Welcome to another day of NHL Predictions! Each day, Last Word on Hockey takes a look at every game and gives our predictions for the score. There is also a featured game for each slate of games. Today’s featured game is the Vegas Golden Knights vs Colorado Avalanche. Be sure to check out the other two articles for the mid and late games in NHL predictions today too.
NHL Predictions with Edmonton Oilers vs Toronto Maple Leafs
Buffalo Sabres vs Boston Bruins
Head-to-Head: Sabres 0 – 1 Bruins
The Buffalo Sabres are on a 16-game losing streak. Stars Taylor Hall and Jack Eichel both only have two goals. They just traded their second-line centre, Eric Staal, to Montreal. Their goaltending situation is uncertain thanks to injuries and figuring out their post-trade lineup won’t be any clearer.
The Boston Bruins have been fairly mediocre in their last five games, going 2-2-1. This included a 4-1 win over Buffalo. It would take a team of gophers to lose to the Sabres right now, especially after Staal’s departure. The Bruins need to wrangle up their offence, who have been outscored 10-14 in their last five, if they want to emphatically topple Buffalo. But it’d be hard to envision a scenario where Boston isn’t coming out with a win.
Prediction: Bruins win 3-1.
New York Rangers vs Philadelphia Flyers
Head-to-Head: Rangers 3 – 2 Flyers
The bout between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers is becoming the stuff of legends. The two teams have met up five times and New York has taken at least one point away in four of those. But what’s worse, the Rangers have outscored the Flyers 27 to 14 in their five meetings so far. This is largely thanks to one 9-0 win and one 8-3 win which have come in the most recent meetings between the two teams.
It’s comical how well New York is playing against Philadelphia right now. On paper, neither team really stands out. The Rangers have been getting promising play from their depth but the Flyers lineup is hammered-out. But on the ice, the Flyers defence has been crumbling, leaving their struggling goalies open to exploitation.
Since the Rangers beat the Flyers 9-0, Philidelphia has gone 1-3-1, including a four-game winless streak. Meanwhile, New York is on a three-game win streak and has a 3-1-0 record in that same span. Take the hot hand… New York is winning this one.
Predictions: Rangers win 5-2.
Columbus Blue Jackets vs Detroit Red Wings
Head-to-Head: Blue Jackets 2 – 1 Red Wings
The Columbus Blue Jackets have won or lost a lot of games by the skin of their teeth recently. They’re 3-1-3 in their last seven games and all but one of those games were decided in overtime or a shootout. That’s an impressively high ratio of games. But it shouldn’t cloud the lens; Columbus still isn’t a great team. They’ve struggled all year, plagued by one of the worst coaches in the NHL. They’re fifth in the Central Division; one of the easiest Divisions in the NHL.
But the Detroit Red Wings are dead last in the same Division. In fact, they’re second-last in the entire NHL. It’s another year of struggles and questions surrounding the Red Wings.
This match is very similar to that between Boston and Buffalo. The Blue Jackets haven’t done anything special in their last stretch of games but it’d be hard to lose to the Detroit Red Wings.
Predictions: Blue Jackets win 2-0.
Vegas Golden Knights vs Colorado Avalanche
Head-to-Head: Golden Knights 2 – 3 Avalanche
This is, easily, the most exciting game of this slate. It features two Stanley Cup favourites and some of the most talented players in the league.
The Vegas Golden Knights have an absolutely ruthless lineup. Pre-season arguments worried that Vegas would struggle this year due to a lack of centre depth. But they’ve proven that centre depth doesn’t matter at all when the talent on the flanks is just that good. Chandler Stephenson has formed an incredible bond with Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty, creating perhaps the most formidable line in the league. The trio has appeared on the ice together for 28 goals, while only allowing 10. That’s an incredible ratio. When Stone, Pacioretty, and Stephenson are together, they outscore opponents nearly 3-to-1. The trio is backed by the trio of William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, and Reilly Smith. This line is also absolutely dominating, outscoring opponents at a rate just-under 2-to-1.
But Vegas’ strength hasn’t mattered at all. At least, not against the Colorado Avalanche. Saturday’s game is the latter of a small, two-game series between the two teams. Colorado won the first game 5-1 and didn’t give Vegas a single chance all game. It was a dominant showing, one that the Avalanche are quickly becoming known for. On the back of a star-studded top-six, the Avalanche are on an incredible 14-4-2 tear. This includes a nine-game point-streak where Colorado has racked up a 8-0-1 record.
The duo of Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen are simply too good for teams to handle. Both are hot-take candidates for the 2021 Hart Trophy and, when they’re on the ice together, they’ve outscored opponents 43-to-13. That’s an incredibly-high rate, even more impressive than the terrific top-line that Vegas has to offer.
This matchup marks a clash of two stars. But Colorado has just a little more to offer. Unless Vegas’ goaltending comes up strong, Colorado will take the game with ease.
Prediction: Avalanche win 6-3.