just four of 12 games. They are decent in form though, winning three of the last four including a 2-1 overtime win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday. Ten points out the playoffs and just 20 days from the NHL Trade Deadline they seem destined to be sellers. They have difficulty producing offence, sitting 30th in goals scored. Jack Hughes (nine goals, 16 assists) has been one of the few bright spots along with goaltenders Mackenzie Blackwood and Scott Wedgewood. Blackwood is expected to get the nod between the pipes in this battle.
Prediction: 3-2 Flyers
Florida Panthers vs Chicago Blackhawks
Head-To-Head: Florida 4 – 0 Blackhawks
The Florida Panthers (20-7-4) have been one of the biggest surprises of the 2021 NHL season. They have been in a battle with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes all season for first place in Central Division. They are fifth in the NHL in goals scored with 105, led by Aleksander Barkov (13 goals, 24 assists) and Jonathan Huberdeau (11 goals, 24 assists). Winners of seven in the last 10 games, they look to keep their undefeated streak against the Blackhawks going. They have won all four contests this season, handily outscoring their opponent 20-11. Sergei Bobrovsky will get the start for Florida in goal.
The Chicago Blackhawks (14-13-5) find themselves on a slide this month with just two wins and seven losses. They have also lost their last four games including two to these Panthers on the 13th and 15th. They are clinging to the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central, tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets at 33 points each. It will be a dog fight down the stretch and Chicago will need more magic from leading scorer Patrick Kane (12 goals, 30 assists). Their hopes may lie in the hands of rookie of the year candidate Kevin Lankinen. He has been outstanding posting a 2.87 goals-against average to go with a .914 save percentage in 21 starts. He will need to be at his very best against a hot Panthers team if the Blackhawks hope to pull off a win here.
Prediction: 5-2 Panthers
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