Welcome to NHL Game Day Predictions! Each day, Last Word on Hockey will break down every game and give our prediction for who will win. This will also include a featured game that should be must-watch hockey. Today’s featured game is the Washington Capitals vs Chicago Blackhawks matchup.
NHL Predictions Including Washington Capitals vs Chicago Blackhawks
Vancouver Canucks vs New York Rangers
Head-to-Head: Canucks 0 – 0 Rangers
The games start early on Sunday, with the Vancouver Cancucks and New York Rangers facing off at 1:00 pm EST. This gives the Canucks a perfect opportunity to get back on the right track, after losing to the New Jersey Devils 1-0 on Saturday. New Jersey stifled Vancouver, awarding MacKenzie Blackwood the third shutout of his young career.
Vancouver’s offensive prowess has been very strong through their first seven games, despite their struggles Saturday. The offence has ultimately led Vancouver to a 4-3-0 record. Saturday’s loss ended a four-game win-streak, a win-streak that saw them outscore opponents 20-8.
The Canucks offence will look to have a hay-day against a struggling New York team. The Rangers have allowed the third-highest goals-against-per-game through their five games so far, allowing 19. This has been the team’s Achilles Heel so far, leading them to a bleak 2-3-0 start to the season. Legendary goalie Henrik Lundqvist has felt the bulk of these early-season struggles. He’s started three games and allowed 11 goals, leading to a disappointing 3.73 goals-against average.
Lundqvist is expected to be New York’s starter for the Sunday game, adding to the high hopes for the Vancouver team. If things go according to plan, this could give the Canucks a chance to embarrass another veteran goalie. They scored eight goals on Jonathan Quick during their home opener, taking advantage of Quick’s similar early-season struggles. While the Rangers have a promising roster, featuring an offence that’s met expectations and plenty of potential at both defence and goaltending. While all signs point to Vancouver taking the Rangers by storm, New York could very easily find their groove and surprise fans.
Prediction: Canucks win 7-3.
Montreal Canadiens vs Minnesota Wild
Head-to-Head: Canadiens 1 – 0 Wild
The Montreal Canadiens are coming off a dominant Saturday game against the St. Louis Blues, stomping the reigning Stanley Cup champions 5-2. All systems seem to be firing for the Canadiens. Their offence has been on fire, courtesy of strong starts from Jonathan Drouin and Brendan Gallagher. The added depth at offence has also helped significantly. Through only seven games, every forward on the team has recorded at least one point. While this isn’t a jaw-dropping statistic, it goes to show the tremendous depth the Canadiens roster boasts.
The Minnesota Wild have been the exact opposite. So much so that they’ve been featured in many NHL rumours lately, with many saying the team is heading for a “tank-a-thon”, with the hope of acquiring a top-three pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. The Wild have severely struggled to start the year, ranking dead-last in the league with a defiantly-bad record of 1-6-0. Three players are tied for most-points in Minnesota, with four points in seven games, a bleak lead considering the scoring-outburst that the league’s seen this October. Of these three players, none of them are forwards. Everything seems to be falling apart for the Wild and the dominant Canadiens are sure to thrive against them on Sunday, just like they did when the two faced off on Thursday, a game that saw Montreal win 4-0.
Prediction: Canadiens win 4-1.
Edmonton Oilers vs Winnipeg Jets
Head-to-Head: Oilers 0 – 0 Jets
The track of dominant teams facing struggling teams continues with the matchup between the Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets. The Oilers have dominated in the early-going, sitting comfortably in second place with a 7-1-0 record. This is in large part thanks to the incredible duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. McDavid leads the league in scoring with 17 points in only eight games. Draisaitl ranks second in the league with 16 points of his own. Despite pre-season rumblings that the two were going to be put on different lines this year, the Oilers couldn’t resist pairing the elite talents together. They’ve been the standouts of all eight games Edmonton has played so far, something that surely won’t change Sunday.
