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 Calgary Flames vs Los Angeles Kings.
NHL Predictions with Calgary Flames vs Los Angeles Kings
San Jose Sharks vs New York Islanders
Head-to-Head: Sharks 0 – 0 Islanders
Eight losses in a row. That is where the New York Islanders stand on their current losing streak. They’ll be playing at home tonight where they are currently 0-4. To say that this season hasn’t gone as expected is a massive understatement. Their goal differential, in only 17 games, is already at a minus 20 and the leading scorer on their team, Brock Nelson, has only 11 points. That’s the main issue with this team: they just can’t score. They are averaging an atrocious 1.88 goals per game, good for 31st in the league.
The San Jose Sharks, who sit at 23rd in the league in goals per game with 2.73, can’t outscore many teams either. The fact that they are only 23rd in the league, and still almost a full goal per game ahead of the Islanders, shows just how far back the Islanders truly are.
The Sharks do have a couple of strong indicators that could represent trouble for New York though. For starters, James Reimer has been excellent this year. He’s averaging only a 2.05 goals-against average and has a stellar .934 save percentage. According to Money Puck, he’s top 10 among starters in several advanced metrics. Reimer is a big reason why the Sharks are seventh-best in the league with an average of only 2.68 goals against per game. That’s going to be tough for a low-scoring Islander team to crack.
In the end, the Sharks have a winning record on the road, and the Islanders have yet to win a game at home. Until the Islanders prove otherwise, the wise bet is on their opponent.
Prediction: Sharks win 3-1
New Jersey Devils vs Minnesota Wild
Head-to-Head: Devils 0 – 1 Wild
The Minnesota Wild just keep rolling along, now in the midst of a four-game winning streak. Over the last couple of years, the Wild have transformed themselves into a team that is capable of exhibiting a high-flying offence. At the forefront of that is Kirill Kaprizov. During this win streak, the 24-year-old winger has seven points. When he is on the ice, the Wild dominate the pace of play which is directly translating to wins. Seriously, who would have guessed that the Wild would be leading the league in goals scored right now? That level of offence is why they sit atop the Central Division.
The Wild will welcome the New Jersey Devils into town this evening. These two teams met in New Jersey just last week in a game where the Wild skated off with a 3-2 win in a shootout. The Devils actually controlled large portions of that game and staged a third-period comeback to force the game into extra time.
This game doesn’t seem like it will be quite as close as that one. The Devils are fresh off of a big loss to the San Jose Sharks and they will face a Wild team that is very good at home with an 8-2 record. The Devils, on the other hand, aren’t quite as good on the road with a less than stellar 3-3-2 record. There have also been some challenges as of late with some of their youth, including Ty Smith who is in the midst of a pretty severe sophomore slump.
Prediction: Wild win 5-2
Boston Bruins vs Nashville Predators
Head-to-Head: Bruins 0 – 0 Predators
The Boston Bruins will once again be without Brad Marchand who is in the middle of serving a suspension for a slew foot. That seemed to hurt the Bruins on Tuesday night, as they lost to the Detroit Red Wings despite outshooting them 42-16. That missing offensive piece might just hurt them tonight against the Nashville Predators, who are coming off of a huge 6-0 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
In that game, Predators’ star Filip Forsberg scored four goals, bringing his season total to 10 goals in 13 games played. He now has eight points in Nashville’s last four games. That could bode well against a Boston team with two goalies who have both surrendered more goals than expected this season, according to Money Puck.
Both of these teams have similar records, goal differentials, powerplay percentages, as well as overall offensive and defensive output. The Predators have an edge in goal with Juuse Saros but the Bruins have the superior penalty kill. All of that seems to indicate a close matchup, which gives the home team with the better netminder an edge.
Prediction: Predators win 3-2 (OT)
Columbus Blue Jackets vs Dallas Stars
Head-to-Head: Blue Jackets 1 – 0 Stars
The last time these two teams met, in late October, the Columbus Blue Jackets soundly defeated the Dallas Stars 4-1. The Stars, at that point, were still in their inconsistent start to the season. Flash forward a month and it looks like the Blue Jackets will be playing an entirely different team.
The Stars have now won five games in a row. Their most recent victory came against the excellent – albeit depleted – Carolina Hurricanes. During this hot stretch, Dallas has shown an ability to shut down the dynamic offence of Carolina, but also the Edmonton Oilers, Colorado Avalanche, and St. Louis Blues. In each of those four wins, their opponents were only capable of mustering a single goal. Their defensive chops at this moment in time are right up there with the Calgary Flames at the top of the NHL.
Surprisingly, the Blue Jackets’ offence has been more than fine this year. They are averaging 3.25 goals per game, which is the seventh-best in the league. Unfortunately, even at that rate, it’s hard to have faith in them performing any better against the Stars than the offensive juggernauts mentioned above. The Stars are also at home where they are a stellar 7-2-1.
Prediction: Stars win 3-0
Calgary Flames vs Los Angeles Kings
Head-to-Head: Flames 0 – 0 Kings
More than a few people have had their eye on the Calgary Flames, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Has their defence under Darryl Sutter truly been as good as it appears, or was it an unsustainable start destined to collapse? Well, the Flames are now 22 games into their season and their defence looks like it is actually improving with each game.
To date, the Flames are the fourth-best team in terms of shots against per game. That’s resulting in the fourth-best expected goals percentage in the league at 55.21%. This stifling, Sutter-style hockey system has been good enough to earn their team a whopping seven shutouts on the season. That’s nearly a third of their games where their opponent hasn’t hit the back of the net. Seriously impressive.
That’s the challenge that awaits the Los Angeles Kings. And it will be a challenge, undoubtedly, as the Kings are 25th in the league in the league in terms of goals per game, at 2.67. The Kings have also lost six of their last seven, scoring more than two goals in only two of those seven games.
Overall, there’s just not much reason to bet against Calgary here. Even the typical road disadvantage doesn’t apply, as the Flames are 9-2-2 away from the Saddledome this season. Expect another shutdown Flames performance as Sutter faces his former team.
Prediction: Flames win 4-0