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 Vancouver Canucks vs Washington Capitals.
NHL Predictions Featuring Vancouver Canucks vs Washington Capitals
Vancouver Canucks vs Washington Capitals
Head-to-Head: Canucks 0-0 Capitals
It’s literally the only game in town after the Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets matchup at MTS Centre was postponed. Both teams are coming off back-to-back games but had different fates. Vancouver is coming off a 4-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, N.C. Washington blanked the New York Islanders, 2-0, to snap a three-game losing streak.
The Vancouver Side
The initial bump after Bruce Boudreau‘s hiring has landed in a thud with three straight losses. Frederik Andersen stopped 30 shots and both Vincent Trocheck and Martin Necas got a goal and an assist. Bo Horvat tallied the only Canucks goal and Thatcher Demko made 29 saves in the losing effort.
Demko will get the start with Spencer Martin serving as the backup. Jaroslav Halak is out with COVID and not available or he would have gotten the call. However, Demko will have to go on back-to-back nights against two of the better offences in the league.
Potential trade candidate J.T. Miller leads the team in goals with 11 while Quinn Hughes is tops in assists with 26. Demko has gotten the lion’s share of starts and has 15 wins, .915 save percentage and 2.65 goals-against-average.
Keep an eye on the Canucks’ penalty kill as they are last in the league with a not-so-nice 69.2 kill ratio.
The Washington Side
Washington got a 23-save shutout from Vitek Vanecek and goals from Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson. The Caps held the lead most of the night thanks to the Wilson tally before Ovechkin sealed it with an empty-netter.
Vanecek could get the start as head coach Peter Laviolette may decide to ride the hot hand. However, Ilya Samsonov could get the call considering the fact it’ll be two games in two days. Keep an eye on social media, which usually does a great job of posting starters as soon as they get the information. That can be helpful for daily fantasy play because this is the only game going on.
Ovechkin continues to defy his age with 24 goals and 28 assists this season. Samsonov leads in wins with 13 but would like a better save percentage than the current .903 that he cards. The Russian goalie also only has a 2.78 goals-against-average.
One puzzling thing is the Capitals have a lacklustre power-play unit. Washington is 28th in the league with a 14.7 percent success rate, which is a bit of a shock. The Capitals could get healthy against a struggling Canucks’ penalty kill.
Vancouver is struggling after their surge post coaching change. There’s still no general manager and Jim Rutherford and company are searching for a permanent replacement. The Canucks know they have to start winning again if they want to get back into the race for one of the Western Conference wild card slots.
Washington sits third in the Metropolitan Division but isn’t that far behind the division-leading New York Rangers. The Caps do want to cure some of their special team woes and can against the Canucks.
As always, COVID protocol listings could play a hand in the lineups, so keep an eye on that. Washington should be able to win, but keep an out for any slow starts due to both teams playing the night before.
Prediction: Capitals win 4-2.