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 facing off against the Winnipeg Jets.
Dallas Stars vs Nashville Predators
Head-to-Head: Stars 2 – 0 Predators
It’s the first game back from the Christmas break for the two teams. Jake Oettinger could draw the start in goal for the Stars after the layoff. However, that’s not been confirmed as of press time. The Dallas Stars own the second-best record in the West and is fourth in goals for and the penalty kill while fifth on the power play. Jason Robertson is trying to live up to that big contract that he signed and is doing that while leading in goals and points. The Stars have wins in three of their last five.
It’s been tougher sledding for the Nashville Predators, who sit six points off the second Wild Card spot in the West. Juuse Saros is the confirmed starter and will need to be on his game if the Predators want to start the holiday slate with a win. Nashville is 31st in goals scored and 29th on the power play. The Predators will have to improve both those numbers if they want to climb back into the race.
Bridgestone Arena is a tough place to play, but the Stars have limited the Predators to a goal in each of the first two meetings.
Prediction: Stars win 3-1.
Minnesota Wild vs Winnipeg Jets
Head-to-Head: Wild 1-0 Jets
Our featured matchup is a rematch of a 6-1 rout the Wild gave to the Jets on Nov. 23. It was arguably Minnesota’s best game they played and worst game Winnipeg played. Marc-Andre Fleury is the likely starter in this game for the Wild. Minnesota’s six-game winning run was snapped by the San Jose Sharks in the last outing before Christmas break started. The Wild’s defence had been pretty solid before the loss to the Sharks and is one of the best at goals allowed.
Connor Hellebuyck will get the call between the pipes for the Jets. They have losses in three of their last five. Winnipeg is three points behind Dallas for first in the Central Division. The Jets also hang their hat on solid defence. Winnipeg has a top five penalty kill and goals against so far this season. The Jets would love to wash the taste of that 6-1 loss to the Wild away in this one.
It’s tough to see how teams react after the layoff, but Winnipeg should bounce back.
Prediction: Jets win 3-2.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs St. Louis Blues
Head-to-Head: Leafs 0-0 Blues
It’s the first of two meetings in eight days for the Toronto Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues. Ilya Samsonov will start in this one for the Buds and he’s formed a solid partnership with Matt Murray. Toronto has wins in three of its last five, including two in a row. Offence like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander get the headlines. However, it’s been the Leafs defence of being second in goals allowed that have flown under the radar.
Jordan Binnington gets the start for the Blues and he’s run hot and cold this season. St. Louis had won four in row before losing two straight before the break. The Blues have the 29th-ranked penalty kill and that could pose a headache if they get lured into too many penalties. The Blues are second in the most penalty minutes given up and will have to stay out of the box.
The game will depend on if the Blue can stay disciplined. Stupid penalties may kill St. Louis in this one.
Predictions: Leafs win 4-1.
Be sure to catch more NHL Predictions in the coming days.