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 Colorado Avalanche vs Vegas Golden Knights.
NHL Predictions: February 16th Including Colorado Avalanche vs Vegas Golden Knights
Minnesota Wild vs Winnipeg Jets
Head-to-Head: Wild 2-1 Jets
The season series comes to a close for these Central Division rivals. The Minnesota Wild remain firmly entrenched in the top three of the Central and are coming in hot at 8-1-1 in their last 10. The Winnipeg Jets, however, find themselves losing ground in the Wild Card race. They are a lacklustre 3-5-2 in their last 10, sit seven points out of a playoff spot, and have at least four teams to pass if they want to get there.
To put it simply, the Jets need to start winning… now. They’ll be in tough tonight against the Wild and their dynamic offence.
One player that will be extremely challenging for the Jets to keep quiet is Kirill Kaprizov. No surprise, considering how good Kaprizov has been all season long. With 57 points on the season in only 43 games played, he is only heating up. And seven of those points have come in his last five games. He has 23 shots in those five games alone.
The Jets seriously need a win, but the Wild have been the better team all year and their best player is money right now. Minnesota gets its 15th road win of the season tonight.
Prediction: Wild win 4-2
Florida Panthers vs Carolina Hurricanes
Head-to-Head: Panthers 2-0 Hurricanes
Two of the best teams in the East face off in the first of two premiere matchups this evening. You don’t have to tell the Carolina Hurricanes that the Florida Panthers are a force, they know. The Panthers have beaten them in each of their last two meetings.
If there has been one small blemish in Florida’s record, it’s been their 9-7-5 record on the road. It pales in comparison to their 23-3 home record and could be a difference maker here. The Hurricanes are very good when they have the matchup advantage, boasting a 16-4-1 record in Raleigh.
This will also be a contest between two of the league’s best goalies. According to MoneyPuck, Frederik Andersen sits first in the league in terms of goals saved above expected with 25, while Sergei Bobrovsky is third with 21.8. Andersen has a record of 25-7-1 with a save percentage of .929, Bobrovsky counters with a 23-4-3 record of his own and a .920 save percentage. These two are are major difference makers for their respective clubs.
A Panther sweep seems unlikely in the season series, even if they have been the better team as of late. The Hurricanes will lean on Andrei Svechnikov (seven points in his last five) for the tight victory.
Prediction: Hurricanes win 3-2 (OT)
Anaheim Ducks vs Calgary Flames
Head-to-Head: Ducks 1-1 Flames
Two Pacific Division rivals clash at a time when points for both of these teams are becoming extremely important. For the Calgary Flames, their continued pursuit to the top of the Pacific looks very real, with a 9-1 record in their last 10 and a recent trade for Tyler Toffoli. This is a team in full stride, going all in. It’s not just about the playoffs, it’s about going winning rounds when they get there, especially with home-ice advantage. A win tonight, on a back-to-back against a division rival would be a boost in that effort.
The Anaheim Ducks have their own points of desperation as they duke it out in the Wild Card. Goaltending has been the Ducks’ strongest part of their game, but an average defence and below-average offence have prevented them from gaining any ground on the teams nipping at their heels. This deficiency in their game is going to expose them against a Flames team that can both score and defend incredibly well.
As of late, Calgary has been much better as well. They have a chance for their seventh straight win, whereas the Ducks are coming off of two losses to the Seattle Kraken and Detroit Red Wings. The Flames should be able to grind out a low-event game.
Prediction: Flames win 3-1
Colorado Avalanche vs Vegas Golden Knights
Head-to-Head: Avalanche 0-1 Golden Knights
The long-awaited debut of Jack Eichel for the Vegas Golden Knights takes place live on the strip against the best team in the league. That’s about as good of a story as you can ask for and tonight will be incredibly exciting for it. Eichel hasn’t played in a game since March 7th, 2021, almost a full year ago. It’ll mark his first game action since neck surgery earlier this season, as many spectators will be wondering how he looks coming out of the controversial procedure.
It’s not all roses, however, as the Golden Knights will be without Mark Stone who went on the long-term injured reserve list this week due to a bad back. That move made the Eichel return possible salary cap wise, and it will undoubtedly alter how this team looks – at least down the stretch. For that reason, the team could take some time to gel, so immediate success in the Eichel era shouldn’t be considered a guarantee.
That’s especially the case considering their first opponent, the Colorado Avalanche. They are the league’s best team and are playing some of their best hockey as of late. They have a 9-0-1 record in their last 10 (prior to their game on February 15th), which has ballooned their overall record to a whopping 34-8-4. Their +59 goal differential is a league-best.
This will be a challenging game for the Golden Knights, even with the Eichel storyline momentum. Vegas forces overtime, but the Avalanche do what they do best – win.
Prediction: Avalanche win 5-4 (OT)