NHL Predictions: January 23 Including Florida Panthers vs New York Rangers

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 Florida Panthers vs the New York Rangers.

NHL Predictions: Including Florida Panthers vs New York Rangers

Florida Panthers vs New York Rangers 

Head-to-head: Panthers 0-1 Rangers 

Our featured NHL predictions game will see the New York Rangers and the Florida Panthers face off in the second of their three meetings this season. The Rangers will be looking to rebound off of a 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins, and the Panthers are trying to extend their win streak to three in a row after defeating both the Minnesota Wild and the Montreal Canadiens last week. 

The most significant difference in this game will be goaltending. The Rangers have reigning Vezina Trophy champion Igor Shesterkin in net, who is following up his Vezina season with another respectable performance, currently tenth in the league in GAA (2.45). Goaltending for the Panthers will be slightly more uncertain, with Sergei Bobrovsky out with a lower-body injury. Expect the Panthers to play Alex Lyon, who was recently recalled from the AHL. With Spencer Knight in the AHL on a conditioning stint after being activated off of IR, all eyes will be on Lyon to see how he reacts to playing in the big leagues. 

The last time these two teams played, the Rangers pulled out a 5-3 win, with Mika Zibanejad scoring twice. At the time, the Panthers had lost five of their last six games and were struggling to find their game. They’ve been much better since then, winning four of their last five games and losing only four games in January. The Rangers will be facing a more confident Panthers team, but the bonus of Shesterkin in the net should still put the Rangers on top. 

Prediction: Rangers win 3-2 
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New York Islanders vs Toronto Maple Leafs 

Head-to-head: Islanders 1-0 Maple Leafs 

The New York Islanders will take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second game of their season series. The first meeting between the clubs this season ended in overtime, with Anthony Beauvillier finding the back of the net to win it for the Islanders. With both teams coming off losses, this game should be a close battle. 

The stars of the Islanders have struggled this season, and a 5-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes just showed the issues they’ve had finding offence. It took Mathew Barzal 19 games to find the back of the net, and he’s continued to have problems since then, with only eleven goals on the season. Brock Nelson, Anders Lee, and Zach Parise have picked up the slack, but they will need their stars to shine if they want to beat the Leafs. 

Toronto’s last game ended in overtime, with the Montreal Canadiens pulling out a 3-2 win. Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner have continued to drive the attack for the Maple Leafs, both contributing an assist in the loss. Matthews has four goals in his last five games, and Marner has six points in his last five. In this case, the star power of the Leafs should dominate that of the Islanders. 

Prediction: Toronto wins 5-2  

Buffalo Sabres vs Dallas Stars 

Head-to-head: Sabres 0-0 Stars 

In one of the more interesting games of our NHL predictions, the Buffalo Sabres will head south to take on the Dallas Stars, who currently lead the Central Divison. Dallas will want a win in the second game of an eight-game homestand, and Buffalo looks to kick off a four-game road trip and extend their win streak to three. 

Buffalo sits further back in the standings, but have been a fun team to root for this season, and have won some surprise games on the back of Tage Thompson’s career season. The forward has 32 goals so far and has been the leader of an unexpectedly high-powered offence for the Sabres. They’re currently second in the league in goals for, meaning they’ll be relying on their big names in Thompson, Alex Tuch, and Rasmus Dahlin to generate offence and push them to a win. 

However, Dallas plays a shutdown defence in head coach Pete Deboer’s typical style. They’ve allowed the sixth-fewest goals in the league, and are one of the best at limiting zone entries, forcing opponents to play a slower game. They also have three shutouts in the last four games. Dallas will likely be able to keep Buffalo’s stars contained, leading to an easy victory.

Prediction: Dallas wins 3-1 

Columbus Blue Jackets vs Calgary Flames 

Head-to-head: Blue Jackets 1-0 Flames 

In their second and final meeting of the season, the Columbus Blue Jackets will head north to take on the Calgary Flames. In their last meeting, the Blue Jackets won 3-1, with goals coming from Patrik Laine, Eric Robinson, and Sean Kuraly. Both teams are coming off of a win, with the Blue Jackets beating the San Jose Sharks 5-3 and the Flames winning 6-3 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

Johnny Gaudreau will return to Calgary for the first time since his blockbuster trade in the off-season, so look for him to make an impact in a true revenge game. Gaudreau currently leads the Blue Jackets in goals with 13, and he will want to add another tally to that number. 

The Flames are spreading the wealth in goals right now, with six different players lighting the lamp against Tampa Bay. If they can generate scoring chances from every line, the depth of the Blue Jackets won’t be enough to keep up. 

Prediction: Flames win 2-1
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