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 Vegas Golden Knights vs Tampa Bay Lightning.
NHL Predictions with Vegas Golden Knights vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Edmonton Oilers vs Montreal Canadiens
Head-to-Head: Oilers 0 – 0 Canadiens
This is the first meeting between these two clubs. While there may be nothing more healing than the Oilers playing against the hapless Habs, nothing is guaranteed. After losing seven straight, the Oilers needed to cap that well and they did by taking three consecutive games. This will be the debut of the newest and most controversial Oiler in Evander Kane. We will get a glimpse at what he can do to help the Oilers get back on track. While the powerful Oilers can score at 3.21 goals per game clip, they lack with a defence ranked 23rd by allowing 3.33 goals a game. Will Kane dominate? Will Kane behave (off the ice) is a better question?
The Habs are simply a team in disarray. They are last in goals scored (2.21 per game), and in goals allowed (3.79). With stats like that your only hope is to fold and hope the lottery balls fall in your favour. They are leading in the Wright sweepstakes but just by one point ahead of the also hapless Arizona Coyotes. The Habs might as well show up, I mean they want to get paid. But beyond that, this game should be a cakewalk for Connor McDavid/Leon Draisaitl who will be licking their chops.
Prediction: Oilers win easily 6-2
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Detroit Red Wings
Head-to-Head: Maple Leafs 1 – 0 Red Wings
This is the second meeting of these two Atlantic Division foes. That first game took place on October 30, 2021. The Maple Leafs seem to be getting stronger as the season progresses. They are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and forward Mitch Marner is really finding his game. He has four goals, three assists in his last five games. To hold off the Maple Leafs you must stay out of the penalty box. They are first in the NHL with an amazing 30.6 percent power play. They are pretty effective on the penalty kill as well with a 84.3 rate of success. So, how do you beat the Leafs? Good question.
The Red Wings have a hot player on their squad in Tyler Bertuzzi who has three goals and seven assists in his last five contests. He is having one heck of a season with 20 goals, 18 assists in 35 games. Now if the Red Wings could clone him they may have a shot at beating the Cup-bound Maple Leafs. The Wings are 3-4-3 in their last 10 games. The only hope the Red Wings may have is they are 13-7-3 at home. Good thing because their road record is a dismal 5-12-3.
Prediction: Maple Leafs win 4-2
New Jersey Devils vs Carolina Hurricanes
Head-to-Head: Devils 1 – 0 Hurricanes
These teams played on January 22, 2022, with the Devils coming out ahead 7-4. New Jersey is on a three-game losing streak and wants to put an end to that. The thing is, this team is as unpredictable as the weather. They are not a good road team with just a 5-12-2 record this season. Young Jack Hughes has really picked up his game and now has 25 points (11-G, 14-A) in 25 games. Jesper Bratt is leading the team in scoring with 39 points (14-G, 25-A) in 39 games. Now if the Devils can find some consistency, they may have a chance at moving up into playoff contention. Doesn’t look like that will happen though.
The Hurricanes are sporting the best defence in the NHL this season. They only allow 2.4 goals a game, so that makes it difficult, if not impossible to stay with them in a game. Part of that success belongs to Frederik Andersen who possesses a 23-6 record. His sparkling .928 save percentage and 2.05 goals-against-average has other teams envious. Their offence isn’t bad either. Sebastian Aho leads the ‘Canes in scoring with 19 goals, 25 assists in just 37 games.
Prediction: Hurricanes win 5-1
Buffalo Sabres vs Arizona Coyotes
Head-to-Head: Sabres 1 – 0 Coyotes
Two struggling teams, so who will struggle less? The Sabres are sixth in the Metropolitan Division and going nowhere fast. Tage Thompson and Rasmus Dahlin lead the team in scoring with 28 points each. The Buffalo team has really struggled and hasn’t been involved in the postseason since 2011. It doesn’t appear that will change this season.
The Coyotes are right on course to attempt to be lucky enough to win the Wright sweepstakes. They are right up on Montreal for that honour. While the team seems to have a place to play next season, it’s not ideal with only 5,000 seats. The way they are playing maybe that’s a good thing.
Prediction: Sabres win 2-1
Vancouver Canucks vs Calgary Flames
Head-to-Head: Canucks 0 – 0 Flames
This is the first meeting of these two Pacific Division clubs. The Canucks have been playing much better hockey under new head coach Bruce Boudreau who has an impressive 11-4-3 record. No doubt with a better start to the season the Canucks would be right in the mix for a playoff berth. They still could be, but it means they must really continue their winning ways with Boudreau. J.T. Miller is leading the offence admirably with 15 goals, 29 assists in 41 games. Yet, there are rumours that he will be traded. Doesn’t make any sense.
The Flames are in the mix for a wild card spot but need to play better. They are 4-6 in their last 10 games. The Flames are led by a really rejuvenated Johnny Gaudreau who has 16 goals, 35 assists in just 39 games. Throw in Matthew Tkachuk who also is hot with 20 goals, 24 assists and you have one dynamic duo. Now, if the Flames can make a run in the last half of the season, they could be sitting pretty.
Prediction: Flames win it, 5-4 (Gaudreau with a hat trick)
Vegas Golden Knights vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Head-to-Head: Golden Knights 0 – 1 Lightning
This is our MUST WATCH TV featured game.
What could very well be a Stanley Cup matchup between these two teams, don’t miss this action! The Golden Knights lead the Pacific Division with 53 points and are always a tough opponent. Just for them to still be in the lead after having two of their stars in Mark Stone (18 games) and Max Pacioretty (26 games) being out with injuries. Vegas is an accomplished road team with a 12-6-1 record, so keep that in mind. Everyone is awaiting the debut of Jack Eichel, but the team needs to shed some cap space to make that happen. They may need to trade Reilly Smith ($5M) to make that happen. With Eichel, they become a larger threat.
The Lightning are 8-2 in their last 10 games, trailing the front running Florida Panthers by just two points. Steven Stamkos leads the Bolts with 20 goals, 31 assists in 43 games. Never count out the back-to-back Cup champs. They are powerful, disciplined and know what it takes to win it all. Andrei Vasilevskiy is again showing he can carry the team in the net. He has an amazing 35-14-3 record. His .917 save percentage and 2.56 goals-against-average show he’s in a class of his own.
Prediction: The Lightning win 5-3