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 Toronto Maple Leafs vs New York Rangers.
NHL Predictions Featuring Toronto Maple Leafs vs New York Rangers
Arizona Coyotes vs New Jersey Devils
Head-to-Head: Coyotes 0-0 Devils
It’s the first meeting of the season between two teams that have been struggling the last couple of seasons. Arizona did beat the Montreal Canadiens, 5-2, on Monday. However, they may be the big loser in having fewer ping pong balls in the Shane Wright sweepstakes. Arizona’s last two wins have come against Canadian squads in the Maple Leafs and the Habs. Clayton Keller leads the team in goals with 14 while trade candidate Phil Kessel is on the top in assists with 21.
New Jersey hasn’t played since January 13, so they should be ready to go. However, it’s always a worry if they’ll be too rusty after the long layoff. Jesper Bratt is pacing the Devils in goals (10) and assists (22). Mackenzie Blackwood has struggled with a .898 save percentage and 3.24 goals-against average.
Getting the lead early will be critical for both teams. New Jersey does have three wins in the last four meetings.
Prediction: Devils win 4-2
Toronto Maple Leafs vs New York Rangers
Head-to-Head: Maple Leafs 1-1 Rangers
Our featured matchup has two of the “Original Six” clubs and both are fairly similar to each other. The clubs have traded 2-1 wins in the first two matchups with the rubber game coming at Madison Square Garden. The Leafs have been inconsistent as of late with key victories over the Vegas Golden Knights and St. Louis Blues. However, Toronto has also lost to Arizona in the last week. There are some worries that Jack Campbell could be regressing, but he is capable of a bounce-back game. Auston Matthews leads the Leafs in goals with 25 while Morgan Reilly has 27 assists.
The Rangers have won two straight after a couple of setbacks on their Western road trip. New York has gotten solid net play from Igor Shesterkin with a 1.99 goals-against-average and .939 save percentage. Chris Kreider has been the Blueshirts top goal-scorer with 24 this season while fellow All-Star Adam Fox has 34 assists. New York leads the Metropolitan Division and is three points off the pace for being the best team in the league.
The under could be an enticing play since they’ve only managed three goals in the previous two games. The Rangers could be a nice little upset pick since some places have been giving them +120 in some books.
Prediction: Rangers win 3-1
Anaheim Ducks vs Colorado Avalanche
Head-to-Head: Ducks 0-2 Avalanche
It’s the last of three meetings this season between the two Western Conference standouts. Colorado was one of the main contenders, but Anaheim has been a bit of a surprise. The Ducks have come back to earth, but still, hold one of the automatic Stanley Cup Playoff spots in the Pacific Division. Troy Terry made the All-Star Game and has 22 goals while Ryan Getzlaf has turned back the clock with 22 assists.
Colorado is in the Stanley Cup or bust mode right now. Mikko Rantanen leads in goals while Nazem Kadri, who also made it in, has 35 goals and 49 points. Darcy Kuemper did leave the last game and Pavel Francouz likely gets the start. The Avalanche still holds first place in the Central Division despite all the injuries they’ve dealt with this season. Colorado’s offence is prolific with 153 goals, which is the second-best in the league.
The Avs have found ways to win despite the odds and won the last six against the Ducks.
Prediction: Avalanche wins 4-2