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 between the New York Rangers and the Calgary Flames. Be sure to check out our other NHL Predictions for Saturday.
Philadelphia Flyers vs Vancouver Canucks
Head-to-Head: Flyers 1-0 Canucks
Our first NHL Predictions game of this set starts with the final meeting of the season between the Flyers and Canucks. The Flyers are coming off an embarrassing loss to the Seattle Kraken. Head coach John Tortorella was visibly frustrated in the press conference while answering essentially no questions. It is rough times right now in Philly. Losers of four in five games, the Flyers are already well out of the playoff picture and now playing for pride. Led by Travis Konecny in points and goals, they should have an easier time filling the net this game. But will it be enough?
The Canucks are also losers of four in five while allowing a plethora of goals. They have allowed at least four in each of those five games, and are surrendering a staggering 4.06 goals per game for the season. The Canucks have already begun the selling process as they look toward the draft. Yet they are a fun team to watch offensively, led by Elias Pettersson with 66 points and 25 goals. Young blue liner Quinn Hughes leads the assists category and has tallied six helpers in the last five. Four of those have been on the power play, where Vancouver plays it’s best hockey.
This smells like a “take the over” game. Which means it will be very tight. Flyers are just a little better today.
Prediction: Flyers win 2-1
New York Rangers vs Calgary Flames
Head-to-Head: Rangers 1-0 Flames
Our featured NHL Predictions game is the final meeting between the Rangers and the Flames. New York is on fire right now. Since the blockbuster trade that brought Vladimir Tarasenko to the Big Apple, the Rangers have not lost, and they score in bunches. It is not him who is doing the scoring though. What that did was balance out the offence and the whole lineup has felt the effects. A come from behind victory in the shootout last night shows this team does not get rattled and should be taken seriously as a playoff contender. Mika Zibanejad has hit the 30 goal mark, leading the way, while Artemi Panarin is leading the team in assists and points. They should have another good one today.
The Flames are losers of four of five games (1-2-2) and have started to lose pace in the Pacific Division race. Yet, with the mediocrity of the Western Conference, they find themselves just two points out of the second wild card. They are going to need to figure it out quickly though. Leading goal scorer Tyler Toffoli will need to have a big game today if the Flames get past the Rangers. He did tally in the first meeting, and when he goes so does the team. In their 25 wins this season, he has 32 points. In their 30 losses, he only has 16.
The Rangers will be tired after a long game last night. The Flames played them tough earlier this season, and get revenge.
Prediction: Flames win 5-4 in OT
Arizona Coyotes vs Los Angeles Kings
Head-to-Head: Coyotes 1-1 Kings
This will be the final of three meetings between these two. The Kings find themselves just a single point out of first in the Pacific Division and are winners of three straight. Leading goal scorer Adrian Kempe has been unreal during the winning streak, with seven goals and an assist. But he has struggled against the Coyotes this season with just a single assist in the two prior games. Arizona will need to keep him in check in this one.
The Coyotes meanwhile are far out of the playoff picture but are playing well with points in their last five games (3-0-2). Young netminder Connor Ingram is coming off the game of his career, a 47 save performance for his first career shutout. Karel Vejmelka is slated for the start in this one though. He has won four of his last five outings however, and aside from a poor showing against the St. Louis Blues, has allowed just five goals on 135 shots in the victories.
The home team has won both meetings. That trend continues in a goalie duel.
Prediction: Kings win 2-1
Buffalo Sabres vs San Jose Sharks
Head-to-Head: Sabres 1-0 Sharks
The final of two games between these teams bring the Sabres to the Shark Tank in this NHL Prediction matchup. Buffalo followed a five game winning streak with a four game losing streak where they could not score. For a team that averages 3.70 goals per game, they failed to score more than two during the losses. A bounce back game against the lowly Anaheim Ducks provided seven goals, so perhaps that is fixed. Leading goal scorer Tage Thompson continues to be a revalation. He has 36 goals so far and can potentially be a 50 goal man. He also loves playing on the road, with more than half of his goals coming away from home. The playoffs are pretty near out of the question, but the future looks bright with this kid.
The Sharks are also looking toward next season. Losers of three in their last five games, it has been all about self production. If they score two or more, they have won. But three games produced a single tally. The incredible bounce back year for Erik Karlsson continues as he leads the team in points from the blue line with 73 in 56 games. Timo Meier leads the squad in goals with 31, who is also having a great follow up campaign to his career year in 2021-22.
The Sharks are abysmal at home, with only five of their 17 wins coming in San Jose. The trend continues as Thompson goes off.
Prediction: Sabres win 5-2
Detroit Red Wings vs Seattle Kraken
Head-to-Head: Red Wings 0-0 Kraken
This NHL Predictions game will be the first between these two teams this season. The Wings are hanging on to hope in a tightly contested Eastern Conference wildcard race. They are helping their cause as of late, winners in five straight. Leading scorer Dylan Larkin has been on beast mode during the streak. On a personal six game point streak, he has six goals and five assists during the team winning streak. Many of those points have been on the power play where Detroit has figured things out and climbed to 21.7% with the man advantage. That could be troublesome for the Kraken.
Seattle is in a tight race themselves, sitting just two points out of first in the Pacific Division, but only five points up on the second wild card. Losers of three in five (2-2-1) has tightened the standings even more. Led by Jared McCann with 26 goals and Jordan Eberle in points with 42, Seattle does not have a problem with scoring. It is a very balanced attack, with ten different double digit goal scorers thus far. The problem has been in net, but that has improved dramatically lately. Philipp Grubauer and Martin Jones have been splitting starts, but expect Grubauer to start getting more nods as his numbers have been remarkably better the last month.
This one should be fun. It comes down to special teams. The newly dangerous Detroit power play will overwhelm the 71.6% penalty kill of the Kraken.
Prediction: Red Wings win 5-3
Tampa Bay Lightning vs Vegas Golden Knights
Head-to-Head: Lightning 0-0 Golden Knights
And finally, our last NHL Predictions on a very busy Saturday features the first game between these two powerhouse teams. The Lightning come into this contest winners of three in five. Essentially already playing for home ice against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round, they should be looking at this one as a great test. Leading goal scorer Brayden Point has been a little cold the last three games, so look for him to get going today. Expect Andrei Vasilevskiy in net, who should give Vegas a tough time getting on the board.
Vegas comes into this game riding a four game winning streak and leading the Pacific Division. It has been an offensive onslaught for the Knights with 19 combined goals in those four games. That is very welcome for a team that has struggled to score at times. Another team with ten double-digit goal scorers, yet no players have hit 20 yet. Reilly Smith looks to be the first to get there, sitting with 19. He may need to do that today to get Vegas past a very tough Tampa team.
Both teams are stingy defensively. Safe bet to take the under here. Tampa is going to be hungry after not scoring a goal on 47 shots their last outing. Can’t stop them two games in a row.
Prediction: Lightning win 3-2
Photo Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports