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 Tampa Bay Lightning vs Washington Capitals.
NHL Predictions with Tampa Bay Lightning vs Washington Capitals
Detroit Red Wings vs Winnipeg Jets
Head-to-Head: Red Wings 0-1 Jets
As of the time of this writing, ahead of their matchup against the Boston Bruins, the Detroit Red Wings had lost six games in a row. Things have really derailed in Detroit as of late. Their biggest issue has been goals against, as they’ve been absolutely bleeding lately. Not including the game against the Bruins, the Red Wings have surrendered 26 goals in their last four games. 26! That’s helped sink their goal differential on the season to minus 71, good for third last in the entire league.
The Winnipeg Jets haven’t been great as of late either, but they are definitely a better team than the Red Wings. The Jets’ playoff hopes look dashed at this point, but they’ll still be motivated to try and put together a late-season run under the category of “anything can happen”. Add in the fact that Detroit is on the second half of a back-to-back, and that they are a lowly 9-21-3 on the road, and this one should be Winnipeg’s to lose.
Prediction: Jets win 5-2
Seattle Kraken vs St. Louis Blues
Head-to-Head: Kraken 0-1 Blues
Take away the Seattle Kraken’s two recent games against the Vegas Golden Knights, and actually, they’ve been playing some of their better hockey of the season lately. They just defeated the playoff-contending Dallas Stars 4-1, and prior to that secured a 6-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. It goes to show that despite the Kraken being near the bottom of the league standings, they are more than capable of surprising better teams.
Fortunately for the St. Louis Blues, it seems like they might be a bit more capable of withholding a lesser team than the Stars or Kings. Consider the fact that the Kings have recently dispatched weaker teams like the Arizona Coyotes and Vancouver Canucks, plus they kept their wits sharp with an impressive win against the Calgary Flames on Saturday night.
Robert Thomas is also on fire right now (nine points in the last five games), the Blues have home-ice advantage, and they boast a significant edge in special teams. No surprises here, St. Louis wins.
Prediction: Blues win 5-1
Calgary Flames vs Anaheim Ducks
Head-to-Head: Flames 2-1 Ducks
The Calgary Flames may have been on a tiny bit of a skid prior to their win against the Kings on Monday, but don’t kid yourself. They are still a very good hockey team and remain atop the Pacific Division. Johnny Gaudreau is having the best season of his career, Jacob Markstrom is a wall in the net, and Darryl Sutter is coaching this team to almost peak performance.
That should spell disaster for the Anaheim Ducks, who have exactly one win in their last 10 games. That win came against one of the few teams below them in the standings, the Coyotes. Unlike the Kraken, the Ducks haven’t been capable of any surprises as of late and as a result, should struggle mightily tonight, even at home.
Prediction: Flames win 4-0.
Vancouver Canucks vs Vegas Golden Knights
Head-to-Head: Canucks 0-2 Golden Knights
The Vancouver Canucks currently sit eight points behind the Vegas Golden Knights, with one game in hand. To most observers, that’s a hill too steep to climb with only 12 games left in the season. That’s probably not enough to deter the actual players from still thinking they have a shot, however, and that adds a bit of juice to this divisional matchup. If nothing else, it provides the Canucks with a chance to help play spoiler for the Golden Knights as they battle for a spot in the wild card.
To Vegas’ credit, they’ve done what they needed to as of late. They’ve won five in a row and have crawled back into the second wild card spot. They are one point ahead of the Stars, but the Stars have three games in hand. For Vegas, their best shot at the playoffs might be to try and climb ahead of the Kings or Edmonton Oilers for third place in the Pacific. That’s going to take a wicked record down the stretch, not far off of their recent torrid pace. They’ll have an easier schedule to try and make it happen, continuing with tonight’s matchup.
When these two teams met on April 3rd, the Golden Knights beat the Canucks in Vancouver. It was a close game that could have gone either way. The Canucks are actually better on the road though, so we’ll say they flip the script tonight and upset their divisional rivals.
Prediction: Canucks win 3-2
Tampa Bay Lightning vs Washington Capitals
Head-to-Head: Lightning 2-0 Capitals
The Tampa Bay Lightning has been a bit more up-and-down than one would expect, as of late. Just a couple of weeks ago, they rattled off three straight losses but quickly turned things around winning four in a row. That shifted dramatically again, as they’ve now lost two in a row, including a loss to the last-place Montreal Canadiens, and a whopping 6-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
That level of inconsistency is a bit unusual for the Lightning and thus has them in the wild card, slightly behind the Bruins based on a tie-breaker. Now, they are only two points behind second in the Atlantic, but when you are the defending Stanley Cup champions, expectations are a bit higher than that.
Things haven’t been that rosy for the Washington Capitals as of late either. They’ve lost two in a row and four of their last six. They will almost certainly finish in the second wild-card spot, with the Florida Panthers looking to be their likely first-round opponent. The Lightning can serve as a great test tonight, to see if they can resurrect their game back to the level it will need to be at for that series.
Unfortunately for the Capitals, tonight might be too tough of a test. The Capitals are at home, but they’ve actually lost more games there than they’ve won. Meanwhile, the Lightning has won more games as a visitor this season, than they’ve won on home ice. The Lightning also has the better set of special teams, and on average have generally scored and defended at a higher clip than the Caps, all year long.
Tampa corrects itself here with a much-needed win.
Prediction: Lightning win 4-3
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