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 Calgary Flames vs Colorado Avalanche.
NHL Predictions with Calgary Flames vs Colorado Avalanche
Winnipeg Jets vs St. Louis Blues
Head-to-Head: Jets 2-1 Blues
The Winnipeg Jets quietly slipped out of the playoff race in January and February. Multiple losing streaks, including one 0-4-2 stretch and another 0-3-1 stretch, likely dealt fatal blows to their postseason aspirations. The Blues have been treading water over roughly the same stretch of time, winning as often as they lose. Luckily for them, their stronger start afforded St. Louis some room for struggling, though they can’t continue that pace. The buffer they used to have shrunk down to next to nothing, and the playoff bubble includes too many teams to flirt with falling into the mix.
Jordan Kyrou leads the Blues, with an enormous breakout season for the 23-year-old. Pavel Buchnevich proved a fantastic addition to their roster, too. The most surprising piece of the team, though, remains the emergence of Ville Husso in goal. His stellar record and stat line should have him in the Vezina Trophy discussion, but he’ll need to start the lion’s share of their remaining contests to justify serious consideration. Jordan Binnington still owns more starts, but the difference in their performance should shift things in Husso’s favour.
Prediction: Blues win 8-3
Anaheim Ducks vs New York Islanders
Head-to-Head: Ducks 0-1 Islanders
A couple of months ago, the Ducks sat well within the playoff picture in the Pacific Division and were flying high. Today, they sit on the outside looking in (but not by much). The race crowded significantly, so every game means more than the last for Anaheim.
The Islanders continue down a disappointing path. It seems so long ago that they took the eventual champion Lightning squad to a game seven in the Eastern Conference Finals…but that was just one season ago. Now, they’re inevitably going to miss the playoffs, despite an excellent year from Ilya Sorokin between the pipes. They simply aren’t scoring enough, something they usually deal with just fine thanks to their strong defensive system. That hasn’t come together this year, but maybe they can show up to play spoilers and try sweeping the season series vs the Ducks.
Prediction: Ducks win 3-0
Florida Panthers vs Los Angeles Kings
Head-to-Head: Panthers 0-1 Kings
Not many predicted the Kings fighting tooth-and-nail for the Pacific Division title back in September. Yet, here we are. Far more predicted the Panthers pushing hard again in the Atlantic after last season, so their year has been more on-par with expectations.
The Kings topped Florida on the road back in December, handing the Cats a rare regulation loss in their own arena. Jonathan Huberdeau needs to be on everyone’s radar at this point; he’s a top-five winger league-wide, and potentially one of the top five most exciting hockey players to watch in the world right now. He and Aleksander Barkov pace the team in scoring, but their depth includes plenty of other playmakers and goal scorers. LA wins games in a bit of a different fashion, with no players scoring at a point-per-game pace. Anze Kopitar remains their bonafide leader, and Jonathan Quick still owns the crease (but shares a significant portion of the workload with Calvin Petersen). This year, their experience has exceeded the effects of Father Time, but they may be in over their heads against a Panthers team looking for revenge.
Prediction: Panthers win 5-1
Tampa Bay Lightning vs Vancouver Canucks
Head-to-Head: Lightning 1-0 Canucks
The Lightning enter this one on the back-end of a back-to-back. They swing through Vancouver with one stop remaining (Seattle) for their six-game road trip. They return home for just one game before departing for another four away matchups.
Vancouver owns a nearly exact opposite schedule currently, as Tampa represents their third visitor in a seven-game homestand. The Canucks started hot with Bruce Boudreau behind the bench, and have packed wins away in bunches lately too. They caught up to the playoff race in the West, so there’s plenty on the line tonight. The Bolts remain well inside the playoff picture out East but remain in a dog fight for their division title.
Expect a hard-fought matchup, though the Canucks schedule edge could prove to be the difference-maker.
Prediction: Canucks win 3-2
Calgary Flames vs Colorado Avalanche
Head-to-Head: Flames 1-0 Avalanche
The Avalanche simply haven’t been themselves as of late. After winning six of seven, they struggled through the first part of March. That included regulation losses against the Arizona Coyotes and New Jersey Devils, two teams the Avs should’ve been able to collect points against. They also lost one in overtime to the Flames, so they come into tonight seeking retribution.
Colorado owns the home-ice advantage in this one again. The sole matchup between these clubs in Calgary comes at the end of the month. Both clubs remain atop the Western Conference in their respective divisions, making tonight’s game a potential preview for a second or third round postseason matchup. Keep an eye on Elias Lindholm, he’s scoring over a point-per-game for the first time in his nine-year career. Johnny Gaudreau isn’t too shabby either, on pace for his first 100+ point season.
If there’s a comparable offence, though, it’s Colorado’s. Nazem Kadri continues his absolutely monster season, setting new personal records at 31 years of age. He leads this potent squad in scoring, though Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon and defensive stud Cale Makar sit close behind. This is going to be a good one!
Prediction: Avalanche win 5-4 in OT