Welcome to NHL Predictions! Each day, Last Word On Hockey will break down every game and give our NHL predictions for each game. This will also include a featured game that should be must-watch hockey. Tonight’s featured game is the Calgary Flames vs Washington Capitals.
Chicago Blackhawks vs Anaheim Ducks
Head-to-Head: Blackhawks 0 – 0 Ducks
Very few games will be easier to predict this season. The Chicago Blackhawks are on a continuous downward spiral as they struggle to make the best of a bad situation. Their offence has been non-existent this season, despite players like Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat headlining their roster. Chicago ranks dead-last in the league in goals-for. In 12 games, they’ve only scored 28 goals, an embarrassing statistic considering the offensive explosion the league has seen to start the year. While goaltenders Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner have done a fabulous job of giving Chicago some glimmer of hope, the rest of their team has looked blatantly awful.
On the flip side, the Anaheim Ducks have far surpassed their expectations. On the back of potentially the best goaltender in the league, John Gibson, the Ducks have stormed to a record of 9-6-0. This includes a 3-1-0 record over their last four games. They’re red-hot, boasting a modest offence that’s backed by a tremendous knack for preventing goals. They rank sixth in goals-allowed and 19th in goals-for.
Facing an unproductive, shattered Chicago lineup should be no match for Anaheim. Gibson is reliable enough to ward off even the best offences in the league, so facing the worst should amount to little more than a Sunday stroll for the elite goalie. While the Ducks are expected to face Lehner, who has been the best Blackhawk by far, they should have no trouble sneaking a few goals by him, as they’ll be given plenty of chances to do so.
Prediction: Ducks win 3-0.
Calgary Flames vs Washington Capitals
Head-to-Head: Flames 0 – 1 Capitals
Things get a little more exciting with the day’s featured matchup, although not by much. The Capitals have proven they’re a force to be reckoned with this year, despite facing off against much better competition. They lead the league in goals-for by a margin of five goals. Defenceman John Carlson ranks in the top-five in scoring with 23 points, tied with Connor McDavid for the fifth rank. He is one of only two defencemen in the top-20, with Dougie Hamilton ranking in all the way at 17th. Carlson’s teammate, Alex Ovechkin, is also taking the league by storm, ranking fifth in goals in the early going with 11.
The Capitals have won seven of their last eight games, blowing out the dominant Buffalo Sabres in their most recent outing. Meanwhile, Calgary’s early struggles only continue to fester. Calgary hasn’t been able to find the highly-skilled team that helped them establish themselves last season. They’ve set a record of 8-6-2, helping to detail them as a perfectly mediocre team. While Johnny Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk continue to impress the league, all with 14 points in 16 games, their teammates have failed to keep up. The Flames have proven they’re no match for the league’s best teams, one of which they’ll face today.
What’s worse is the goalie matchup. While the modest Flames offence will likely face star goalie Braden Holtby, the dazzling Capitals are expected to face Cam Talbot. Talbot, who joined Calgary this summer, has done a great job of embodying the mediocrity that surrounds his team. He currently has a .908 save percentage and a 2.46 goals-against average through four games played, and three starts. He’s set a record of 1-2-0 with his new team, something that will surely only get worse as he faces the best offence in the league today.
Prediction: Capitals win 6-2.