Welcome back to NHL Predictions, April 8th edition! Each day, the Last Word On Hockey team will break down every game and give our NHL predictions for each. This is the third and final set for April 8th featuring the Dallas Stars vs Chicago Blackhawks. Be sure and check out the first and second set of NHL Predictions, too.
NHL Predictions Feat Dallas Stars vs Chicago Blackhawks
Philadelphia Flyers vs New York Islanders
Head-to-Head: Flyers 3 – 3 Islanders
Philadelphia’s season is hanging by a thread.
Despite five games against the New Jersey Devils to come, the Flyers simply don’t have enough rope to survive if they aren’t picking up precious points against the Isles, the Bruins and the Capitals in the meantime.
Luckily, Carter Hart has shown considerable improvement over his last two games, which maybe means the police won’t have to start greasing the lamposts just yet in downtown Philly. However, what should concern head coach Alain Vigneault is that the team isn’t supporting their goaltender with good play in front of him,
At five-on-five, the Flyers are 23rd in the league in high-danger scoring chance share (47.14 percent). Ultimately, they struggle to create quality in the dangerous areas on the ice.
Needless to say, if Philadelphia doesn’t raise its game, it’ll be cannon fodder against Barry Trotz’s side who rank first in both goals-for per 60 and high-danger goal share and are fourth in expected goals against.
What’s more, the Islanders will be on a high after the business they pulled off on Wednesday night, landing Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac in a pre-deadline blockbuster deal. You have to imagine the players will come out firing on all cylinders after witnessing the faith their general manager has shown in them.
Prediction: Isles put Philly to the sword, win 5-2
Nashville Predators vs Detroit Red Wings
Head-to-Head: Predators 5 – 2 Red Wings
Nashville comes into its final contest with Detroit rocking a dominant powerplay (30.4 percent) in the season series.
It is remarkable to think how bad they were in the first month of the season (four goals in 33 attempts). Undoubtedly the rejuvenation of their special teams (now 16th with 21.16 percent) is chiefly down to the emergence of Eeli Tolvanen. His six powerplay goals lead the rookie class and he has tallied eleven points in total on the man advantage.
On the other hand, Detroit will be feeling optimistic in spite of the gloom which has surrounded much of their 2020-21 campaign. Especially given the fact that the trade deadline beckons numerous possibilities for stockpiling assets.
While some of the veterans may be on their way out, the good news is the youth movement is finally being encouraged by the Red Wings. Detroit’s core of Dylan Larkin, Filip Zadina, Anthony Mantha, Robby Fabbri and Filip Hronek is a promising bunch for Steve Yzerman to build around.
There is also some encouragement to be taken from the on-ice performance. Particularly from Thomas Greiss, who has finally rediscovered his New York Islanders form. He has stopped 140 of his last 149 shots and is rocking a .940 save percentage in his last five games. One can expect a few more wins if the support for the kids continues to come from between the pipes.
Prediction: Nashville has Detroit’s number, wins 3-1
Dallas Stars vs Chicago Blackhawks
Head-to-Head: Stars 1 – 4 Blackhawks
This matchup is season-defining.
With both clubs jockeying in pursuit of Nashville in the fourth and final playoff spot, the result could provide the springboard which launches one of them into a landscape-altering stretch run.
After this meeting, neither side will face each other again until their back-to-back regular-season finale, by which time, there could be a ‘win and you’re in’ -style elimination game.
Statistically, Dallas continues to dominate at five-on-five while struggling to find any sort of finish to their game. The Stars’ team shooting percentage of 6.9 percent at even strength ranks 28th in the NHL. What’s worse, their powerplay has also floundered against the Blackhawks (one for 15), who lay claim to one of the feeblest killing units in the entire league.
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks certainly don’t struggle on the finishing front. In the last five games, Alex DeBrincat has scored four times, (including two game-winners) and now holds sole possession of fourth (20 goals) in the Rocket Richard race. His chief supplier, Patrick Kane has eight points in his last nine games and ranks third in overall points on the year.
Although the Stars get an important morale boost by having their head coach Rick Bowness back behind the bench on Thursday. He rejoins the team after a false positive COVID test that sidelined him for Tuesday’s loss.
Prediction: Do or die for the Stars. I say they make it interesting and win 3-2
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