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 Edmonton Oilers vs. Calgary Flames. be sure to check out our other slates of NHL Predictions too.
NHL Predictions: Edmonton Oilers vs Calgary Flames
Colorado Avalanche vs New York Islanders
Head to Head: Avalanche 0 – 0 Islanders
The Colorado Avalanche and New York Islanders enter today’s contest with four wins within their first eight games each. A surprising trend for the Avalanche early has become their 5v5 offence, ranking 22nd in xGF/60 and 31st in GF/60 (Evolving-Hockey) throughout their first set of games of the season. Luckily, the bulk of their total offence so far has come on the power play. This is not as surprising for an offence that would make more sense to be described as a firing squad.
For the Islanders, a lack of control on the overall pace of play has amplified poor d-zone play, forcing an especially high level of reliance on the goaltending performance of Ilya Sorokin. Luckily for New York, Sorokin has absolutely delivered throughout the early goings of the season (see the 41-save shutout against the Rangers Wednesday night). As each team comes off of games last night, both are expected to start their opposite goaltender from the previous night. Some fun offensive matchups should bring about exciting hockey, but a more stable Avalanche defence sways this prediction in their favour.
Prediction: Avalanche win 4-2
Washington Capitals vs Nashville Predators
Head to Head: Capitals 0 – 0 Predators
The Washington Capitals and Nashville Predators face off for the first of two meetings on the season. Nashville put a five-game skid to rest on Thursday, while Washington is coming off a game in which they did not score. Nashville’s win came after a four-day break, perhaps allowing them some much-needed regrouping and push for momentum heading into November. Meanwhile, Washington continues to shuffle their forward group without the services of Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson, with mixed overall results.
Headed into tonight, the expected goaltenders appear to be Darcy Kuemper and Juuse Saros. Unfortunately for the Capitals, going against one of the league’s premier goaltenders without consistent offence production established may prove difficult. Another factor to consider is Washington’s near-bottom performances in controlling the pace of play early in the season (29th in expected goals for percentage); a large contrast to that of Nashville. Tonight should be close, but Nashville appears more inclined for a victory.
Prediction: Predators win 3-1
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Seattle Kraken
Head to Head: Penguins 0 – 0 Kraken
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Seattle Kraken have each been extremely exciting hockey teams to start the season. Each ranking among the league’s best in chance generation in early contests. Unfortunately for the Kraken, finishing highlights itself as a minor adjustment in comparison to the absolutely lacklustre performances put upon by Philipp Grubauer and Martin Jones in net each. Seattle’s pace of play control ultimately foiling by poor goaltending, below-average finishing (both exhibited in a 5-4 loss to Vancouver while outshooting 36-19), and untimely defensive breakdowns have all become staples for the team in their early existence. Only further emphasized this season (arguably due to legitimately dangerous winger core and depth).
Pittsburgh comes in losing each of its last three. While concerning on defensive fronts, the offence has stayed relatively active, albeit with reduced overall production. Luckily for the Penguins, they are facing one of the low-tier goaltending tandems in the league tonight. Considering these factors for both sides, an exciting, offence-driven game appears to be most in store, with our prediction giving the edge to Pittsburgh’s stability in an overall (albeit small) sample.
Prediction: Penguins win 6-3
Edmonton Oilers vs Calgary Flames
Head to Head: Oilers 0 – 1 Flames
For tonight’s NHL Predictions featured game, we have the Battle of Alberta! A matchup that never seems to disappoint, and will most certainly excite with offensive octane and inclination again. Both of these teams have already faced off this season, with Edmonton losing grip of the first period but pushing the game to a single goal by its conclusion. For the Flames, a 4-1 win against the Penguins should bring further momentum into the game for what has been an excellent start for the Flames (5-1-0). The Oilers came off a similarly impressive offensive effort on a standalone basis. However, the game was not with its turbulence in the pace of play, but a positive 6-5 result nevertheless (including a hattrick for Connor McDavid, his second of the year already!).
For the game itself, Calgary is expected to roll with Jacob Markstrom, while Edmonton is expected to roll with Jack Campbell. The goaltending battle will only add fuel to this game’s level of octane, as Campbell was run out of Rogers Place his last time up against Calgary.
Markstrom himself has been consistent and solid throughout his starts early in the season. On the skating spectrum, both teams bring excellent top-six groups in the forward core and active defences with the ability to create and sustain offensive pressure in the offensive zone. Each team’s top guys will need little introduction for tonight; the Battle of Alberta is always a sacred treat within the league, and another recent chapter has a chance to be written in the rivalry in Calgary tonight. Our pick tonight lies in a close, octane victory for Calgary in an overtime thriller.
Prediction: Flames win 5-4 (OT)
A very spirited first 20 minutes & the #Oilers trail the Flames 1-0. We have the 17-12 edge in shots. #BattleOfAlberta | #LetsGoOilers pic.twitter.com/iOx3OlI7Yq
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) January 30, 2020