Welcome back to NHL Predictions, March 28th edition! Each day, the Last Word On Hockey team will break down every game and give our NHL predictions for each matchup. Today’s featured game is the New York Rangers vs Washington Capitals. Go check out the late predictions for today as well!
NHL Predictions: New York Rangers vs Washington Capitals
New York Rangers vs Washington Capitals
Head-to-Head: Rangers 3 – 1 Capitals
The New York Rangers and Washington Capitals will battle it out for the fourth time this season at Capital One Arena on national television. After two drubbings of the Philadelphia Flyers in a week, the Rangers offence has looked as potent as ever. Defenceman Adam Fox has emerged as a potential Norris Trophy candidate. Artemi Panarin has been inching back to his MVP calibre form of last season. Additionally, Kaapo Kakko, who put up one of the worst seasons by a player in the analytics era, has bounced back in a big way. The Finnish forward has been elite on the defensive side of the ice and could easily be a Selke candidate if he keeps this kind of play up. Finally, Mika Zibanejad has been on a tear lately. Despite a rough start to the season, Zibanejad has been piling up points thanks to two hat-tricks against the Flyers.
As for the Capitals, Alex Ovechkin has also started to put up the goals despite a somewhat slow start. Ovechkin’s partner in crime, Nicklas Backstrom, has been a consistent offensive force for the Capitals throughout Ovechkin’s rough patch. Backstrom is the Capitals leading point scorer with 35, 13 of which are goals. Of course, we can’t ignore both John Carlson and Jakub Vrana‘s production, as they are third and fourth respectively on the Capitals in terms of point-scoring. Carlson is another defenceman that has quietly put up good numbers and has a shot at another Norris trophy. While the Caps are the better team by a long shot, the Rangers have given them a lot of grief this season. However, with Ovechkin’s goal totals starting to return to normal, the Rangers need to be extra wary.
Prediction: Capitals win 4-2
Columbus Blue Jackets vs Detroit Red Wings
Head-to-Head: Blue Jackets 2 – 2 Red Wings
The Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings are two teams near the bottom of the Central Division and the league standings. The two teams battled it out on Saturday, and Detroit utterly dominated every aspect of the game. However, despite the one-game sample, the season series has been relatively even. Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand has continued his fantastic play. He leads the Jackets in goals, assists, and points. Cam Atkinson is tied with him for first in goals, and he is one assist ahead of Jack Roslovic and Seth Jones for first. However, despite the small disparity in those two individual statistics, he leads in points by five with 28. Patrik Laine is still concerningly silent and has been for a while. He hasn’t scored a goal since March 11th in a game against the Florida Panthers. Over the seven games since that appearance, Laine has only two assists.
The Red Wings beat Columbus coming off of a rough two-game set against the Nashville Predators. Dylan Larkin tallied two assists in the win on Saturday against the Jackets, which puts him second behind Filip Hronek in points with 18. Goaltender Calvin Pickard saved 21 of 22 shots in the 3-1 win. Robby Fabbri scored a goal and put himself third in points among the Red Wings with 17, with 10 of those 17 points are goals. The Red Wings played 12 forwards and six defencemen in their win against the Jackets after dressing 11 forwards and seven defensemen in the previous eight games. It will be intriguing to see what head coach Jeremy Blashill is planning on doing with his roster.
Prediction: Blue Jackets win 3-2
Anaheim Ducks vs St. Louis Blues
Head-to-Head: Ducks 1 – 4 Blues
The Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues are another matchup in this set of games where the season series is rather lopsided. The Blues have been somewhat underwhelming this season, which may be due to poor performances from newly-inked goaltender Jordan Binnington. David Perron has been no slouch this season, leading the Blues in goals, assists, and points, just like Bjorkstrand. One of the most elite passers in the game, Ryan O’Reilly, has also been a top contributor to the Blues so far, notching 32 points with 11 goals and 21 assists. The Blues previously lost to the Ducks, mainly due to a remarkable comeback game from John Gibson, who got activated off of injured reserve.
Max Comtois and Rickard Rakell are still the main threats on offence for the Ducks. Rookie Trevor Zegras has been very solid despite not putting up astounding point totals. Jamie Drysdale looked excellent before exiting the game on Friday after an awkward hit along the boards. Adam Henrique is atop some trade boards and the same with Rakell. However, Henrique’s contract at 5.825 million AAV for the next three years could hinder any possibility of trading him at the deadline. Another fantastic Gibson start could help lead the Ducks to a win.
Prediction: Blues win 2-1
New Jersey Devils vs Boston Bruins
Head-to-Head: Devils 3 – 1 Bruins
The New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins are two teams on the opposite ends of the standings, but most would expect the latter to be winning the season series. The Devils are expecting to be sellers at this upcoming trade deadline. Kyle Palmieri headlines their “up for sale” pool of players, but he hasn’t been one of their top performers this season. Pavel Zacha leads the team with 19 points, followed by rookie defenceman Ty Smith and sophomore forward Jack Hughes. Smith is a player this season as someone to watch. With that in mind, it’s good to see he is continuing his overall solid play. Hughes, like Kakko, had a historically bad season in his rookie year. However, he is showing strong signs of improvement both offensively and defensively. Hughes may not be a Selke candidate, but his skating has looked excellent per usual. His overall offensive instincts look sharp as well.
The Bruins are coming off a win against the Buffalo Sabres, which gave the Sabres 17 total games in their winless streak. Brad Marchand was previously put on the Covid-19 protocol list. He joins Jake DeBrusk and Sean Kuraly on the list for the Bruins. Despite the loss of arguably their best forward, the Bruins pulled out a win against a bad Sabres team. David Pastrnak led the way despite only getting on the scoresheet once in the form of an assist. He leads the team in goals with 14 and is second on the team in points with 27. Charlie McAvoy could be in the Norris Trophy contention this season, as he is controlling play exceptionally well and tallying points. He is fourth in points on the roster and first outside of the perfection line. His game this season has been awe-inspiring.
Prediction: Bruins win 4-1
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