Welcome back to NHL Predictions, April 12th edition! Each day, the Last Word On Hockey team will break down every game and give our NHL predictions for each. This is the second set of games featuring the Winnipeg Jets vs Ottawa Senators. Be sure and check out the first and third set of NHL Predictions, too.
NHL Predictions Feat Winnipeg Jets vs Ottawa Senators
Winnipeg Jets vs Ottawa Senators
Head-to-Head: Jets 5 – 1 Senators
Winnipeg has bounced back well this week, going 3-0 after being swept in a two-game series against the Maple Leafs at the beginning of April.
As you’d expect, they continue to ride the coattails of supreme goaltending; Connor Hellebuyck ranks second in the NHL in goals saved above expected (20.3), trailing only Andrei Vasileskiy (24.7). It’ll be interesting to see if general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff grabs some support for his netminder at the deadline, particularly given Winnipeg’s rancid expected goals against rate, which is 29th in the league.
So far this year, the Jets have been dominant against the Senators, scoring four or more goals on five occasions. In the head-to-head series, Mark Scheifele leads in scoring with three goals and 11 points while Nikolaj Ehlers is just behind him on four goals and nine points.
Ottawa, meanwhile, can’t keep the puck out of its net. The Senators have given up three or more goals in seven consecutive games. Worse still, they have only conceded less than three goals on nine occasions this season, four of which were against the Flames.
Recently, Anton Forsberg has been starting in goal and has stopped 167 of 184 shots in his five starts (.908 save percentage). One can’t help but feel that Ottawa is trying to coax someone to trade for him as a depth piece. Although, after the flurry of trades over the weekend, (Rittich to Toronto and Dubnyk to Colorado) it seems like the market for goalies has dried up.
Prediction: Winnipeg wins 4-3
St Louis Blues vs Minnesota Wild
Head-to-Head: Blues 2 – 1 Wild
The Blues are one of the most intriguing teams as we approach the deadline. While they have been inconsistent throughout the year, they are beginning to get hot at the right time. Following their overtime win against Minnesota on Saturday, St Louis leapfrogged the Coyotes into the final playoff spot.
During their current three-game win streak, captain Ryan O’Reilly has led the team with five points, including a hat-trick in St Louis’ 9-1 curb-stomping of the Minnesota Wild on Friday. Other contributors include Vince Dunn, who has notched four assists and Mike Hoffman, who scored two goals on Saturday after being a healthy scratch for two straight games.
Hoffman’s recent performance puts general manager Doug Armstrong in a tricky position; in the buildup to the deadline, there were suspicions that the Blues were thinking of trading him away. But now that Robert Thomas has gone down injured, they may be forced to ride with Hoffman as his replacement and see how the season pans out.
On the other hand, Minnesota will be looking to find a response after losing consecutive games to the Blues. While their third-place spot isn’t in immediate danger, the Wild still have four more games against St Louis after this one. Their seven-point cushion could disappear in a hurry if they continue dropping decisions against their bitter rivals.
Luckily, Dean Evason‘s side has been excellent at home this season. They’ve gone 14-4-0 to date and are outscoring opponents 61-38, which ranks sixth in the NHL.
Prediction: Wild respond and take a close one, 3-2
Arizona Coyotes vs Colorado Avalanche
Head-to-Head: Coyotes 2 – 5 Avalanche
Arizona’s next five games are all against teams in a playoff spot, which is certainly a challenging way to shirk off a three-game losing streak.
The main issue Arizona has faced is goaltending injuries. After Antti Raanta joined Darcy Kuemper on injured reserve on March 23rd, the Yotes have struggled to find any consistency between the pipes. In his last seven games, Adin Hill has stopped 168 of his 188 shots faced for a paltry .893 save percentage, he was also pulled twice in that span. His relief on both occasions was rookie Ivan Prosvetov who didn’t fare any better.
Unfortunately, I don’t expect any let-up for this temporary tandem with Colorado firing on all cylinders. Particularly considering how hot Nathan MacKinnon has been of late. As Dimitri Filipovic tweeted yesterday, the Avs leading scorer has 63 shots on goal over the last 15 games, scoring nine times while assisting on 17 occasions.
Prediction: Avalanche win 5-1