NHL Predictions: March 2nd Including St Louis Blues vs New York Rangers

St Louis Blues vs New York Rangers
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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 St. Louis Blues vs Tampa Bay Lightning. 

NHL Predictions Including St Louis Blues vs Tampa Bay Lightning

Buffalo Sabres vs Toronto Maple Leafs

Head-to-Head: Sabres 0-1 Maple Leafs

This one has mismatch written all over it. The Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t been quite as sharp as of late, but they remain one of the league leaders in points, goals scored, and goal differential. That’s a vast difference compared to the Buffalo Sabres who are stuck along the bottom of the league’s standings and who enter tonight’s game on a six-game losing streak.

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If there is any smidgen of hope for the Sabres, it might be the fact that the Detroit Red Wings managed to score seven goals against the Leafs just the other night. Even then, the Red Wings still lost – and gave up a whopping 10 goals in the process – and Detroit is most definitely a superior team to the Sabres.

There just isn’t a lot of hope here for Buffalo. Mitch Marner has an incredible 11 points in his last four games and should be able to pile up a couple of more tonight against the Sabres, who rank 29th in goals against per game.

Prediction: Leafs win 5-1

Los Angeles Kings vs Dallas Stars

Head-to-Head: Kings 1-1 Stars

We’re now in March, and roughly two months remains in the NHL schedule. This is about the time when the games really start to ratchet up in meaning. Tonight’s tilt between the Los Angeles Kings and the Dallas Stars is a great example. Each of these squads currently find themselves locked in the playoff race with two points in the standings representing incredible value. The Stars are just barely clinging onto the second wild card spot, while the Kings continue to try and nestle themselves firmly in the Pacific’s top three. Neither team is any where close to comfortable, at this point.

The Stars represent one of the lowest event teams in the league. Their 151 goals for is quite a bit off the pace from the Western Conference leaders, but their 151 goals against is more or less in line with the likes of the Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild, etc. If their offence can find just a little bit more juice in the tank, it should set them up well for the rest of the season.

The Kings are actually quite a bit similar, with 159 goals for, 153 goals against, and a plus six goal differential overall. Both of these teams are comfortable in close, tight checking games which suggests that this should likely boil down to a one goal decision.

In that event, Dallas should have the edge here. They have an impressive 19-7-1 home record, and Los Angeles is fresh off of a 7-0 drubbing by the Boston Bruins. It’ll be close, but the Stars should pick up the win.

Prediction: Stars win 3-2

Nashville Predators vs Seattle Kraken

Head-to-Head: Predators 1-1 Kraken

One of these teams, the Nashville Predators, are fighting tooth and nail to hold onto their current wild card position. The other team, the Seattle Kraken, are prepping for a trade deadline sell-off. That likely nudges the needle in the Predators’ direction, even with them being on the road.

The Predators have been playing well as of late too. They just played a tough Tampa Bay Lightning team to a close loss, but had won their two games previous, against the Dallas Stars and Florida Panthers. Those are three capable teams – even if Dallas isn’t quite as good as the other two – and the Predators performed well against all three. Rookie Tanner Jeannot has four goals in his last five and 18 on the season. He is a major driver for Nashville and should be a force in this one.

The Kraken have mostly struggled all season long, so at this point it is more of a watch to see which of their players are elevating themselves towards the trade deadline. Mark Giordano likely remains one of the more premiere pieces that could be on the move.

Predators should be able to fare well tonight against an opponent that is lacking compared to recent competition.

Prediction: Predators win 4-2

St Louis Blues vs New York Rangers

Head-to-Head: Blues 0-0 Rangers

One of the east’s best takes on one of the west’s best in tonight’s featured game. The St. Louis Blues have an offence that can score with the best the league has to offer, and a defence that ranks sixth in goals against per game. It’s a well-balanced attack that allows them to compete with every team in the league. They enter tonight’s game on a four-game winning streak and an impressive 7-2-1 mark in their last 10.

The New York Rangers aren’t quite as balanced, as their offence doesn’t have as much output; however, they do have a superstar by the name of Igor Shesterkin in net. Shesterkin has been simply exceptional this season. He has a 25-6-3 record with three shutouts, a miniscule 1.95 goals against average, and a sparkling .941 save percentage. According to MoneyPuck, he leads the league with 31.1 goals saved above expected. That level of production is elite and doesn’t just have him in the Vezina trophy conversation but should have him in the Hart conversation as well.

This matchup between one of the league’s most balanced teams vs the league’s best goaltender is equal parts intriguing and challenging to predict. The Blues have been better than the Rangers as of late, but the Rangers have been quite good at home. Both team’s are fairly equal in the special teams’ department, and although the Blues have the superior offence, Shesterkin likely neutralizes that advantage.

This most likely suggest a game that hits extra time. In a three-on-three situation, the team with the Vezina candidate in net has the edge.

Prediction: Rangers win 3-2 (OT)

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