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 Vancouver Canucks vs Montreal Canadiens.
NHL Predictions: Vancouver Canucks vs Montreal Canadiens
Carolina Hurricanes vs Florida Panthers
Head-to-Head: Hurricanes 0 – 0 Panthers
Coming off of a tough loss, the Carolina Hurricanes look to rebound offensively vs a Florida Panthers team who has had a decent start to the year. The Panthers have not struggled to score this year as they’re averaging 3.22 games per game. Defensively they’ve improved under coach Paul Maurice averaging 2.46 goals against per game.
The Panthers and Hurricanes are extremely similar with an emphasis on possession as we see both teams having puck control 57% of the time, a league-high. They’re also similar in the sense that both teams have great goalies but have received only average goaltending that’s necessary for them to win games. The Panthers have been a very unlucky team maintaining -12.5 goals scored above expected. Once they start finishing and getting some luck, watch out. Due to their ability to shut teams down, Rod Brindamour and his crew take this one.
Hurricanes win 3-2
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Washington Capitals
Head-to-Head: Penguins 0 – 0 Capitals
There’s no doubt these long-time rivals have not had the best start to the season, injuries have been a common theme among the two veteran squads. One can’t deny that Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin never fail to keep us entertained. The Pittsburgh Penguins got off to a very hot start and then flipped a switch losing seven in a row. The Washington Capitals haven’t been much different. They’ve struggled to put a small streak together and have been losing games they shouldn’t.
Darcy Kuemper has been a bright spot for Washington sitting on a .919 save percentage and 4.53 GSAX. Tristan Jarry, on the other hand, has been pretty rough showing signs of his glove slide woes coming back. Staying out of the box will be huge for the Penguins with Washington having a dominant top-10 powerplay. Ovechkin vs Crosby is a beautiful thing to watch so take it in while you can, you’re witnessing two of the greats.
Capitals win 5-4
Minnesota Wild vs Anaheim Ducks
Head-to-Head: Wild 0 – 0 Ducks
On the topic of disappointing teams, how about these two? Yikes. Part of the Minnesota Wild‘s issues is goaltending. They’ve received some of the worst goaltending in the league between duo Marc Andre Fleury and rookie Filip Gustavsson. The Anaheim Ducks have actually played some fun games for the first time in a few years due to their electric offence featuring the young guns.
The issue for both teams is yeah, keeping the puck out of their own net and out of their own end in general. The Ducks allow a large number of high-danger goals against. While John Gibson struggles against high-danger chances so this could be a big advantage point for Minnesota. An opponent like this is exactly what Minnesota needs. Kirill Kaprizov can’t do everything for them so depth scoring in this one would provide a boost. That is, if Kaprizov even plays.
Kirill Kaprizov has received a match penalty for this play on Drew Doughty. pic.twitter.com/Ry9dkcn8sj
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) November 9, 2022
Wild win 4-1
Vancouver Canucks vs Montreal Canadiens
Head-to-Head: Canucks 0 – 0 Canadiens
It is almost a guarantee that Bo Horvat is going to redeem himself after Saturday’s shootout mishap. These two Canadian teams have come as advertised this season. The Montreal Canadiens are expected to be a top-five lottery team once again while the Canucks are expected to be in the playoff spot race but ultimately be pushed out by others.
The future is bright in Montreal with Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, and Kirby Dach leading the way. Both teams have really been middle of the pack to start the season. They’re not horrible offensively but not great offensively. The same can be said defensively. In net is where they differ. Montreal’s tandem of Jake Allen and Sam Montembault has been outstanding this season. Thatcher Demko has not been amazing.
Dominique Ducharme confirme que Jake Allen sera le gardien partant contre les Canucks. Aucun autre changement n’est prévu pour l’alignement de ce soir.
Dominique Ducharme confirms Jake Allen gets the start tonight. No other changes to the lineup.#GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/AUwFz2NwJ1
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) March 19, 2021
Montreal is definitely going to want to stay out of the box as the Canucks puck movement and overall performance on the powerplay is elite. On Vancouver’s end, they’re going to want to limit those high-danger chances against due to their goalies still finding their game. The Canadiens like to generate offence from the perimeters so having awareness will be key. A guy like Conor Garland will excel in a game like this getting under the opposition’s skin and using his down-low play to generate chances. All in all, Montreal can use its speed to make this Canucks team take fewer risks. Canada vs Canada always provides a good show
Canadiens win 4-3