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 Vegas Golden Knights vs Chicago Blackhawks.
NHL Predictions with Vegas Golden Knights vs Chicago Blackhawks
Philadelphia Flyers vs Winnipeg Jets
Head-to-Head: Flyers 1-0 Jets
These are two teams backing into the end of the season after a pair of disappointing campaigns. The Winnipeg Jets have only one win in their last five games, but strangely enough, that victory came against the top-seeded Colorado Avalanche. That game followed a four-game losing streak on the road immediately prior. They’re back in Winnipeg tonight, where they’ve carved out an above .500 record on the year.
The Philadelphia Flyers managed a shocking win of their own recently, as well. They surprisingly beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 a few nights ago, but that win represented only the second victory in the last nine games for the Flyers. Tonight, they’ll be on the road where they have struggled mightily all year. Add in the fact that the Jets will roll out a power play that is almost 10% better than the Flyers (21% vs 12%), and a better goaltender in Connor Hellebuyck, and this looks like a win for the home team.
Prediction: Jets win 3-1
Montreal Canadiens vs New York Rangers
Head-to-Head: Canadiens 0-2 Rangers
With their loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night, the New York Rangers officially bowed out of the race for first place in the Metropolitan Division and guaranteed themselves a second-place finish. At this point, all that remains is determining who their first-round opponent will be, which is completely out of their hands. Considering that there are no stakes at play, it might make sense for the Rangers to start resting players here in preparation for next week.
Even if the Rangers do decide to rest a key player or two, it’s still a safe bet to pick them as the winner tonight. The Montreal Canadiens have lost nine in a row and haven’t had much of a puncher’s chance in any of those defeats. With one more loss, they’ll clinch the number one spot in this year’s lottery as well. That means a win is actually counter-productive to their goal right now. There’s very little reason to believe they can’t achieve that with yet another loss to a much better team tonight.
Prediction: Rangers win 4-0
Arizona Coyotes vs Dallas Stars
Head-to-Head: Coyotes 1-0 Stars
The Dallas Stars control their own destiny and can lock up a postseason birth with even just a single point tonight. It’ll be a great opportunity as they’re at home against an Arizona Coyotes team that has only one win in their last 10 games. That win did happen to be last night against the Minnesota Wild, but it’s unlikely to think that any of that momentum will carry over into this one.
There’s a difference between beating a team that is more or less sleep-walking into a guaranteed playoff birth and trying to beat one that is fighting to secure their place in the dance. The Stars are fresh off of an emotional victory against the Vegas Golden Knights and will be determined to leave no anticipation leading into game 82. Dallas’ veterans should be able to motivate their squad to a dominant, playoff-clinching victory.
Prediction: Stars win 3-1
Los Angeles Kings vs Seattle Kraken
Head-to-Head: Kings 2-1 Kraken
Unfortunately, there isn’t much on the line in this one either. The Los Angeles Kings have their playoff seeding secured already, while the Seattle Kraken are jockeying for draft positioning at the bottom of the standings. Despite the discrepancy in points between the two teams, this might be one where the Kraken can pull an upset. For one, the Kings may decide to rest a few players in their last couple of games. They’ve battled immense injuries all year and a few extra days of rest for their key players makes sense. Additionally, the Kraken have their last three games at home and will be trying to end their inaugural season on a high note.
This one will be close, but the Kraken should be capable of pulling off the upset if the Kings opt to rest some stars.
Prediction: Kraken win 3-2 (OT)
Vegas Golden Knights vs Chicago Blackhawks
Head-to-Head: Golden Knights 1-1 Blackhawks
With their loss to the Stars on Tuesday night, the Vegas Golden Knights further cemented themselves into a hole that could completely collapse their season tonight. Even if the Golden Knights win against the Chicago Blackhawks this evening, they’ll still need to root for an unlikely Coyotes win against the Stars. Even then, their odds to get in would remain long.
A loss to the Blackhawks would be devastating, albeit oddly fitting end to the Knight’s season. Down the stretch, Vegas has shot themselves in the foot more than once by losing to teams below them in the standings. Tonight, that could be the case again. Vegas is on their third game in four nights, all in different cities. That’s a significant rest disadvantage that usually leaves teams in that situation on the losing end of things. The Golden Knights have also lost four of their last five, leaving them with almost no momentum going into this one.
As for the Blackhawks, tonight’s tilt represents their final home game of the season. To say that this year has been bad for Chicago would be an understatement. A win tonight, on home ice, would at least end things on somewhat of a positive note, even if that note is quite small in the bigger picture.
The Golden Knights have disappointed all the way down the stretch with their inability to win when they’ve needed to, and that habit just might rear its ugly head once more against a team looking to give their fans a reward for their extreme patience.
Prediction: Blackhawks in 5-4 (OT)