Welcome back to NHL Predictions, March 25th edition! Each day, the Last Word On Hockey team will break down every game and give our NHL predictions for each matchup. Go check out the other two prediction articles for the slate of games today!
NHL Predictions: Vegas Golden Knights vs Colorado Avalanche
Detroit Red Wings vs Nashville Predators
Head-to-Head: Red Wings 2 – 3 Predators
The Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators will face-off for the sixth time this season. The Wings currently sit last in the Central Division and 29th in the league with 24 points. Their points leader is Filip Hronek, who just scored his first goal of the season on an empty net last Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes; he leads with 18 points. Robby Fabbri has also been tearing it up with a team-leading nine goals. Sandwiched between Hronek and Fabbri in the point totals department is Dylan Larkin, who has had an uncharacteristically mediocre season. Larkin plays an extremely fast-paced game and can take advantage of minute defensive mistakes. However, Larkin has not been able to do that so far this year. Another top forward in Anthony Mantha has been relatively quiet as well.
As for the Predators, they just got captain Roman Josi back from injury on Tuesday. With that came a primary assist on a Mikael Granlund powerplay tip, of course. Eeli Tolvanen notched his first-ever three-point game against the Dallas Stars and is in a four-way tie for third in goals among all rookies. He also leads Calder-eligible players in goals per game. Juuse Saros has also been lights out recently. He recorded his first shutout of the season on Tuesday and improved to 4-1-0 in his last six appearances; Over that span, he has a 1.13 goals-against average and a .968 save percentage. He has been lights out, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him steal the show once again. On the other hand, Pekka Rinne hasn’t been outstanding, but he was serviceable while Saros was out with an injury.
Prediction: Predators win 4-3
Tampa Bay Lightning vs Dallas Stars
Head-to-Head: Lightning 4 – 0 Stars
The Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars have been on two separate tracks since the Stanley Cup Final. The Lightning is easily the best team and is proving why they deserved the Stanley Cup last summer. They’re the first team to reach 50 points with a 24-6-2 record thanks to three 30+ point scorers. Victor Hedman leads the charge with 33, followed by Steven Stamkos with 31, and Brayden Point with 30. All three have done a fantastic job of keeping this team in contention while Nikita Kucherov recovers from an injury. In the net, they have Andrei Vasilevskiy, who has put up a stellar season so far and is the Vezina leader in most people’s minds. The praise is deserved as well, as his numbers are astounding. He leads the league in goals saved above expected (GSAx) per Evolving-Hockey by over four.
The Stars have been utterly abysmal since their fantastic start to the season. Their top two defensemen in John Klingberg and Miro Heiskanen have been controlling play per usual, but most of their top six have been hurt. Alexander Radulov has been on and off the ice consistently, Roope Hintz took a stint on the injured list, and Tyler Seguin has been on the IR since the start of the season. It also doesn’t help that Ben Bishop, one of the most consistent goalies in the entire NHL over a three-year sample, has been out since the start of the year as well. That injury and an Anton Khudobin downtrend have thrust young goaltender Jake Oettinger into a starting position. The Stars have consistently tried to find a game to jumpstart their resurgence. However, it’s doubtful that that comes against Tampa Bay.
Prediction: Lightning win 4-2
Vegas Golden Knights vs Colorado Avalanche
Head-to-Head: Knights 1 – 2 Avalanche
The Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche are two of the most exciting teams to watch today’s NHL. They both play a speed-oriented yet physical game with hard forechecking and dynamic offence. Mark Stone is the epitome of this play style. Stone has accrued 38 points in 29 games, which is good for sixth in the NHL. He has 18 primary assists, which places him a spot lower among his peers at seventh. At the same time, he has been dominating on the offensive end and playing above average defensively. This is nothing new for Stone, but he continues to amaze with his out-of-this-world hand-eye coordination. When talking about Vezina candidates, Marc-Andre Fleury has had a fantastic bounce-back season. He is second in league GSAx, but with Robin Lehner returning, fewer starts for him. However, Fleury and his agent have both said the more he plays, the better he gets.
The Avalanche has been led by another potential Hart candidate, Nathan MacKinnon. Despite a cold patch, MacKinnon has returned to form, with the Avalanche slowly becoming a healthier team. Defenceman Cale Makar has returned from injury and started right where he left off. Mikko Rantanen is seventh in the league in scoring, and Nathan MacKinnon is 12th. Those two have driven the Avalanche’s offence so far this season, but no one should sleep on Gabriel Landeskog, who has 27 points in 29 games. In terms of goaltending, Philipp Grubauer could easily be a top-five Vezina candidate. He has a 7.26 GSAx, which is good for fourth in the league. If Lake Tahoe was an example of anything between these two teams, it’s that they’re very closely matched with good players up and down the lineup, along with fantastic goaltending.
Prediction: Knights win 3-2
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