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 Minnesota Wild vs. Chicago Blackhawks. be sure to check out our other slates of NHL Predictions too.
NHL Predictions: Minnesota Wild vs Chicago Blackhawks
Columbus Blue Jackets at New Jersey Devils
Head to Head: Blue Jackets 0 – 0 Devils
The Columbus Blue Jackets have been leaking goals to start the season, as they’ve given 37 so far this season. This statistic means the Jackets are 31st in the league. Elvis Merzlikins has struggled so far this season, but there is hope Joonas Korpisalo can return soon. Korpisalo has been rehabbing with AHL Cleveland. The Latvian goalie is the expected starter for Columbus.
Another awful stat is the Jackets are dead-last in power play efficiency with no extra-man goals so far this season. They’ll have to get that fixed if they want to salvage something out of this season.
The New Jersey Devils have been surprising at 5-3 this season. However, they’ll have to deal with the loss of Ondrej Palat. New Jersey has done a better job on defense as its 10th in the league in goals against. Jesper Bratt has three goals and 10 assists for 13 points to lead in all those categories.
New Jersey’s penalty kill has been great at 92.6 percent so far, which is good enough for fourth. Seems unlikely the Jackets will break their power-play drought in this one. Vitek Vanacek is the expected starter for the game, but always check Twitter the morning of a game to get confirmation.
The Devils seem more equipped to scratch out a win here with the more sound defence. Keep in mind the early 2 p.m. Eastern Time puck drop for fantasy hockey purposes.
Prediction: Devils win 4-1.
Minnesota Wild at Chicago Blackhawks
Head-to-Head: Wild 0-0 Blackhawks
Both teams are coming off losses on the first night of a back-to-back set. The Wild were beaten 2-1 by the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night. Marc-Andre Fleury will get the start after Filip Gustavsson made 23 saves the game before. Kirill Kaprizov is starting to get going as he’s got six goals already for 2022-23. Calen Addison doesn’t have a goal, but he does have seven assists to pace the Wild in that category.
Both teams are similar in goals for and power-play success rate. However, the Wild struggled in the early part of the season in stopping teams. Minnesota is still 25th in goals allowed despite some better defensive play in the last few games.
Chicago has looked better than experts have suggestion, but that’s because expectations are on the floor. The Blackhawks lost 4-3 in overtime to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night. Alex Stalock likely gets the start with an early afternoon start on game two of a back-to-back. Stalock has a 3.00 goals-against-average and .917 save percentage.
Max Domi leads the Blackhawks in goals with four so far this campaign. Patrick Kane has six assists as both players could be trade bait. Chicago could be picking up draft picks as the rebuild is in full swing.
It’s the first of four meetings between the Central Division rivals. Keep an eye on what team gets off to a quicker start with the early faceoff time. Minnesota did win two straight before losing in Detroit. The over on a 6.5 number might be a smart play with the teams goal-scoring prowess.
Prediction: Wild win 5-3.
Dumba scores OT winner as Wild beat Blackhawks. MORE: https://t.co/BqTQkVqZKr pic.twitter.com/q1gQIND9cA
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) February 5, 2020