Welcome back to NHL Predictions, April 14th edition! Each day, the Last Word On Hockey team will break down every game and give our NHL predictions for each. This is the first set of games featuring the Calgary Flames vs Montreal Canadiens. Be sure and check out the second set of NHL Predictions, too.
NHL Predictions With Calgary Flames vs Montreal Canadiens
Calgary Flames vs Montreal Canadiens
Head-to-Head: Flames 3 – 1 Canadiens
The last time these two sides met Darryl Sutter was making his coaching debut for the Calgary Flames. Despite going 2-0 in that series, the Flames have since fallen out of the race for the final playoff spot in the North Division. In their last 14 games, they have posted a 5-9-0 record and been outscored 44-35.
Unsurprisingly, Calgary’s biggest concern right now is its goaltending. During the aforementioned stretch, Jacob Markstrom has struggled with consistency (.886 save percentage), despite a couple of strong games against the Toronto Maple Leafs including a shutout on Monday.
What’s more, Calgary’s depth between the pipes has also taken a hit after they traded David Rittich to Toronto at the deadline. If Markstrom continues to struggle, we may see Sutter giving rookie Artyom Zagidulin more game time.
Elsewhere, Montreal managed to put an end to their three-game losing streak in a confidence-boosting triumph over the North Division leaders. Tomas Tatar recorded his second multi-goal game of the year and Josh Anderson (15 goals) tallied to take sole possession of second-place in goal-scoring on the team.
It is worth noting that the top-two goalscorers on the Canadiens roster (Anderson and Tyler Toffoli) were added in the 2020 offseason. Toffoli ranks ninth in the league in goals with 19.
Prediction: Montreal wins 4-2
Winnipeg Jets vs Ottawa Senators
Head-to-Head: Jets 5 – 2 Senators
Winnipeg’s biggest flaw reared its ugly head on Monday in a brutal defensive display which the Ottawa Senators took to full advantage.
Evgenii Dadonov and Brady Tkachuk, in particular, caused serious problems and put huge pressure on Winnipeg’s blueliners. Ottawa’s offence also forced a couple of breakaways in the game and overturned a 2-0 deficit to win at home for the first time in April.
It certainly wasn’t the performance that Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff would have wanted to see after he abstained from spending big on a premium defenceman at the deadline; something this club was in desperate need of. The only addition Winnipeg made was former Vancouver Canuck Jordie Benn, who is a depth piece at best.
Prediction: Winnipeg rebounds and wins 5-1
Colorado Avalanche vs St Louis Blues
Head-to-Head: Avalanche 3 – 1 Blues
As a result of their game postponement on Tuesday, the St. Louis Blues haven’t played since the trade deadline, which ended up being a quiet one for them. Despite all of the trade speculation over assets like Vince Dunn, Mike Hoffman and Jaden Schwartz, the Blues opted to stick with their group and head into the stretch run with the team they had on opening night.
This may end up being the right call. After all, they have currently seen an improvement in the form of goal scoring and goaltending on the upswing in their current three-game win streak. Notably, Jaden Schwartz put an end to a 17-game scoring drought while Jordan Binnington and Ville Husso combined for a team save percentage of .962.
Prediction: Avalanche win a close one, 3-2
Arizona Coyotes vs Minnesota Wild
Head-to-Head: Coyotes 1 – 4 Wild
This contest is the Arizona Coyotes final leg of a gruelling nine-game road trip, during which time, the team has jostled with the St Louis Blues for the final playoff spot.
According to points percentage, the Coyotes (0.455) have one of the worst away records in the NHL. Though, this is likely due to the length of their trips, with 16 of their road games coming in two huge chunks this year.
That being said, goaltending continues to drag this team down. Rookie Ivan Prosvetov managed only 16 saves on 19 shots against the Avalanche on Monday; he has a season save percentage of .824. Adin Hill will likely start in net for the Yotes on Wednesday, who has fared only marginally better (.893) since Antti Raanta‘s injury.
In the season series with Arizona so far, the two biggest performers for Minnesota are Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello. The Russian rookie has three goals, (a hat trick) and four assists, while Zuccarello has two goals and five assists.
Prediction: Wild wins at home, Coyotes lose away, 4-3