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 Minnesota Wild vs New York Islanders.
NHL Predictions: January 30th including Minnesota Wild vs New York Islanders
Columbus Blue Jackets vs Montreal Canadiens
Head-to-Head: Blue Jackets 0-0 Canadiens
The first game in this lineup is one of two struggling teams, albeit to drastically different levels. The Columbus Blue Jackets have been the epitome of inconsistency this season. And on the other end of the ice, the Canadiens have been far more consistent, but that has been consistently terrible.
The Canadiens had some key losses prior to the season, with Carey Price and Shea Weber out. It sounds obvious to anyone that these are BIG losses, but few thought it would be this impactful. To show this impact, between the power play, penalty kill, faceoff percentage, GF/GP, and GA/GP, the highest Montreal ranks in those is 26th in the league.
As for Columbus, they have shown glimpses of promise and productive play this season. These, however, have been sprinkled in between very bad performances like giving up 62 shots to the Calgary Flames last week. Expect to see Elvis Merzlikins in the net again, but the chances of him facing that many shots again are slim to none.
Prediction: Blue Jackets win 5-2
Boston Bruins vs Dallas Stars
Head-to-Head: Bruins 1-0 Stars
This matchup is undeniably the most even of the day. While their records this season are significantly different, the Stars have enough star power to keep pace with the Bruins.
There are plenty of players to keep an eye on in this one, but the one that has come with the most surprise this season is Joe Pavelski. Pavelski is seeing a renaissance season with the Stars, with 10 points in the last five games and 48 points in 41 games this season. If Pavelski can continue this, and the Stars defence can help out their goalies at all, this could make for a very tight game.
Prediction: Stars win 4-3
Buffalo Sabres vs Colorado Avalanche
Head-to-Head: Sabres 0-0 Avalanche
This game is quite honestly the easiest one to predict on the day. Buffalo is on the latter half of a back-to-back and the Avalanche are rested and will be looking to extend their winning streak into double digits.
Buffalo has made massive strides this season, but that still doesn’t look to be enough to pull this one off. It would be less than surprising to see Tage Thompson get on the score sheet in this one. Outside of that, this game shouldn’t bring much to cheer for in Buffalo.
For Colorado, so long as they can suppress high-quality scoring chances, there is really no reason they won’t extend their winning streak to 10 games. With Darcy Kuemper starting to look as quality as was expected of him, this Avalanche team is a serious Stanley Cup contender.
Prediction: Avalanche win 6-2
Minnesota Wild vs New York Islanders
Head-to-Head: Wild 1-0 Islanders
In the first meeting of the season, Minnesota came away with a solid 5-2 win over the Islanders. Despite that, the Islanders look like a very different team at this point, and this could be a bit of a banana peel-style game for the Wild if they don’t come out strong.
Both of these teams have been heading in the right direction as of late. For the Islanders, they had a poor start to the season, but have seemingly found their footing. They have gone 7-3-0 in their last 10, helping them move to 15-15-6 on the season. The play of goaltender Ilya Sorokin and Mathew Barzal are large factors in their winning ways of late.
For the Wild, expect to see the usual suspects on the score sheet. Young superstar Kirill Kaprizov has lit up the league this season and looks to be a bonafide elite forward. Expect to see him have his usual impact.
Prediction: Wild win 4-2