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 Los Angeles Kings vs Florida Panthers.
NHL Predictions: December 16th with Los Angeles Kings vs Florida Panthers
Ottawa Senators vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Head-to-Head: Senators 1 – 1 Lightning
The Ottawa Senators have actually exploded in their last pair of games. Most recently, they walloped the Florida Panthers to the tune of an 8-2 score, and just prior to that they actually beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0. These two teams are right back at it, this time in Florida, with the Senators having a chance to make a legitimate statement. Drake Batherson has simply been excellent as of late, with 11 points in his last five. Brady Tkachuk has also been sensational, with seven goals in his last five, including a hat trick in the game against the Lightning.
The Lightning continue to be one of the league’s best teams, with a 7-2-1 record in their last 10. They are now a legitimate threat to overtake first place in the Atlantic within a matter of a game or two.
Goals probably remain the theme in tonight’s contest, but the Lightning are too good to lose two in a row to the Senators.
Prediction: Lightning win 6-4
Vegas Golden Knights vs New Jersey Devils
Head-to-Head: Golden Knights 0 – 0 Devils
Things have really hit the skids in New Jersey for the Devils. They’ve now lost three in a row, including a 6-1 loss to the lowly Philadelphia Flyers, and the distinction of giving the New York Islanders their first home win in eight attempts this season. They sit second-last in the Metropolitan and could drop into last place by the new year at this current rate.
That doesn’t bode well for this matchup against the Vegas Golden Knights. After a slower start to the season and injuries galore, the Knights are starting to find some traction. They are on a two-game winning streak, are 6-4 in their last 10, and Mark Stone has really found his stride as of late with 10 points in his last five games.
There’s little reason to doubt that the Knights will be able to get it done on the road.
Prediction: Knights win 3-0
Detroit Red Wings vs Carolina Hurricanes
Head-to-Head: Red Wings 0 – 0 Hurricanes
The Carolina Hurricanes haven’t been quite as good as of late, with only a 5-5 record in their last 10. That’s partly to blame on covid, which has started to claim valuable members of their roster. They are holding their own despite the losses, which says a lot about their depth, but it’s made them a bit more vulnerable in the process. Look no further than their loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night.
That gives a bit more promise for a Detroit Red Wings team that just isn’t quite on the Hurricanes’ level. That isn’t meant to completely dismiss the Red Wings, who are holding their own with a 14-12-3 record, which is a decent bit better than what most had expected this year. Still, their goal differential remains a ghastly -17, and their record does look to be inflated by a 10-3-2 mark at home, compared to a lacking 4-9-1 on the road.
That’s exactly where the Red Wings find themselves this evening, as they head to Carolina for the game. That’s enough to give even a weakened Hurricanes’ roster the edge.
Prediction: Hurricanes win 4-2
Philadelphia Flyers vs Montreal Canadiens
Head-to-Head: Flyers 0 – 0 Canadiens
This is a battle of the bottom feeders, but even to that degree, this isn’t a game to overthink. The Flyers aren’t that great this year with only an 11-12-4 record, but that’s a record that the Montreal Canadiens can only dream of. They only have six wins on the season, for a bowling shoe ugly 6-21-3 mark.
Add into the mix that the Flyers have won three in a row, while the Canadiens have lost four, and this result looks pretty close to obvious.
Prediction: Flyers win 2-0
Los Angeles Kings vs Florida Panthers
Head-to-Head: Kings 0 – 0 Panthers
On paper, the Florida Panthers look like the better bet here. Despite losing two in a row, they have a stellar 18-6-4 record, a stellar +20 goal differential, and the third most goals scored in the league. The complexity comes in Wednesday afternoon’s news when the team announced that four players had entered covid protocol. There’s a possibility that more could join them as well.
Florida Panthers announce that Sam Bennett, Radko Gudas, Ryan Lomberg, Brandon Montour, Carter Verhaeghe and one member of the team’s travel party have entered the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols: https://t.co/oduFnFVhA3 pic.twitter.com/Z27HW7594I
— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) December 15, 2021
Make no mistake about it, the Panthers will feel that loss in some form or another.
That could crack open an opportunity for the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings aren’t quite the team that the Panthers are, but they have surprised a few folks this year with a better than expected 12-10-5 record. With their win against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night, they’ve also demonstrated an ability to win against powerful teams.
Despite the Panther’s covid issue, and the Kings’ better-than-expected play, there is still a stat that is impossible to ignore. The Panthers are an incredible 14-2 at home. That’s too good of a record to doubt, so although the Kings will likely keep it close and maybe even force it to extra time, the Panthers are still likely to find a way to win.
Prediction: Panthers win 4-3 (OT)
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