Welcome back to another day of NHL Predictions. Each day, Last Word on Hockey takes a look at the games that are happening and gives our predictions for each one. Breaking down head-to-head and other factors that may play in. We also have a featured game of the day, which is considered must-watch TV. Today’s featured game is the Carolina Hurricanes vs Florida Panthers.
NHL Predictions with Carolina Hurricanes vs Florida Panthers
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Ottawa Senators
Head-to-head: Lightning 0-0 Senators
Both teams enter this afternoon’s game fresh off of losses. The difference, of course, is that while the Tampa Bay Lightning lost a closely contested overtime battle with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Ottawa Senators were absolutely throttled by the Vegas Golden Knights.
Those results jive with the current Atlantic Division standings which have the Lightning sitting in third and the Senators in seventh. The defending Stanley Cup Champions haven’t had the greatest start to the season, with a 5-3-2 record and a minus two-goal differential, but they are still a better team than the young Senators. Ottawa has only managed three wins in their first 10 games and sport one of the worst goal differentials in the league at minus 10.
A couple of things will be working in Ottawa’s favour, though. Brady Tkachuk will be playing his first game as captain of the team. Additionally, Mikhail Sergachev will not be playing for the Lightning following his two-game suspension for a hit to the head of Mitch Marner.
Even with these factors in mind, the Lightning should be able to win against an inferior opponent. If you’re a bettor, a Tkachuk goal may be worth considering in his captaincy debut.
Prediction: Lightning win 4-2
Minnesota Wild vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Head-to-head: Wild 0-0 Penguins
The Pittsburgh Penguins have had just about everything thrown at them this season from an injury perspective. Evgeni Malkin hasn’t played a game, Sidney Crosby has only played one due to offseason surgery and is now out with Covid, and that is in addition to several others who have also been knocked out of the lineup due to Covid issues.
Somehow, the Penguins have kept their heads above water with a 4-3-2 record. A large part of that has been the brilliant play of Tristan Jarry who has a 4-2-1 record with a .930 save percentage and 2.12 goals-against average. He will likely duel it out with the Wild’s Cam Talbot who doesn’t have quite as good of individual numbers (.905 save percentage, 2.72 goals-against average), but has a rock-solid 6-2 record.
Despite Pittsburgh’s edge on the season in goals for and against er game, they are short too many key players. Expect this one to be close, but the Wild should win.
Prediction: Wild win 3-2
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Washington Capitals
Head-to-head: Flyers 0-0 Capitals
We have officially entered must-watch territory when it comes to games featuring Alexander Ovechkin. The 36-year-old is off to one of the best starts of his career, with 18 points and 10 goals in his first 10 games. Is it too early to start talking about 50 goals in 50 games scenario? Probably, but we are 20% of the way there so it’s worth noting.
Tonight, the Ovechkin-led Capitals will welcome the Philadelphia Flyers into their rink for their first matchup of the season. They currently sit only two points apart in the Metropolitan Division, which could become a year-long battle between the two squads. As a result, even though it’s early, this game could have implications on the final standings.
Surprisingly, the Flyers will actually have the edge in the net, as the Flyers will likely send out Carter Hart (.926 save percentage, 2.41 goals-against average) against Vitek Vanecek (.902 save percentage, 2.49 goals-against average).
The key difference between the Capitals and Flyers is their expected goal percentages. Washington is among the league’s best at 56.4%, whereas Philadelphia sits near the bottom of the league at 46.18%.
Carter Hart is good, but he won’t be enough to hold off the Capitals. Expect a high-scoring affair, and Ovechkin goal – or two or three – and a Capitals win.
Prediction: Capitals win 5-4 (OT)
Carolina Hurricanes vs Florida Panthers
Head-to-head: Hurricanes 0-0 Panthers
This is the featured game for a reason. These are two of the best teams in the entire league. They are also competing for a chance to make history.
Either the Carolina Hurricanes will have the best 10-game start in NHL history, or the Florida Panthers will have the best 11-game start in NHL history.
History either way!
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) November 5, 2021
The guaranteed history makes tonight’s matchup incredibly special.
On one hand, we have the Carolina Hurricanes. The ‘Canes are undefeated with a record of 9-0, have the league’s best goal differential (+22) and are first in the Metropolitan Division. They are third in the league in goals for per game (4.10) and second in the league in goals against per game (2.10). Andrei Svechnikov, who is off to a wicked start, leads the team with 13 points in nine games. In net, Frederik Andersen will suit up with a shimmering 8-0 record and .949 save percentage.
Countering that effort is the Florida Panthers. First, in the Atlantic Division, they have an equally impressive 9-0-1 record and a second-best +19 goal differential. Remarkably, they have the edge on the Panthers in terms of goals per game with 4.11 (second-best in the league) and goals against per game with 1.67 (best in the league). Sergei Bobrovsky is on a renaissance campaign with his .948 save percentage in six games, while Aleksander Barkov has seven goals and 12 points.
This is as good as it gets. Two goliath teams scrapping it out with the goal of cementing themselves in history.
The Panthers are at home and have an edge in special teams though. That will be enough to hand the Hurricanes their first loss of the season.
Prediction: Panthers win 3-2
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