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 Calgary Flames and the Ottawa Senators.
NHL Predictions: Ottawa Senators vs Calgary Flames
Ottawa Senators vs Calgary Flames
Head to Head: Senators 1 – 0 Flames
Our featured matchup on our NHL Predictions is a Canadian affair. One of the more intriguing matchups of the Sunday slate sees two teams fighting for their playoff lives. For the Calgary Flames, they need to start to gel as a group. Over their last eight games, they have a poor 2-4-2 record. They are currently outside of the playoffs, and this current tough stretch could not have come at a worse time. Moreover, the club made no major deals at the deadline, which was hoped to be seen as confidence in the group they had. However, the players need to be better and play as a unit. One player having a tough season is Jonathan Huberdeau with 42 points on the year. Last season, with the Florida Panthers, he set the record for assists by a left winger at 85 and totaled 115 points. One player having a solid season is Tyler Toffoli who has chipped in with 26 goals and 29 assists in 66 games.
Turning to the Ottawa Senators, they look to push for a playoff spot on the back of young Mads Sogaard. The reason is injuries to their top goalie tandem of Cam Talbot and Anton Forsberg. For Sogaard, after a big win in Seattle on Thursday, and playing Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks, he will need rest. Therefore, look for backup Kevin Mandolese to likely get the start Sunday against the Flames. This will only be Mandolese’s third career start, and the Sens will need to put in a strong defensive effort in front of him. Since acquiring Jakob Chychrun at the deadline, he has looked strong and will help in keeping the puck out of the net. Offensively, Tim Stutzle continues to be hot lately and is well on pace for his first career PPG season.
Prediction: Senators win 4-3.
Minnesota Wild vs Arizona Coyotes
Head to Head: Wild 2 – 1 Coyotes
Our next game on the NHL Predictions is a Central Division showdown. The Wild come into this matchup red-hot. Their hot play as of late has them neck and neck for the Central Division crown with the Dallas Stars. The general thought is this should be an easy victory for the Wild against the lowly Arizona Coyotes. However, the Wild have to adjust to life without their star forward Kirill Kaprizov. This will make their stretch drive all the daunting of a task. On the bright side, has been the play of their stellar goaltender tandem. In particular, off-season trade acquisition Filip Gustavsson. He supports an incredible 17-8-4 record with a 1.91 GAA and .935 SV%. Either that or the other option is Marc-Andre Fleury a veteran with the hardware to back it up.
For the Arizona Coyotes, this is just a matter of getting through the season. The Coyotes have found themselves near the bottom of the table for a while. This means they are a part of the Connor Bedard – Adam Fantilli sweepstakes. However, they do have some positive individual performances to draw from this season. Clayton Keller continues to be a consistent producer. He is currently a PPG player this year, and if that continues, it would be a career-high. In addition, their prospect Dylan Guenther shone for Team Canada at the World Junior tournament. He had tallied 15 points in 33 games for the Coyotes before heading back to junior with the Seattle Thunderbirds. He has been a consistent performer down there as well. With Arizona playing loose these days, they can be tough to play against, so Minnesota needs to bring their A-game.
Prediction: Wild win 3-2.
Nashville Predators vs Anaheim Ducks
Head to Head: Predators 2 – 0 Ducks
Our next game on the NHL Predictions lies out west. Up to this point in the season series, Nashville has handled the Ducks. This is not unexpected due to the potential for very stingy goaltending with Juuse Saros. Even though Nashville has somewhat fallen out of the playoff race, they are still a tough team to play against. One player to watch for is Luke Evangelista. He has put up respectable numbers in the AHL with the Milwaukee Admirals recording 41 points in 49 games. Since his call-up, he has been scoring at nearly a point a game clip.
The Anaheim Ducks are another franchise on the rebuild, however, are 5-2-3 in their last ten. Again, these teams playing with nothing to lose, and talented young players, can surprise even the best teams this time of year. Trevor Zegras has only failed to record a point in seven games since the New Year. He has 55 points in 66 games this year and developing into a complete player. The Ducks have struggled as a team. They are near the bottom of the league in goals for and goals against. Furthermore, their starting goalie, veteran John Gibson, has a .904 SV%, not competitive numbers for the NHL level.
Prediction: Predators win 2-1
Main Photo: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports