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 Carolina Hurricanes.
NHL Predictions with Calgary Flames vs Carolina Hurricanes
Calgary Flames vs Carolina Hurricanes
Head-to-Head: Flames 0 – 1 Hurricanes
The last meeting between these two teams was on December 9th. The Hurricanes beat the Flames in Calgary 2-1 in overtime off the stick of Sebastian Aho.
The Flames are coming off consecutive losses in Florida where they allowed 10 goals against and scored only three. They lost to the Panthers earlier this week and fell to the Lightning last night. Unfortunately, things clearly aren’t getting any easier. However, despite a pair of tough games, the Flames can confidently turn to Jacob Markstrom who is well-rested after giving way to Daniel Vladar yesterday. Markstrom owns a 12-7-5 record this season with a 2.15 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage. Upfront, Johnny Gaudreau is the hottest Flame with eight points in his last five games.
The Hurricanes currently sit atop the National Hockey League in winning percentage with 23 wins in 31 games after having won eight of their last nine. Leading the way, as he has all season long, is Sebastian Aho. He has 34 points in 28 games and 14 points in his last seven. One player who hasn’t been as consistent but has come on of late is Jesperi Kotkaniemi. He has the longest active point streak on the Hurricanes with five games, a span in which he has seven points. Guarding the Canes cage is expected to be Frederik Andersen, who owns a 10-3-2 lifetime record against the Flames.
Prediction: Hurricanes win 3-2 in OT
Washington Capitals vs St. Louis Blues
Head-to-Head: Capitals 0 – 0 Blues
This is the first matchup of the season between two of the best teams in their respective conferences. Washington in 6-2-2 in their last 10 games. St. Louis is 7-2-1.
The Capitals come into this tilt with a bit of uncertainty in their lineup. Nicklas Backstrom and ex-Blue T.J. Oshie are recovering from a non-Covid-related illness while Dmitry Orlov is coming off an injury. All three players practiced yesterday and could return to action tonight. What is certain for the Caps is what to expect from Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and John Carlson. Ovechkin’s production hasn’t slowed. He has 50 points in 34 games this season – just three shy of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl for the league lead. Ovi has 18 goals in 20 career games against the Blues. Kuznetsov joins his linemate as the only Capitals above a point-per-game. He sits at 33 points in 31 games and has five points in his last five. Last but not least, Carlson continues to be a rock on the back end. He has 32 points in 34 games, which ranks him third among defencemen.
The Blues lineup tonight will be missing a key piece. Vladimir Tarasenko was one of three Blues that entered Covid protocols yesterday. He currently leads his team in points with 34 in 34 games. He along with Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas have been their best line of late, accumulating 16 points between them over the past three games. They will be joined tonight by the newly returning Brayden Schenn, who had two points in a 5-3 loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins last game. Backstopping St. Louis tonight will likely be Jordan Binnington. The Capitals are the only team in which Binnington has played but does not have a win against.
Prediction: Blues win 4-3 in OT
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