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 Carolina Hurricanes vs New Jersey Devils.
Vegas Golden Knights vs. St. Louis Blues
Head-to-Head: Knights 1-1 Blues
Our first game on the NHL Predictions is between to western conference teams. Both teams enter tonight’s game having won their previous two match-ups, now facing off against each other for the first time since December (and for the last time this season). Last night, Jonathan Quick picked up his first shutout as a Golden Knight in his 33-save performance in a 4-0 win against the Carolina Hurricanes. Jordan Kyrou of the Blues netted a hat-trick, including two in the third period, in the Blues win over the Blue Jackets last night. For the Blues, high-end talent up top will be the key to accepting their role as spoilers to teams such as the Golden Knights looking to maintain and bolster their positions. However, the Golden Knights are considerably equipped to deal with this talent imbalance, with their 2.45 expected goals against per 60 ranking 8th league-wide.
With travel fairly normalized, as both teams travel to Missouri, the Knights have a considerable advantage in this match-up, but St. Louis should not fade away.
Prediction: Golden Knights 3-1
Carolina Hurricanes vs New Jersey Devils
Head-to-Head: Hurricanes 2-1 Devils
Our next game on the NHL Predictions is a crucial division showdown. The number two and number three ranked teams in the league face off at the Prudential Center directly competing for the Metropolitan Division lead. As of the morning of March 12, both Carolina and New Jersey have won a total of 43 games, with the former ahead by two points accumulated by overtime losses. Carolina would face the Penguins in the first round if the playoffs started today, while New Jersey would face the Rangers.
In terms of the game itself, there should be no shortage of dynamic attacking play; New Jersey is likely Carolina’s biggest defensive challenge this season. Powered primarily through Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt, and more recently, Timo Meier (by acquisition) and Dawson Mercer (by an incredible, near two-point-per-game stretch), the Devils’ zone entry prowess will be directly tested against the zone-defence stranglers in the Hurricanes. Each of the last two games between these Metropolitan Division powerhouses has featured strong finishing; New Jersey has potted a shooting percentage of 17.86 percent and 22.72 percent in their most recent games against the Hurricanes, while the Canes scored four goals in two of the three matchups.
Playing for the Metropolitan Division lead, the Devils and Hurricanes should bring no shortage of electric play and a quick-developing mode of offence.
Prediction: Devils 4-3
Winnipeg Jets vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Head-to-Head: Jets 1-0 Lightning
Our final game on the NHL Predictions is between two playoff calibre teams. Winnipeg and Tampa each enter this game off of wins last night, but it is the Jets who take the trip down on the second half of a back-to-back set. Each point the Jets can earn is massively for shaking off the Predators and Flames in the Western Conference wild-card standings (who are both now six points behind the Jets). Meanwhile, the Lightning lead for third in the division is fairly safe as of today, ahead of their fellow Floridian team by 11 points, but looking to rebound from recent poor play and push to overtake Toronto within the division.
In terms of notable or interesting story-lines, Mark Scheifele for Winnipeg is two goals away from reaching the 40-goal mark for the first time in his career, while Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point continue to shine with 95 points (69 assists in 66 games most notably) and 79 points (43 goals, a new career high by production) each.
This game should provide a highly competitive factor; for tonight, we expect the Lightning to overtake Winnipeg at their home.
Prediction: Lightning 4-2
Main Photo: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports