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 Los Angeles Kings vs Calgary Flames.
NHL Predictions: Los Angeles Kings vs Calgary Flames
New York Islanders vs Ottawa Senators
Head-to-Head: Islanders 0-0 Senators
There sure is something about New York teams and goaltenders. Last season Igor Shesterkin‘s historical heroics propelled an average Rangers squad to the conference finals. This year it’s Ilya Sorokin’s turn. Ottawa and New York are very similar in what chances they create and give up. Although both are atop the league in goal scoring, they’re among the bottom of the league in the quality and quantity of chances against. One just so happens to have a star goalie and the other does not. Mathew Barzal will be someone to watch in this matchup during his goalless drought to start the season. It’s not for the lack of trying, the generation is there, but the finishing and luck are not. Facing a hot goalie will require the Senators to go for both quantity and quality to wear Sorokin down. With the Islanders being a team with very active defensemen it will be important for tight point coverage. The Islanders have kicked off the season on a high note – don’t expect them to lose this matchup.
Islanders win 4-2
Los Angeles Kings vs Calgary Flames
Head-to-Head: Kings 0-0 Flames
Coming off a much-needed win after a seven-game winless streak, the Calgary Flames will look to continue red hot LA Kings. Calgary and LA are both teams that have been struck by below-average goaltending. A very impressive point in the Kings’ performance this year has been their ability to close out one-goal games. All four of their wins in their current four-game win streak have been by one goal. In Calgary, four of their past five games have been decided by one goal. The reason the Kings have fared better from their below-average goaltending is their defensive play. LA is able to limit chances against with most coming from the point which is oftentimes low danger. Calgary is allowing teams to get shots off below the hash marks which is not something a team wants to do.
On offence, the Flames are last in the league when it comes to shot quality but third in shots per game. LA pushes for quality and quantity which has led to them being a top-10 offensive team. Kevin Fiala has dominated since the start of the season leading the team in points and assists. Being two very similar teams this should be a very tight game with goaltending being the final decision.
Kings win 2-1
Carolina Hurricanes vs Chicago Blackhawks
Head-to-Head: Hurricanes 0-0 Blackhawks
The Chicago Blackhawks have been relatively decent this year compared to expectations. Although all signs point to regression for Chicago, all signs point to even better results from the Carolina Hurricanes. Like many teams, goaltending has not been their strong suit. Even while being arguably the best defensive team in the league, they’ve been disappointed by Frederik Andersen who currently has a career-low .891 save percentage. Even as they sit third in the Eastern Conference, Carolina has not been scoring at the same rate they generate offence. Averaging 3.4 expected goals per game, they’re scoring 2.7 goals per game. That is bound to catch up one of these days. However, Carolina is still extremely dominant from all areas of the ice. Their speed is something that not many teams can slow down. Chicago will need some magic goaltending if they want to pull a win off in this one. With a win, the Blackhawks would jump into a three-way tie for third. A Carolina win would propel them into second in the Metropolitan division.
Hurricanes win 3-1
St. Louis Blues vs Colorado Avalanche
Head-to-Head: Blues 0-0 Avalanche
Are the St. Louis Blues in the Connor Bedard sweepstakes? They are right now anyway. The Colorado Avalanche, on the other hand, is injury-stricken but still continuing last year’s dominance. Alexandar Georgiev has been a bright spot for them shining in his new starting position. The Blues have a goalie that’s maybe not focused primarily on hockey in Jordan Binnington. Many have said the Blues need a guy like Nick Ritchie, but that is far from what they need to get back in the race. The Blues are not only one of the worst teams defensively, they are even worse offensively. They are where they are in the standings for a reason. The Avalanche almost have the same problem except they put on a defensive masterclass consistently. In Colorado’s case, it’s expected when you look at their stack of injuries. St Louis will have to work some magic if they want to score at all vs Colorado.
Avalanche win 3-0