NHL Predictions: March 17th with Florida Panthers vs Vegas Golden Knights

Florida Panthers vs Vegas Golden Knights
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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 Florida Panthers vs Vegas Golden Knights. 

NHL Predictions with Florida Panthers vs Vegas Golden Knights

Pittsburgh Penguins vs St. Louis Blues

Head-to-Head: Penguins 1-0 Blues

This is an intriguing east-west matchup between two of the league’s better teams. The Pittsburgh Penguins have worked hard to secure top three positioning in the Metropolitan Division and now have a legitimate shot at second place. The Penguins are certainly hungry to lock up home-ice advantage in what would be a close series against either the New York Rangers or Washington Capitals. With playoff positioning anything but certain, these points definitely still matter.

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The St. Louis Blues find themselves in a similar situation. The playoffs are more than likely guaranteed, but they have no shot at catching the Colorado Avalanche. As a result, they are jockeying for position down the stretch, with the Nashville Predators and Minnesota Wild nipping at their heels.

The Blues are one of only three teams in the west with 20 wins at home. They are a much better team with the matchup advantage than without. With goaltending roughly equal, the Blues will have a slight edge on the power play and offensive play overall. St. Louis should secure a close victory at home.

Prediction: Blues win 4-3

Buffalo Sabres vs Edmonton Oilers

Head-to-Head: Sabres 1-0 Oilers

Back in November, the Edmonton Oilers visited the Buffalo Sabres as part of their early-season eastern conference swing. The Oilers had started the season hot and had just beat the Boston Bruins the night before. The Sabres shocked them. They won 3-2, had several breakaways, and socked the Oilers with quite the gut punch.

The Sabres are more than capable of doing that again tonight. The Oilers have won 3 in a row and are 10-5-1 under new coach Jay Woodcroft. Edmonton does have momentum, and desperately needs the win; but, this is an eerily similar situation to that game back in November.

The Sabres will likely have the edge in the net too. Craig Anderson should get the start and he has been not too bad on a poor team, putting up a 10-8 record, 2.96 goals-against average and .907 save percentage. That’s better than Oilers’ starter Mike Smith, who has a 5-8-1 record, a 3.57 goals-against average, and .891 save percentage.

Ultimately, it’s tough to bet against Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in a game they need to win, but the Sabres’ advantage in net and recent good play will get this one to extra time.

Prediction: Oilers win 5-4 (OT)

Detroit Red Wings vs Vancouver Canucks

Head-to-Head: Red Wings 1-0 Canucks

It wasn’t that long ago that the Vancouver Canucks looked destined to miss the playoffs. That’s no longer the case after a recent hot stretch of 7-2-1. They are now knocking at the door of the western conference wild card race, and their momentum could very well carry them past the Vegas Golden Knights.

At the forefront of their surge is J.T. Miller. He has 12 points in his last five games, and 73 total on the season in 59 games played. Will the Canucks still trade him? Hard to say, but if they do, they should get a significant return.

The Detroit Red Wings have lost six in a row and have a poor road record of 8-17-3. This is a very winnable game for the Canucks.

Prediction: Canucks win 4-2

San Jose Sharks vs Los Angeles Kings

Head-to-Head: Sharks 3-0

The Los Angeles Kings have been well-ahead of the San Jose Sharks in the standings pretty much all year long. Despite that, the Sharks have beaten the Kings in all three meetings thus far. This will be their fourth and final game of the year and you can bet the Sharks will be vying to sweep their state rivals amidst what is an otherwise lost season.

The last times these two teams met, on March 10th and 12th, the Kings were outscored 9-3 overall. It was an awkward blip amid a period of good play for Los Angeles. The advantage in both games appeared to be special teams. The Sharks are mid-pack in power play and among the best on the penalty kill. Conversely, the Kings are 28th in the league in both metrics. That mismatch lead to four power play goals for the Sharks in those two games.

It seems unlikely that the Kings will get swept by a clearly inferior team, but they need to stay disciplined.

Prediction: Kings win 2-1

Florida Panthers vs Vegas Golden Knights

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

Things are absolutely rotten on the Strip. Amid a staggering run of injuries, and a total lack of goaltending, the Vegas Golden Knights find themselves on a five-game losing streak. They are 3-7 in their last 10 and have been outscored 37-25 in that stretch.

The one consistent in their recent losing streak is that all losses have been on the road. Perhaps a shift back to home, where they’ll play tonight, will be the spark that they need.

The issue of course is that the Florida Panthers are an excellent hockey team, and are a tough out on the road. In 28 road games, they’ve only suffered seven regulation losses. They’ve also won six out of their last seven, four of which wins came on the road. Tonight will be the third away game in a row for the Panthers, which is historically tough for teams, but equally challenging is the first game back after a long road trip, which is exactly the situation Vegas finds itself in.

Florida will also likely start Seregei Bobrovsky, who represents a massive advantage in net over the likes of Laurent Brossoit.

Vegas will have to wait another day to snap out of their funk.

Prediction: Panthers win 5-2 

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