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 Los Angeles Kings vs Calgary Flames.
NHL Predictions with Los Angeles Kings vs Calgary Flames
Los Angeles Kings vs Calgary Flames
Head-to-Head: Kings 0-0 Flames
The battle of the top two teams in the Pacific division is destined to be a good one. The Flames are out of this world with an elite offence, defence, and goaltending. LA has had a good season relying on their solid defensive ability featuring a bounce-back season from Jonathan Quick. Both these teams rely on quality over quantity. Although this may be true for the Kings they are still one of the top teams at generating high danger shots.
The goaltending matchup will be fantastic between Jacob Markstrom and Jonathan Quick. Special teams will be a key situation for the Flames as the Kings struggle immensely on both the powerplay and penalty kill. Both teams can play both kinds of offence, rush or forecheck. The issue the Kings face is there are no correct matchups. They aren’t able to match their high offensive lines vs Calgary’s weak defensive lines because there aren’t any. Instead of a key player, the key line of this game will be Calgary’s depth third and fourth lines.
Flames win 3-1
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Minnesota Wild
Head-to-Head: Penguins 0-1 Wild
The return of Jason Zucker vs the battle of the Flower vs the Penguins. After dropping another game vs the New York Rangers, the Penguins will take on the red hot Wild. Winners of seven in a row, Minnesota looks to make it eight vs a Tristan Jarry-led team. The Penguins have been really struggling both offensively and defensively. They aren’t a very fast team but their ability to know where each other are at all times makes them hard to play against. Being one of the best offensive teams in the league, Jarry will definitely need to be ready.
A major area the Wild stick out is in their ability to break the puck out with possession consistently. In one area of the game, these two teams are the complete opposite. That area is finishing. The Wild are by far the best team at finishing on weaker chances whereas the Penguins struggle to finish on their best chances. It all comes down to who can put the puck in the net more. The Wild should grab on to their eight straight wins as Penguins legend Marc-Andre Fleury carries his new team to a victory and a bouquet of flowers.
Wild win 4-2
San Jose Sharks vs Colorado Avalanche
Head-to-Head: Sharks 0-0 Avalanche
Sitting atop the Central division by a mile, the Avalanche are playoff locks just collecting more Presidents trophy guarantees. Upon the devastating injury to Nathan MacKinnon, the Avalanche continue to be Stanley Cup favourites. The Sharks who had a great start to the season cooled off and sit in the middle of the conference and a possible top 10 lottery pick. The most exciting part of their season was the extension given to Czechia native Tomas Hertl.
Colorado is a very efficient zone entry team creating chances consistently upon entering the zone. Their neutral zone play is also efficient with them having over 10 controlled zone entries per game off of neutral zone play. A flaw of the Sharks is their inability to forecheck. Surely this can be dependent on coaching but a strong forecheck can steal a team wins. The key player in this matchup is Timo Meier who has seven points in his last four games.
Avalanche win 5-1
Dallas Stars vs Anaheim Ducks
Head-to-Head: Stars 0-0 Ducks
It is an extremely tight race in the Western Conference. The wildcard spot is currently obtained by Dallas and St Louis but Vegas is right there in the race. The key to the Star’s success this season has been their defensive play and goaltender Jake Oettinger. With their lack of offensive depth, they’re lucky they have stars to depend on. The Ducks are in a very large rut losing 10 in a row. Dallas is a team that likes to generate off of the forecheck which makes sense considering the size up and down their roster.
The main issue they’ve had this season is not shooting the puck. They go for quality vs quantity which isn’t going to work when you get slim chances per game. The Ducks are a team that struggles to do basically everything. They don’t create offence, allow tons of chances against, and are league-worst when it comes to special teams. The spotlight in this game will be on the Star’s dominant first line featuring Joe Pavelski, Jason Robertson, and Roope Hintz.
Stars win 5-3