The Jets have allowed the most goals through their nine games so far, making easy prey for the Oilers, who have scored the second-most goals in the league. As long as Edmonton can shut down the Jets strong offence, Sunday’s game will be a breeze. This is easier said than done though. Winnipeg’s top-line has again shined bright, with Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine both tallying 12 points so far. While the strong defence and goaltending can likely handle the dominance posed by the Jets top-line, their depth could make for a fairly exciting game. Six Winnipeg players have scored six-or-more points, with plenty more adding plenty of points of their own. This strong offence could make for a very high-scoring game when matched against a truly impressive Oilers team.
Prediction: Oilers win 6-4.
Calgary Flames vs Anaheim Ducks
Head-to-Head: Flames 0 – 0 Ducks
Likely the closest game of the night, the clash of the Calgary Flames and Anaheim Ducks will surely be the lowest scoring of the night. The Flames have tempered expectations so far, setting a modest 4-3-0 record to start the year. Their reliance on stars like Matthew Tkachuk, Johnny Gaudreau, and Mark Giordano has continued. What hasn’t kept up from last season has been their scoring. The Flames currently rank 23rd in goals-per-game, with most of their scoring again being done by their top-six. This makes them fairly easy to shut down as long as the top-six can be stifled.
The same can be said for Anaheim, though. Like the Flames, their scoring is strongly conjugated among their top-six. Neither team has a player that’s averaged a point-per-game, with very similar scoring all throughout. What Anaheim has that Calgary doesn’t, though, is John Gibson. Calgary’s goaltending remains their weakest link, despite David Rittich‘s early-season success, while Anaheim boasts one of the best goalies in the league. Gibson has allowed a mere 11 goals through six starts this season, shaping out to a tremendous goals-against-average of 1.85. He also has a save percentage of .941 through those games.
Gibson’s tremendous play so far has given a mediocre Anaheim offence plenty of breathing room. He has been the biggest difference-maker on the Ducks through their first six games and will continue to do so as he suits up against the Flames on Sunday. In a game where two very similar teams go toe-to-toe, Gibson’s elite talent will be enough to turn the tides in Anaheim’s favour.
Prediction: Ducks win 2-1.
Washington Capitals vs Chicago Blackhawks
Head-to-Head: Blackhawks 0 – Capitals 0
The featured game of the night is the Washington Capitals vs Chicago Blackhawks matchup, a bout that’s sure to excite. The Capitals have had their usual strong start to the year, setting a modest 5-2-2 record. After a summer of very few changes, Washington looks like a very cohesive group. Little has changed from last year, with their quick-paced game helping to lift them over opponents. Their top-line also continues to dominate, with each player scoring at least eight points so far. What’s truly surprised, though, is John Carlson‘s burst of scoring. He has netted a dazzling 17 points through nine games, tying McDavid for league-lead.
A fairly unchanged Capitals team will surely have the upper-hand on the Blackhawks, who have looked out-of-sync. Corey Crawford, Sunday’s expected starter, has seemed the most disoriented. In three starts so far, he’s set a 1-2-0 record and allowed 10 goals. Captain Jonathan Toews is also struggling once again, with a mere two points so far. Yet, there’s still a sense of hope in Chicago. While the team hasn’t been able to find the net as much as some may have expected, the struggles feel short-lived. Chicago boasts a very high-scoring roster, on paper, and are waiting to find their groove. Despite their 2-2-1 record to start the year, there will be no counting out the Blackhawks on Sunday, against a Capitals team that ranks in the bottom-10 in goals-allowed.
It seems as though Sunday’s game could only end on one-of-two extremes. The high-tempo Capitals could dominate a bleak Chicago team or the Hawks will find their groove and run-up the score on a Capitals team that’s struggled defensively. Something’s gotta give for Chicago and it seems like it finally will Sunday.
Prediction: Washington wins 5-4.