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NHL Predictions: December 19 Including Washington Capitals vs LA Kings

Washington Capitals vs LA Kings

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 Washington Capitals vs LA Kings. 

NHL Predictions With Washington Capitals vs LA Kings

Washington Capitals vs LA Kings

Head-to-Head: Capitals 1-0 Kings

After a win over the Winnipeg Jets with a depleted roster, the Capitals look to defeat the LA Kings. The Capitals have definitely had a great season being a juggernaut of the Metropolitan division. We’ve all been lucky enough to witness the greatness of the Great Eight this season. Ovechkin has been doing things he’s never had to do possibly because of the loss of Nicholas Backstrom but boy is it scary. The Capitals have had the next-man-up mentality with them getting scoring from their bottom six in times of need.

Unlike the Capitals, the Kings have been above average defensively giving up many high event chances of quality and quantity. Luckily for the Kings though, Jonathan Quick has returned to Vezina form, single-handily winning games for his team. Once again unlike the Capitals, the Kings are not getting a single ounce of luck in their ability to put the puck in the back of the net. According to Jfreshs’ model, the Kings should have 13 more goals this season.

Washington is very defensively sound only giving up primary chances from the point. In addition to their solid defence, their ability to finish chances that you wouldn’t expect to go in is insane. They’ve scored a whopping 11 goals above expected which is second behind the Avalanche. Is there a chance we see some regression? For sure. Will we see regression? With this consistent contender of a Capitals team, likely not.

Prediction: Capitals win 2-0

Pittsburgh Penguins vs New Jersey Devils

Head-to-Head: Penguins 0-1 Devils

Currently streaking, the Penguins are facing off against a struggling young Devils team who have lost four of their last five. Pittsburgh has been arguably one of the top teams in December with six wins and one loss. The Devils on the other hand have been one of the worst in December with one win and seven losses. The Devils have been surprisingly one of the best defensive teams in the league despite allowing many high danger chances against. One of the Devil’s highly underrated pairings is Jonas Seigenthaler and Damon Severson. That pair is great at suppressing chances and moving the puck on the back end.

Just like the Penguins, the Devils have had no puck luck in addition to their finishing ability which has resulted in them being a -12 in goals scored above expected. Luckily for the Penguins, they’ve had Tristan Jarry to bail them out in their lack of offensive finishing whereas the Devils have not had good consistent goaltending. According to Jfresh, New Jersey has the fifth-worst starting goalie in the league which isn’t ideal.

The Penguins offence has been absolutely dominating recently. With Tristan Jarry at the top of his game, there aren’t many teams going to beat them right now.  The only area the Devils very briefly outperform is the powerplay, not by much. This should be a solid win for the Penguins as they look to extend their streak to seven games.

Prediction: Penguins win 4-1

Vegas Golden Knights vs New York Islanders

Head-to-Head: Golden Knights 0 – 1 Islanders

The Vegas Golden Knights have been enjoying quite the successful road trip. As the Knights venture through the North Eastern United States, they’ve rattled off three straight wins against the Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils, and New York Rangers. Next up is an Islanders team that, isn’t quite where they’d like to be, but is trending towards the peskily successful team we’ve come to know these last couple of years.

The Golden Knights have had no trouble scoring goals this year, as evidenced by their fourth-ranked goals-for-per-game mark of 3.50. But they weren’t able to find the back of the net in a 2-0 loss the first time these clubs met back in October. Granted, Vegas was dealing with injuries to Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone at the time. With those two back and healthy, the Knights have been a much better team.

Pacioretty leads the way on offence with seven points and five goals in the last five games.

The Islanders on the other hand will be out with their top scorer, Mathew Barzal, who is sidelined due to Covid-Protocols. The Islanders will rely heavily on Oliver Wahlstrom to lead the way. Wahlstrom was on a little bit of a tear with three goals and five assists in five games before being held off the scoresheet in his last two games.

The Knights have had trouble shutting down opponents’ offences, sporting a pedestrian, 20th ranked goals-against of 3.03.

Will this game be decided by New York’s stout defence, or will Vegas use their potent attack to drive up the score? The road schedule is probably going to catch up to Vegas in this win. With it being their fourth game in six nights, AND it being an afternoon start, we like the chances of this grimy Islanders squad, even without Barzal.

Prediction: Islanders win 3-2

St Louis Blues vs Winnipeg Jets

Head-to-Head: Blues 1 – 0 Jets

As Alex Slemp writes not much on the docket today with Covid wreaking havoc in the NHL. But we should be glad we get some hockey anyways!

The Blues and Jets last met on November 9th, and the Blues walked away with a hard-fought 3-2 win. The Jets are struggling and they go up against a Blues team that has been rolling.

For one, St. Louis blows the Jets away in special teams. The Blues are ranked third and eighth respectively in power play and penalty kill, opposed to the Jets’ 12th and 31st.

The Jets have also been getting shoddy goaltending from Connor Hellebuyck. In his last five starts, Helleybuyck has one shutout sandwiched between two other starts where he gave up a combined seven goals. Consistency has just been failing the Jets netminder this season.

The Blues on the other hand have been getting superb goaltending from the likes of one Charlie Lindgren. Lindgren, who has filled in admirably while Jordan Binnington has been sideline with Covid, probably won’t get the start in this one, as Binnington is back with the club. Coach Craig Berube has said Binnington will indeed dress, but may not start as he’s just come back from Covid.

Prediction: Blues win 5-2

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