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 Winnipeg Jets vs Calgary Flames.
NHL Predictions: Winnipeg Jets vs Calgary Flames
Chicago Blackhawks vs Anaheim Ducks
Head-to-Head: Blackhawks 0-0 Ducks
This marks the first of three matchups between Chicago and Anaheim this season. Neither came into this season with particularly high expectations, as rebuilding clubs. And both look pretty much as they were expected to look to date, too. The Ducks own the fourth-worst Corsi-for percentage in the league, still better than the second-worst Blackhawks. Neither possesses the puck well and unsurprisingly they only recorded nine wins together through 27 combined games on the year.
Someone must win this one, though. Young studs Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry pace Anaheim in scoring. Their defence only contributed one single goal on the season, though. Plus John Gibson, at 2-8-1 with a .888 save percentage, simply appears to have lost that elite form he exhibited in years past. All that said, Chicago remains a favourable matchup, especially with Tyler Johnson and Seth Jones still on injured reserve.
Prediction: Ducks win 5-3
St. Louis Blues vs Vegas Golden Knights
Head-to-Head: Blues 0-0 Golden Knights
Before this season began, expectations remained high for these two teams. However, they couldn’t be trending in more opposite directions today. Vegas looks like a team on a mission to prove last season’s playoff miss was merely a hiccup, as they already collected 13 wins through their first 15 games. At the moment, they sit atop the Western Conference with a comfortable seven-point cushion between them and second place. They also lead the President’s Trophy race, but with more than 80% of the year to go, it is far too early to get overly excited.
Meanwhile, the Blues sit dead last in the West and tied for dead-last league-wide too. Their 4-8-0 record surprises everyone, as just a few months ago they took the eventual Cup Champion Avalanche team to a six-game series in the second round of the postseason. Oh, how the mighty have fallen in St. Louis. Vladimir Tarasenko, Robert Thomas and Brayden Schenn continue putting up points, but no one else in their forward group is scoring at even a half-point-per-game pace. Meanwhile, Vegas boasts an embarrassment of riches, with already nine players in double-digit point totals (including two defencemen). Logan Thompson fit right in as an NHL starting goalie, carrying an 8-2-0 record and a .925 save percentage. Even backup Adin Hill remains a perfect 5-0-0 in the net.
Prediction: Golden Knights win 4-0
Detroit Red Wings vs Los Angeles Kings
Head-to-Head: Red Wings 0-1 Kings
Almost one month ago, Los Angeles stole an overtime victory from Detroit on the road. Now, Detroit looks to get even. The two teams continue rising up and look to play disruptors in their respective conferences. Both possess winning records today, and the Kings actually sit second in the entire Western Conference. Detroit sits in a tie for second in the Atlantic Division.
Whether either of these clubs keeps their playoff seat by year’s end remains in question. Yes, they both improved their rosters and look ready to leave the “rebuilding” stage. But, they each have teams beneath them in the standings that certainly would consider the year a massive disappointment if they didn’t find a way to climb higher.
Detroit needs more than Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Larkin posting points on a nightly basis. The Kings have a balanced attack but need more consistency in goal. If one of Jonathan Quick or Cal Petersen finds that next gear, they can take the crease by storm.
Prediction: Kings win 4-3 in OT
Winnipeg Jets vs Calgary Flames
Head-to-Head: Jets 0-0 Flames
Sitting atop the Central Division, the Jets look solid right now. Sitting on the outside looking in, the Flames do not. But, each of those positions is a function mostly of recency bias, given how early we are in the 2022-23 NHL season. Both teams ride a seven-game streak entering tonight’s contest, just in exact opposite fashions.
Take a look at each club’s record over their previous seven contests. Entering Saturday, the Jets look for an eighth consecutive win to extend their 7-0-0 streak. On the flip side, Calgary remains desperate for a win to end their 0-5-2 slide. Before the streaks, Winnipeg held a mediocre 2-3-0 record to start the year, while Calgary opened the season blazing to 5-1-0. Seven straight games with the same result, whether wins or losses, drastically changes a team’s positioning in the standings.
Fortunately for Calgary (and, perhaps, unfortunately for Winnipeg), at least 70 games remain to be played. Nazem Kadri picked up where he left off in Colorado, scoring 12 points already through 13 games. Calgary sure needs more from Jonathan Huberdeau though; he has one-third the point total that Matthew Tkachuk has in Florida so far this year. Sure, Calgary received plenty more than just Huberdeau in that trade, but those other pieces aren’t playing in Tkachuk’s old top-six spot like Huberdeau is. Tonight might not be the night to get Calgary’s offence back on track though. The best hockey player in Winnipeg remains, as usual, Connor Hellebuyck. His hot start (7-2-1, .938 save percentage, 1.98 goals against average, and two shutouts) deserves more attention league-wide.
Prediction: Jets win 4-1
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