Welcome back to NHL Predictions, where Last Word on Hockey provides insight into all of the day’s games. In Sunday, October 27th’s edition of NHL Predictions, we’ll take a look at seven games, split into two separate articles. This article features the day’s late games, including the featured game: the Anaheim Ducks vs Vegas Golden Knights. Be sure to tune in to the early-game NHL Predictions as well, which includes the featured Boston Bruins vs New York Rangers matchup.
Chicago Blackhawks vs Los Angeles Kings
Head-to-Head: Blackhawks 0 – 0 Kings
Starting off today’s NHL Predictions is a matchup that won’t jump of the page. Neither the Chicago Blackhawks or Los Angeles Kings have impressed many to start the year. Both teams rank at the bottom of their respective divisions, to many fans’ dismay.
The Chicago Blackhawks are seemingly awaiting a jolt. They have a promising offence that has proven to be surprisingly deep despite many unsuspecting names. While these names, including players like Drake Caggiula and David Kampf, have yet to stack up the points, they have plenty of potential to take over a game. The team’s defence also has a strong offensive-knack, with names like Erik Gustafsson and Duncan Keith. Not to mention the legendary duo manning their lineup: Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
For a team with so much offensive-potential, the Blackhawks haven’t managed much of anything. Through their first nine games, they rank at the very bottom of the league in goals-for. Kane leads the team with eight points, yet to reach the point-per-game average he was expected to be at. Toews is also disappointing, with a bleak two points so far. While the team may look like a kettle-pot waiting to burst from a distance, getting up close shows that there isn’t any threat coming from the Chicago roster.
Luckily, the Hawks will face off against an equally-poor Kings team. L.A. has allowed the second-most goals-against so far this season, with veteran goaltender Jonathan Quick looking absolutely horrendous. Quick has allowed 31 goals-against through seven stars so far, successfully garnering the highest goals-against-average of any goalie with more than three starts.
These polar opposites make the outcome hard to predict. While the terrible Hawks offence is expected to face-off against an equally-poor Quick, the mediocre Kings offence could easily get stifled by an equally-mediocre Corey Crawford. If any NHL game were to end in a zero-zero tie, this may be the one to do so. That’s not a possibility, though, and the Kings’ offence could easily pull ahead. Expect them to topple a struggling Chicago team.
Prediction: Kings win 2-1.
San Jose Sharks vs Ottawa Senators
Head-to-Head: Sharks 0 – 0 Senators
The excitement slightly climbs with the next game on the lineup. The San Jose Sharks have seemingly embraced mediocrity this season. They have a 4-6-1 record to start the year, with not much to write home about. They rank 22nd in the league in goals-for and 24th in goals-allowed, highlighting their ineffective start to the year.
Their poor goals-for totals come as a bit of a surprise, though, considering they have seven players with at least six points. This included the fan-favourite Patrick Marleau, who has tallied six points in seven games. This goes to show how lacking the rest of their lineup is, though, with 11 skaters tallying one-or-fewer points so far this year.
The Ottawa Senators don’t have much to boast about either. Despite a few flashes of solid play, they still rank last in the Eastern Conference with an abysmal 2-7-1 record. This is in large part due to a struggling offence. Ottawa has managed only 24 goals through their first 10 games, good for 28th in the league in scoring. Sophomores Colin White and Brady Tkachuk have both failed to find the spark that made them great last season. Tkachuk has three points so far, while White has two.
The Sharks will likely have just enough offence to beat-out a weak Ottawa team, with stars like Brent Burns and Tomas Hertl being the difference makers. The game should stay fairly low-scoring and close, though.
Prediction: Sharks win 3-2.
Philadelphia Flyers vs New York Islanders
Head-to-Head: Flyers 0 – 0 Islanders
This will be a much more exciting matchup than the two aforementioned. Both the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Islanders are surprising the league early. This is especially true for the Islanders who currently rank third in the Metropolitan Division. They’ve done this with a 7-3-0 record, on the back of Thomas Greiss‘ promising start to the year.
Greiss has allowed 12 goals through six appearances and five starts. He’s been fairly overshadowed throughout his career but is taking his starting role in stride. The Islanders have also boasted a very even-spread of scoring. Small names like Devon Toews and Anthony Beauvillier are living up to the fans’ hopes, scoring seven and six points respectively through 10 games.
Semyon Varlamov has matched Greiss’ strong play, allowing a mere 11 goals through five games and 140 shots-against. He is expected to start for the team on Sunday. The Islanders will surely struggle against an admirable Flyers roster but New York has looked too strong to beat thus far. As long as Varlamov can hold his own once more, the Islanders offence is sure to produce. The Flyers have been tremendous defensively, particularly in net, allowing the fifth-fewest goals-against all season but could stutter in Sunday’s matchup.
Prediction: Islanders win 4-2.
Vegas Golden Knights vs Anaheim Ducks
Head-to-Head: Golden Knights 0 – 0 Ducks
Vegas has been on an absolute tear to start the year. New additions Mark Stone and Cody Glass have bolstered the team’s group of forwards. Reilly Smith has also established himself, tallying nine points and seven goals through 12 games. Combined with the usual strong play from William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, and Marc-Andre Fleury, the Golden Knights are shaping up to again be a dominant force in the Western Conference.
Yet, the Ducks have matched the Golden Knights so far. Both teams have a 7-5-0 record so far. This is a fairly large surprise from Anaheim, as most fans expected the team to still be in the midst of a rebuild this year. Thanks to John Gibson‘s strong play, the Ducks have had very little to worry about in their own end. In fact, they rank fifth in goals-against, largely thanks to Gibson’s brick-wall presence in net.
The Ducks will be missing two key components in Sunday’s bout, though. Josh Manson and Ondrej Kase are both out with injury. Kase’s absence will leave the team without a strong supporting role on offence but Manson’s void is what will truly hurt the team. He has been a true spark in the team’s own end, providing plenty of support for Gibson. Without him, the dominant Vegas offence could have the upper-hand on Anaheim. Though, with the elite goaltenders Fleury and Gibson going head-to-head, there’s no telling what the outcome could be.
Prediction: Golden Knights win 5-2.