NHL Predictions: March 15th with Dallas Stars vs Toronto Maple Leafs

NHL Predictions: Dallas Stars vs Toronto Maple Leafs
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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 Dallas Stars vs Toronto Maple Leafs.

NHL Predictions with Dallas Stars vs Toronto Maple Leafs

Arizona Coyotes vs Montreal Canadiens

Head-to-Head: Coyotes 1-0 Canadiens

Fun fact: nine teams in the NHL have collected more wins than these two teams combined thus far this season. Though since they face-off against each other, one of these bottom feeders is guaranteed a “W” tonight.

This matchup has no impact on the playoff race. It won’t be turning heads around the league. Therefore, it truly only matters to fans hoping for marginally better odds at the first overall pick in this summer’s draft. So, really, it is a rare case where some fans could actively cheer against their own team.

Interestingly enough, both clubs enter this one on hot streaks. Arizona has collected wins in five of its last six. Meanwhile, the Canadiens went 8-2-1 in their previous 11 games. Due to Jakob Chychrun’s recent injury, the Habs come into this as favourites. Though if the Yotes pull off a win they’ll sweep the season series tonight on the road.

Prediction: Coyotes win 4-1

Anaheim Ducks vs New York Rangers

Head-to-Head: Ducks 0-1 Rangers

Anaheim enters this one without Josh Manson, who was traded to the Colorado Avalanche yesterday. That deal came exactly one week before the NHL trade deadline and may be a sign of further moves to come from the Ducks. Not long ago, Anaheim sat near the top of the Pacific Division. Now they rank sixth, albeit still just four points out of a wildcard position.

The race got crowded fast, and the Ducks might be ready to cut their losses and sell assets. After all, their early success came as quite a surprise. Despite tons of optimism surrounding their future, fans will still find quitting on this season a tough pill to swallow. They’ll need a victory against the Rangers today to perhaps change course but in all likelihood their focus shifts to 2022-23 and beyond in the coming days. Oh, and good luck scoring on Igor Shesterkin

Prediction: Rangers win 3-0

New York Islanders vs Washington Capitals

Head-to-Head: Islanders 0-1 Capitals

The common storyline for these matchups revolves around Barry Trotz. After winning the Cup as the Capitals’ head coach, Trotz signed on to take over the bench on Long Island. For a while, it looked like he could win another Cup, but this time with the Islanders.

However, New York experienced a dramatic fall from grace this season and will now wind up missing out on the postseason for the first time since 2017-2018. Right now, the biggest thing they have going for them is goaltending as Ilya Sorokin continues holding strong despite the turbulence.

Let’s go a step further with predictions with this one. You heard it here first: Alex Ovechkin moves ahead of Jaromir Jagr for sole possession of third place on the all-time goal scorer’s list. He’ll pot at least his 767th career goal against his former coach (and the Caps will take the game in the process).

Prediction: Capitals win 3-2 OT

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Nashville Predators

Head-to-Head: Penguins 1-0 Predators

Sidney Crosby simply refuses to age. At 34 years young, “Sid the Kid” has tallied 58 points in 48 contests thus far. The Penguins keep defying odds to continue their relevance as an Eastern Conference juggernaut. But they probably reside a tier below the “elite” group nowadays (see the records of the Hurricanes, Panthers, and Lightning).

The Predators keep hanging in there out West as well. Their success comes on the back of defenceman Roman Josi, who sits squarely in the Norris conversation. His 66 points in 57 games leads the team in scoring. Elsewhere on the roster, Matt Duchene and Filip Forsberg continue forging career years, not to mention tremendous bounce-back campaigns. This should be a really exciting game, with playoff implications on both sides of the fence.

Prediction: Penguins win 4-2

Vegas Golden Knights vs Winnipeg Jets

Head-to-Head: Golden Knights 0-1 Jets

Poor Jack Eichel. Since coming to Vegas, his new club sports a 4-8-1 record. That stretch sent them tumbling down the standings in the Pacific Division. The hockey world may have been getting ahead of themselves with the speculation surrounding the injury to Mark Stone and how the Knights could circumvent the cap by activating him from LTIR on day one of the postseason.

Vegas needs to focus on just qualifying for the playoffs before anyone thinks harder on Stone. They suddenly sit in the bottom wild card spot, with the Stars, Jets, Canucks and Ducks all breathing down their neck. Not to mention the fact that all those teams (besides Anaheim) hold games in hand. Having gone all-in yet again this year, the Golden Knights find themselves in hot water right now; they sure need their new superstar Eichel to propel them out of this precarious position.

By contrast, Winnipeg certainly won’t want that to happen. They need all the help they can get, and need to make some decisions quickly with the trade deadline looming. Paul Stastny and Andrew Copp sit on most deadline boards, but if Winnipeg can string together a few wins this week, maybe they hold tight.

Prediction: Jets win 5-4 in OT

Dallas Stars vs Toronto Maple Leafs

Head-to-Head: Stars 0-0 Maple Leafs

In the first of two late-season matchups, the Leafs play host to the Stars. Toronto certainly will make the playoffs, while the Stars need to make a push down the stretch to get in. Dallas holds games in hand on the entire conference, but those games only mean something if they accumulate points. A victory against a quality opponent like Toronto certainly would be a positive indication of their postseason candidacy.

The Leafs remain a hard team to get behind when discussing the “Cup favourites”. After all, they hold a long-standing run of first-round exits, regardless of their regular-season success. And of all years, this seems like the most difficult one to survive the quarterfinals. Should they remain in second or third place, they draw either the Lightning or Panthers first. Should they fall to fourth, they play one of the aforementioned Florida franchises or the Hurricanes. None of those are favourable matchups. But of course, Auston Matthews and co have a lot to prove regardless of the opponent at this stage.

Similarly, Dallas has a lot to prove, too. Joe Pavelski re-signed with the club and continues leading them in scoring. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin certainly aren’t the same players they once were, but the team as a whole are finding ways to win. Mind you, Jason Robertson‘s emergence has helped tremendously. This should be a fun matchup of likely middle-of-the-pack playoff squads.

Prediction: Maple Leafs win 5-4 in OT

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