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 Pittsburgh Penguins and the New Jersey Devils.
NHL Predictions: Vegas Golden Knights vs Arizona Coyotes
Pittsburgh Penguins vs New Jersey Devils
Head-to-head: Penguins 0-1 Devils
The first game on our NHL Predictions is a Metropolitan Division showdown. These teams saw each other for the first time this season just over three weeks ago. The Devils claimed a 4-2 victory over the Penguins led by Jack Hughes‘ 19th and 20th goals of the year. Hughes is now on the verge of his 30th goal and has scored three times in the last five games. His 56 points lead the Devils, followed by Jesper Bratt 10 points behind. Bratt has a four-game point streak returning from New Jersey’s Pacific Division trip. The team went 3-0-1 in the four games and outscored their hosts 18-11.
The Penguins might be just the right team to give the Devils’ hot offence a challenge. Kris Letang didn’t play for Pittsburgh in the teams’ first meeting and remains the biggest remaining absence in Pittsburgh. He was placed on long-term injured reserve on Friday due to an injury originally sustained on December 28th. The Penguins used extra cap room to activate Jeff Petry who had been out since December 10th and Tristan Jarry who was injured during the Winter Classic. Both played that night and were crucial to the Penguins’ 4-1 win over the Ottowa Senators. Petry led the team with over 25 minutes of action, including appearances on both special teams; Jarry made 44 saves, his season-best.
The home team has hot hands and the visitors just saw major boosts on defence. Both projected goalies have save percentages well above the league average. Could see an unstoppable force versus an immovable object play out in New Jersey.
Prediction: Devils defeat Penguins 3-2.
Los Angeles Kings vs Chicago Blackhawks
Head-to-head: Kings 1-1 Blackhawks
Both these teams will play the second day of a back-to-back when they meet for the third time this season. Chicago will return home from St. Louis to a United Center where they have gone 9-15-2. The Blackhawks are the second-to-last team in the NHL but have a 5-5 record and a two-game win streak in their past 10 games prior to puck drop on Saturday. Tired legs will not help the Blackhawks’ special teams, which are both ranked in the bottom-10.
Los Angeles will depart for Chicago after facing the Nashville Predators. The Kings are in the top-three of their division but have lost two games coming into their six-game road trip. Pheonix Copley starts in Nashville, so the Blackhawks are likely to face Jonathan Quick. Quick has not played well in his starts this season the last time he had a save percentage above .900 was December 23rd. The Kings have the fourth-worst penalty kill in the League and allow more than 3 goals per game on average.
Prediction: Kings defeat Blackhawks 4-2.
San Jose Sharks vs Boston Bruins
Head-to-head: Sharks 0-1 Bruins
The Sharks are in the uncommon position of facing the last-place team and then the first-place team on back-to-back nights. The Sharks’ defense will be hard-pressed to hold off an offence that scores nearly four goals per game. They have allowed four or more goals in seven games this month and only have one win in that time. Erik Karlsson is having a career year with over 60 points, including eight in his past five games.
Boston Bruins: Embed from Getty Images
The League leaders doubled up the Sharks just over two weeks ago. The Bruins are 8-1-0 in January and await the Sharks with a four-game winning streak to protect. The Bruins will be down by at least one skater Sunday following two injuries taken against the New York Rangers. Center Thomas Nosek will be out for at least four weeks. Defenseman Brandon Carlo was also a concern but participated normally in practice Saturday and is expected to play by coach Jim Montgomery.
Prediction: Bruins defeat Sharks 4-1.
Winnipeg Jets vs Philadelphia Flyers
Head-to-head: Jets 0-0 Flyers
The next game on our NHL Predictions is interesting to watch. This is the first matchup for these teams this year. Winnipeg is the fourth team to be participating in back-to-back games today and is in the second half of a five-game road trip. The Jets were outscored 4-1 in consecutive games in Montreal and Toronto. Kyle Connor scored the lone goal in both games and has three goals and five total points in his last five games. Connor leads the team with 55 points. Josh Morrissey backs him up with 50 points, a career-high. Morrissey has recorded an assist in four consecutive games.
The Philadelphia Flyers are playing in their third back-to-back of the month and have won both prior contests this month. The Jets will be their strongest opponent in almost a week. The Flyers’ last three opponents are currently all in the bottom 10 of the leaguewide rankings, and four of their last 10 games have been against opponents out of a playoff spot. Philadelphia is 2-2 against teams higher in the standings this month, having beaten Washington twice but fallen to Boston and Toronto.
Prediction: Jets defeat Flyers 3-1.
Vegas Golden Knights vs Arizona Coyotes
Head-to-head: Golden Knights 2-0 Coyotes
Tonight’s featured matchup on our NHL Predictions is a Pacific Division matchup. Vegas will see the puck drop tonight less than 24 hours after hosting the Washington Capitals on Saturday. The Golden Knights are on the podium in the Pacific Division but have lost four of their seven games this month. Chandler Stephenson leads Vegas in points with 40 but has not marked the score sheet in five straight games prior to playing Washington. William Karlsson has led the team’s offence recently with three goals since January 12th. Jonathan Marchessault and Alex Pietrangelo are both within one point of recording 30 for the year.
The Coyotes will play two of the top-five teams in the West on consecutive nights. Arizona allowed three goals in the first period in Dallas after losing 4-0 to Washington on Thursday. In addition to losing nine of their last 10 games, the Coyotes recently lost a major performer: Lawson Crouse has been day-to-day with an upper-body injury since Thursday. Crouse is the third-highest scorer in Arizona and scored three assists in his last appearance when the Coyotes beat the Detroit Red Wings in a shootout.
Prediction: Golden Knights defeat Coyotes 3-0.
main Photo: Embed from Getty Images