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 Winnipeg Jets vs Boston Bruins.
NHL Predictions With Winnipeg Jets vs Boston Bruins
Philadelphia Flyers vs Buffalo Sabres
Head-to-Head: Flyers 0 – 0 Sabres
In what both squads consider a disappointing season, the Flyers and Sabres meet up this weekend for the first time. Both sit well beneath the .500 mark, though Philadelphia had loftier goals at season’s start. Buffalo, on the other hand, remains right where everyone anticipated they’d be.
Alex Tuch started his Sabres career strong, with seven points in his first seven games in a Buffalo sweater. The opposing Flyers are desperate for any signs of life. They recorded no wins yet in 2022 entering their Friday night game against the Blue Jackets. Let’s not sugar-coat it; this is a cellar-dweller matchup, but Buffalo might have the edge.
Prediction: Sabres win 4-3 OT
Ottawa Senators vs Washington Capitals
Head-to-Head: Senators 0 – 1 Capitals
In the last matchup, the Capitals won a wide-open affair by a 7-5 score. This weekend’s game is just the Senators‘ sixth since the Christmas break due to COVID postponements. They sit second-to-last in the Eastern Conference, while Washington floats in the top five.
Anytime the Caps come up, so does Alexander Ovechkin and the quest for the all-time goal-scoring record. As he already approaches the 30-goal plateau just halfway through the season, it seems a foregone conclusion that Ovi will catch and pass Jaromir Jagr for third all-time this season. Can the 36-year-old muster another ~125 after that to reach Wayne Gretzky? Time will tell.
One thing is certain though. If Washington can maintain a lead on Ottawa, Ovi will be firing at the empty net for the last couple minutes of regulation. An Ovechkin goal might be more likely than a Senators victory in this game (though both could happen…).
Prediction: Capitals win 3-1
Carolina Hurricanes vs New Jersey Devils
Head-to-Head: Hurricanes 0 – 0 Devils
The Hurricanes just keep winning, and recently by some aggressive margins. In their nine-game span from December 16 to January 18, they went 7-1-1 with at least three goals in all but one game. Actually, in the seven wins, they potted between four and seven goals. Plus, Frederik Andersen continues posting Vezina-calibre numbers with a .930 save percentage and 20-6-0 record entering Friday.
The Devils haven’t had nearly the same trajectory. In their last five, New Jersey went 1-4-0 including regulation losses to the Blue Jackets, Coyotes and Islanders (all teams with sub-.500 records). Granted the Devils truly exist in the same group of sub-par clubs currently, but their recent stretch doesn’t inspire optimism against the juggernaut ‘Canes club. The only advantage they have? Carolina will be on the back end of a back-to-back. Is that enough to tip the scales? Probably not.
Prediction: Hurricanes win 4-1
Arizona Coyotes vs New York Rangers
Head-to-Head: Coyotes 0 – 1 Rangers
Well, here’s as close as it gets to a “David and Goliath” matchup in the modern NHL. The Rangers sit atop the Metropolitan division, though Carolina possesses games in hand that could change things. Adam Fox keeps building on last year’s Norris-winning campaign, with over a point-per-game in over 40 games this season.
Then, there’s the Arizona Coyotes. Resting dead-last in the Western Conference, the Yotes already lay a whopping 12 points behind the next-worst team in their division. Long-story-short, they’ll be right in the mix for the first overall pick in this summer’s draft. With a -55 goals differential in 38 games entering Friday, it’s safe to sleep on Arizona nowadays.
Prediction: Rangers win 3-0
Montreal Canadiens vs Colorado Avalanche
Head-to-Head: Canadiens 0 – 1 Avalanche
I spoke too soon about “David and Goliath”, as this matchup is truly as wide as the gap gets in hockey today. Somehow, the Canadiens went from the Stanley Cup Finals a season ago, to a league-worst 8-25-5 record through their first 38 games this year. Though “somehow” can easily be deciphered as “Carey Price and Shea Weber went away”. Still, the fall from grace is almost unfathomable.
Meanwhile, the Avalanche continue displaying utter dominance against the entire league. They own the league’s best scoring offence, with 4.19 goals per game entering play Thursday night. Colorado also possesses a top-10 powerplay with tremendous talent throughout their lineup. It’s baffling that Nazem Kadri quietly leads this team in points and ranks in the top-five scorers league-wide, considering he plays on the second line. Plus, Pavel Francouz finally got healthy and just posted a shutout against the Ducks. This team is a nightmare to play against.
Prediction: Avalanche win 6-1
Winnipeg Jets vs Boston Bruins
Head-to-Head: Jets 0 – 0 Bruins
Outside of a forgettable 7-1 drubbing from the Hurricanes on Tuesday, the Bruins have been playing some of their best hockey all season as of late. They posted five consecutive wins prior to the Hurricanes bout, and look to continue that momentum. How much recently re-signed goaltender Tuukka Rask actually impacts their team remains to be seen. He looked fine in a 3-2 win over the Flyers in his first game back. He did not look find against Carolina, giving up five goals in the first before getting pulled.
The Jets are fighting for some consistency, with an equal number of wins and losses over the last few weeks. They seem to bounce back and forth from the win column to the loss column every other night. That pace changed their postseason outlook significantly, falling to fifth in the Central Division. That spot resides four points behind the last Wild Card spot in the West and a hefty 11 points back of the top three divisional seats. Where the teams look alike is that they both sit right on the playoff bubble.
Boston’s recent performance built a five-point buffer between themselves and the ninth-place Red Wings, along with four extra games the Bruins hold in hand. The separation between playoff and non-playoff teams out East is significant; Boston resides in that last Wild Card spot, and after Detroit, everyone else ranks 11 or more points behind the Bruins. So, even though it’s technically a “bubble” spot for Boston, the Jets swim in much hotter water. They may only be four points behind the last Wild Card spot (with five games in hand, too), but there are another four squads right with them jockeying for a postseason berth. Both teams have something to play for, but the Jets should be much more desperate.
Prediction: Jets win 5-2
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