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 early games, including the featured game: the Boston Bruins vs New York Rangers. Be sure to tune in to the late-game NHL Predictions as well, which includes the featured Anaheim Ducks vs Vegas Golden Knights matchup.
Florida Panthers vs Edmonton Oilers
Head-to-Head: Panthers 0 – 0 Oilers
The Edmonton Oilers have been in an emphatic slump over the past few days. They are coming back to Earth after a red-hot start to the year. A 2-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings sparked this downward slide, ending Edmonton’s seven-game win streak that they opened their season with. Following their loss to Detroit, the Oilers just barely topped the Winnipeg Jets in their next game, winning 1-0 in a shootout. They then did the impossible: a team featuring superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl was shutout by the league-worst Minnesota Wild. The Wild beat Edmonton 3-0 last week, limiting the Oilers to only 25 shots.
Edmonton was able to regain some ground when they toppled the strong Washington Capitals in overtime, winning 4-3. That game saw both McDavid and Draisaitl score, the latter netting a pair, effectively breathing life back into the team. Now, the Oilers have the perfect opportunity to rekindle their hot-start against a struggling Florida Panthers team. The Panthers rank 25th in goals-against and 20th in hits-per-game. Both of these stats should excite the Oilers offence, a bunch that has relied almost solely on their speed and elite goal-scoring thus far. With a fairly lacking, non-intrusive, Florida defence in the way, the Oilers could be in shape for a return to form in Sunday’s bout.
All-in-all, while the Panthers have been admirable this year, with a 4-2-4 record so far, the offensively-minded Oilers should have no trouble toppling the team. Edmonton’s potential for success is only heightened by their strong defence and goaltending, which ranks in the top-10 in goals-allowed so far.
Prediction: Oilers win 4-1
St. Louis Blues vs Detroit Red Wings
Head-to-Head: Blues 0 – 0 Wings
The St. Louis Blues had a dramatic 3-0 loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday but have still looked much improved from their early-season selves. After a handful of poor performances, the Blues are looking much more like the team that won the Stanley Cup less than a year ago. That is, perhaps an improved version. The addition of Marc Savard as an assistant coach has clearly fueled the Blues. This summer, Savard noted how he was going to focus the bulk of his efforts on revamping the team’s abysmal power-play. So far, he has done just that. The Blues have the tenth-highest power-play percentage this season, with eight goals on 35 chances. While this can be improved on, it is a notable step up from the poor special teams that plagued the team last season.
The Red Wings have been far less successful in the early-going. They currently boast a bleak 3-8-0 record. While the top line of Tyler Bertuzzi, Dylan Larkin, and Anthony Mantha has clicked very well, the rest of Detroit’s lineup has yet to find their footing. In an effort to address this, the team inexplicably broke up the top-line in their latest matchup against the Buffalo Sabres. This ultimately proved to be a poor decision, with the team being shutout by Buffalo.
Sunday’s matchup seems to be fairly one-sided but could end up being closer than some may hope for. The Blues will likely start the struggling Jake Allen, who has looked very weak to start the year. They are also without star winger Vladimir Tarasenko, who aggravated a shoulder injury in a recent game. The team is also coming off of a Saturday game against Boston that was very physical. They are banged up and tired but should still topple a struggling Detroit lineup.
Prediction: Blues win 3-2.
Boston Bruins vs New York Rangers
Head-to-Head: Bruins 0 – 0 Rangers
The Blues aren’t the only 2019 Stanley Cup Finalists who are returning to form. The Bruins have also made it clear that they are still a force to be reckoned with. Their top-line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak has undeniably been the best in the league to start the season. Through 10 games, both Marchand and Pastrnak have double-digit points. Bergeron is close behind with eight of his own. Tuukka Rask has also been as dominant as always. He has won five of his six starts so far this year, with the only loss coming in overtime.
Rask is expected to get a much-needed rest on Sunday. This opens the door to Jaroslav Halak, who has also been strong so far. Halak has a record of 2-1-1 through four games. This includes one shutout. He has allowed nine goals on 131 shots. So while New York avoids the intimidating Rask, his replacement isn’t a much better site to behold.
The mix of dominant Boston goaltending and lights-out offence could be enough to stifle a New York team that looks admittedly confused to start the year. Only three days ago, the Rangers dominated the red-hot Sabres, winning 6-2. Prior to that, though, the team hadn’t won a game since their second of the season. They sit on a 3-4-1 record heading into Sunday, with a lot of blown hopes already filling their lineup. Facing off against a daunting Boston team isn’t going to solve their issues. Legendary goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is expected to be in between the pipes for New York and will certainly be counting his blessings, as the Bruins are likely to defiantly win Sunday’s game.
Prediciton: Boston wins 5-2.