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 Vegas Golden Knights vs Detroit Red Wings.
NHL Predictions with Vegas Golden Knights vs Detroit Red Wings
Nashville Predators vs Chicago Blackhawks
Head-to-Head: Predators 0 – 0 Blackhawks
Many pegged the Blackhawks as potentially the most improved team this offseason, but their 1-9-2 start says otherwise in a big way. On the other hand, the Predators sit right in the thick of the playoff race, currently 6-5-0. With 70+ games left to play, though, much remains to be seen from both of these teams.
That being said, Chicago decided they’d seen enough from head coach Jeremy Colliton, firing him Saturday. Fans called for the change earlier, and though management re-iterated their “rebuild” mentality, it looks like one win and a -21 goal differential was…too bad. Meanwhile, the Predators have rattled off five wins in their last six games. Nashville sits in the top half of the league in scoring to boot. Juuse Saros looks great in his first year as the team’s bonafide starter, while Marc-Andre Fleury flounders behind Chicago’s porous defence.
Prediction: Predators win 4-1
New York Islanders vs Minnesota Wild
Head-to-Head: Islanders 0 – 0 Wild
Both teams find themselves in the back half of a back-to-back, so should be evenly matched in those terms. The Wild boasts a slightly better record, but a good number of their wins have come via overtime. The Islanders don’t score much, but they give up even fewer. Ilya Sorokin logged every minute for their first eight games leading into Saturday’s game, and he’ll likely get a rest in this first “two-games-in-two-nights” scenario of the year. Semyon Varlamov, who sat out with injury for the early stretch of the season, likely makes his season debut this weekend.
Minnesota has had an interesting start to the year, with Marcus Foligno tied for the team lead in goals (with Ryan Hartman) and points (with Kirill Kaprizov). Foligno’s play has him on the wing with the first line, though his ice time still ranks seventh on the team. Cam Talbot could be better, but at 6-2-0 he’s finding ways to win games even with only a .500 quality start percentage.
This should be a hard-nosed effort from both franchises. Matthew Barzal needs to hit his stride for the Isles still, and ultimately their ability to shut the door should outmatch Minnesota.
Prediction: Islanders win 2-1 OT
St. Louis Blues vs Anaheim Ducks
Head-to-Head: Blues 0 – 0 Ducks
This game should be really fun. The Ducks are on the up-and-up, with an exciting young lineup finding its way in the NHL. The Blues sit atop the Central Division with a strong 7-1-1 record, though those two losses came in their last four contests. They’re running into health issues though, with Kyle Clifford, Ville Husso, Ryan O’Reilly, Torey Krug, Brayden Schenn, and Oskar Sundqvist all on their injury list. The first three, respectively, may be cleared for this game; if not, they’ll be noticeably thin on talent.
The real stories in St. Louis have been Vladamir Tarasenko and Jordan Binnington. Tarasenko requested a trade this offseason but hasn’t let that affect his play. He leads the team with 11 points in nine games. Binnington is 5-1-1 with a .929 save percentage. Goaltending could be a huge factor, as Anaheim’s John Gibson ranks among the best goaltenders in the league too. Troy Terry (24 years old) needs one goal to pass his previous career-high of seven, just 11 games into the year too. Expect a feisty matchup in St. Louis this evening.
Prediction: Ducks win 4-3
Dallas Stars vs Vancouver Canucks
Head-to-Head: Stars 0 – 0 Canucks
It’s hard to imagine either franchise is particularly energized about their starts to the season thus far. Neither boasts a winning record, yet both have playoff aspirations. Whether the rest of the league would agree with those aspirations is another conversation, but nonetheless, these aren’t happy teams.
The Stars and Canucks both don’t have a player with five goals yet on their roster. They both sit in the bottom third in the league in goals for and rank almost at the very bottom in goals against. Obviously, their goal differentials are both negative since they’re giving up the most and scoring the fewest league-wide. Oddly, they both are getting relatively decent goaltending, with a team save percentages above .910.
This one’s a toss-up, but both want the win to try building some momentum. Since the Canucks are at home, I guess they have the edge…
Prediction: Canucks win 2-0
Vegas Golden Knights vs Detroit Red Wings
Head-to-Head: Knights 0 – 0 Red Wings
The featured game tonight pits the Golden Knights against the Red Wings in a cross-conference matchup. Detroit came out of the gate hot, but a recent losing streak put them back near .500. Vegas has yet to look like the powerhouse they were last season, and remain hovering around the .500 mark as well. Expectations for the two squads entering the year fell at opposite sides of the spectrum, yet results thus far leave them in one another’s company in the bottom half of the standings.
The Wings’ best player thus far has been Tyler Bertuzzi. With him in the lineup, they’re 4-2-2 entering Saturday’s game in Buffalo. However, he can’t travel to Canada due to his vaccination status, where the Wings have gone 0-3-0 without him in the lineup. He’ll be available against Vegas and has nine points in eight games. Lucas Raymond leads the team with ten points (five goals, five assists), and defenceman Moritz Seider has racked up nine assists already to start his NHL career.
Vegas might not yet have the wins people expected, but that didn’t stop them from acquiring one of the best forwards in the entire league this week. Though he’s unavailable for at least three more months, however, you still have to mention the Jack Eichel trade. It indicates their optimism and expectations for the season, even with a mediocre start. They’re still without him and Max Pacioretty for the foreseeable future and rely on depth centreman Chandler Stephenson now more than ever. He’s shining, too, with ten points in ten games. The drop-off is steep after him, as Vegas needs more scoring by-committee until its stars can all re-join the club.
Prediction: Red Wings win 3-2
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