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 Washington Capitals vs New York Rangers. Be sure to check out our other NHL predictions for today.
NHL Predictions: Washington Capitals vs New York Rangers
Montreal Canadiens vs Pittsburgh Penguins
Head-to-Head: Canadiens 2 – 0
Our first game of the NHL predictions sees the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins meeting for their third and final time this season. This game has a completely different meaning to these teams. Pittsburgh is coming off a thrilling overtime victory over the New York Rangers. They are pushing for a wild card spot in the playoffs in the season’s final run. Every remaining game for the Penguins is crucial. Goaltender Tristan Jarry finding consistency and staying healthy will largely factor into Pittsburgh’s play down the stretch. They are riding a four-game point streak and looking to extend their winning streak to three.
Meanwhile, the Canadiens find themselves playing for pride and experience while also hoping to have the best chance possible to draft Connor Bedard. Montreal sits second from the bottom of the Eastern Conference with 58 points. Their latest loss, an eight to four goal-scoring explosion against the Colorado Avalanche, is their seventh loss in a row. The injury bug has been a story for them all season too. With all of the injuries the Canadiens picked up veteran forward Chris Tierney and he has been decent for the young team. Nick Suzuki leads the team in points with 51 this season.
Prediction: Penguins win 3-1
Tampa Bay Lightning vs New Jersey Devils
Head-to-Head: Lightning 0-0 Devils
Our next game of the NHL predictions is the first of back-to-back set between the Tampa Bay Lightning and New Jersey Devils. This is the first time these teams have met this season. The Lightning have had some streaky play as of late. Notably, in a game against the Buffalo Sabres on March 4, 2023, coach Jon Cooper sat the top line of Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov for the entire third period. The Lightning followed that game with a six to zero loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. Most recently they lost three to two to the Winnipeg Jets. While their latest results have been a mixed bag, their offensive firepower still shows in their power play effectiveness at 25.6%. This is good enough for third in the league. Currently sitting at third in the Atlantic Division, the Lightning look to find consistency.
The Devils enter this game on a three-game winning streak and following a big shutout victory over the Carolina Hurricanes pulling them even for the Metropolitan Division lead. Vitek Vanecek stopped every shot he saw in that game. While his numbers have cooled since his hot start, he is still providing a solid backstop to the Devils. Jack Hughes has continued his surging season with the team leading 37 goals and 79 points, including a goal and two assists against the Hurricanes. The speedy Devils are second in the league for xG% at 56.1% and goal differential at 58. They will look to keep pushing for the division lead.
Prediction: Devils win 5-2
Las Vegas Golden Knights vs Philadelphia Flyers
Head-to-Head: Golden Knights 1-0
The next game of our NHL predictions sees the Western Conference leading Las Vegas Golden Knights facing off against the Philadelphia Flyers. Las Vegas currently leads the Western Conference with 88 points and is riding a three-game winning streak. Trade deadline acquisition goaltender Jonathan Quick has been outstanding for the Golden Knights, winning all three of his starts including a shutout victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. During that span he has a 1.97 GAA and a .939 SV%. Jiri Patera won his first NHL game backstopping the Golden Knights in their latest victory over the St. Louis Blues. Quick will likely get the start in this one.
The Philadelphia Flyers continue their season really looking forward to next year. They have 59 points and sit near the bottom of the Eastern Conference. They lost their last three games by a combined score of 11 to three. Their advanced statistics don’t look much better either as they sit in the bottom ten in the league in xG% with 45.17%. Travis Konecney leads the Flyers with 27 goals and 54 points. While not completely embracing a full rebuild, the Flyers certainly are looking at building positives this year and at least re-tooling over the summer. Their remaining games will serve as a showcase for some players and learning points for others with battles for pride on the line.
Prediction: Golden Knights win 3-0
Winnipeg Jets vs Carolina Hurricanes
Head-to-Head: Jets 1-0
Our next game of the NHL predictions is the Winnipeg Jets against the Carolina Hurricanes. Winnipeg is riding a two-game winning streak entering this contest and has 79 points. It has been a battle for the Jets this season jockeying for playoff position with the Colorado Avalanche. Newcomer Nino Niederreiter has been playing very well for the Jets and has scored three goals and three assists in seven games with them. Meanwhile, Kyle Connor leads the team with 73 points while defenceman Josh Morrisey has put together a nice season with 67 points. In most statistics this season, Winnipeg sits at the middle of the pack amongst the league. The Jets have a lot to play for as every game down the final stretch will be vital in their push for the playoffs.
The Carolina Hurricanes are currently tied with the New Jersey Devils for the Metropolitan Division lead. They are first in the league for xG% at 58.61% and xG differential with 70.41. However, the Hurricanes have struggled to score as of late. They most recently lost to Las Vegas and New Jersey back-to-back by a combined score of seven to zero. Following a trade deadline that saw the Hurricanes make less moves to address goal scoring than most likely thought they would, the Hurricanes -26.73 goals for above expected this season was really shown in their last two games.
It was also announced that Andrei Svechnikov will be out indefinitely with a knee injury so that does not help the Hurricanes. While comfortably in a playoff spot, the Hurricanes look to figure out how to find the net and finish the season on a high note to secure first place in the Metropolitan Division.
Prediction: Jets win 2-1
Washington Capitals vs New York Rangers
Head-to-Head: Capitals 2-0
Our featured game in our NHL predictions is a Metropolitan Division matchup between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers. While still not completely out of the playoff picture, the Capitals decided to sell at the trade deadline and gather future assets. Injuries have not helped the aging Capitals this season. However, the Capitals are only five points out of the final wild card spot with a game in hand behind the New York Islanders. The Capitals last game was a big five to one victory over the Islanders. While their power play has historically been a bright spot, this year they sit at 20th in the league. Even as the team makes a playoff push, the big story for the Capitals continues to be Alex Ovechkin‘s pursuit of the goal scoring title.
The New York Rangers are sitting comfortably in third in the Metropolitan Division. Following an exciting trade deadline, the Rangers have had some ups and downs. Most recently, the Rangers are riding a three-game point streak. They have a record of 2-1-1 following the trade deadline. The Rangers power play continues to be fairly strong as they sit in the top ten of the league in that regard. Artemi Panarin leads the team with 73 points while trade deadline acquisition Patrick Kane has two goals and one assist in five games. The Rangers will continue to rely heavily on the play of Igor Shesterkin in net as the look to make a final push into the playoffs.
Prediction: Capitals win 3-2 in overtime.
Main Photo: Thomas Salus-USA TODAY Sports