Welcome to NHL Predictions! Each day, Last Word On Hockey will break down every game and give our NHL predictions for each game. Today we’ll cover the six early games for November 7th but make sure to check out the late games too. This will also include a featured game that should be must-watch hockey. Today’s featured game is the Vegas Golden Knights vs Toronto Maple Leafs.
Washington Capitals vs Florida Panthers
Head-to-Head: Capitals 0 – 0 Panthers
Thursday’s NHL predictions is loaded with what will surely be very competitive games, starting out with the Washington Capitals vs the Florida Panthers. The Capitals are likely to have the edge in the matchup, though. They currently sit atop the league with an 11-2-3 record through their first 16 games. This is largely thanks to their dominant offence. Washington has scored more goals than any team so far, netting 63. This makes up for their fairly shaky defence that has allowed the ninth-most goals-against.
The Capitals have started their November with two emphatic wins, toppling the Buffalo Sabres 6-1 and the Calgary Flames 4-2. This has extended their win-streak to four games, with all four opponents being dominant teams. On the backs of John Carlson and Alex Ovechkin, the Capitals have very little threatening them.
Yet, Florida might threaten that. They haven’t played since Saturday when they toppled the Detroit Red Wings 4-0. They’re 3-2 in their last five, with a 21-18 goal differential in that stretch. While they don’t jump off the page, the newly-built Panthers have had no trouble scoring. They’ve also had no trouble muscling their way to extra time. Six of their 14 games so far this year have gone to extra time, with four going all the way to a shootout. While Florida is still the underdog in this matchup, they could certainly surprise. At the very worst, fans will likely be tested with a high-scoring match that could easily go to overtime.
Prediction: Capitals win 6-5.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs New York Islanders
Head-to-Head: Penguins 0 – 0 Islanders
The strong competition continues with the meeting of the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders. At first glance, it’d be easy to assume this matchup would be fairly defiant. Pittsburgh has done a great job of establishing themselves as a winning franchise, while the Islanders have a history of struggles.
New York has surprised everyone this year, though. Despite losing star goalie Robin Lehner this summer, the Islanders have started the year with an 11-3-0 record. Their manageable offence from last year has only continued to grow, with Josh Bailey leading the team in scoring. Newcomers in Devon Toews and Anthoney Beauvillier have also added tremendous sparks, with both players ranking in the top-six in team scoring.
The Islanders money has been made on the defensive end of things again this year. Through their first 14 games, they’ve allowed the fewest goals in the NHL. This continues their prowess from last year when they again allowed the fewest goals in the league. They’ll face arguably their biggest test of the year Thursday. Pittsburgh’s offence, despite injuries, is still among the top-10 teams in the league in terms of scoring. Stars like Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel have carried the load again.
Pittsburgh has stumbled recently, though. They’ve lost both games they’ve played so far this month and will be looking for redemption on Thursday. If the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs are any indication, though, the Islanders will surely have the upper-hand. In that series, the Islanders defence completely shut down Pittsburgh’s offence. They’ll look to do that once again on Thursday.
Prediction: Islanders win 2-1.
Montreal Canadiens vs Philadelphia Flyers
Head-to-Head: Canadiens 0 – 0 Flyers
The Montreal Canadiens season has been fairly up-and-down. They’ve won consecutive games three times this year, meaning most of their schedule has been a roller coaster thus far. They currently sit 17th in the league with an 8-5-2 record. This is despite an offence that has dominated, ranking fourth in goals-for.
The Philadelphia Flyers haven’t seen much success either. They’ve boasted a fairly mediocre-at-best offence and defence, leading them to a 7-5-2 record. While they have won two of their three games this month, the Flyers still seem stunted. In the eyes of what’s been a very dominant Montreal offence, this isn’t likely to change. This is emphasized by Sean Couturier‘s shoulder injury, something that hindered the dazzling Oskar Lindblom, Travis Konecny, Couturier line in the team’s most recent outing.
While Montreal’s success seems unpredictable, they’ll surely have the upper-hand against Philadelphia. They’re expected to face Carter Hart, who has had a less-than-ideal start to his 2019-20 season. In nine games, he has allowed 22 goals and set a bleak save percentage of .885. The Canadiens offence should have no issue further sinking Hart’s season on Thursday.
Prediction: Canadiens win 4-2.
New York Rangers vs Carolina Hurricanes
Head-to-Head: Rangers 0 – 0 Hurricanes
The Carolina Hurricanes rank ninth in the league in goals-against. Much like the Islanders, the team’s strong defence has compensated for a fairly mediocre offence thus far. It’s this defence that will help give the Hurricanes the edge over a New York Rangers team that has won four of their last six games. After a bleak start to the year, the Rangers have finally begun showing signs of life.
Despite the Hurricanes and Rangers being separated in the standing by 10 teams, this game should be fairly competitive. The goalie matchup is sure to help this along. It’s expected that rising youngster Alexandar Georgiev will start in net for New York, while Petr Mrazek will oppose him for the Hurricanes. Both goaltenders have started the season strong, with Georgiev looking particularly noteworthy.
Despite Georgiev’s 3-3-1 record, he’s been a definite bright spot on a Rangers roster that seemingly has more to give. Georgiev currently has a save percentage of .913 and has allowed 18 goals in his seven games played. While these aren’t jaw-dropping stats, it’s enough to show that Georgiev’s poor record is more a product of the team he plays on than it is the poor play of his own.
Above-all-else, this means that if New York’s defence can have a strong game, their goalie will create plenty of issues for Carolina. With the Hurricanes offence already not jumping off the page, it seems New York’s defence will be the deciding-factor on Thursday. It should be all of the ingredients for a very low-scoring, neck-and-neck game between the two sides.
Prediction: Rangers win 2-0.
Los Angeles Kings vs Ottawa Senators
Head-to-Head: Kings 0 – 0 Senators
At the end of a very competitive list of NHL predictions comes a much less exciting game. Both the Los Angeles Kings and Ottawa Senators have looked as expected to start the year but that’s not saying much. Both teams rank among the bottom-three of the league, with L.A. ranking just above Ottawa thanks to one extra point.
Ottawa will surely top the Kings, though, thanks to what’s been a surprisingly average defence to start the year. They have only allowed 47 goals-against to start the year, less than the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues have. While their offence could use some work, there are signs of hope in Ottawa.
Meanwhile, the Kings have been truly atrocious. They have allowed 60 goals-against through 15 games, the second-most among any team. Their offence has also remained unproductive, ranking in the bottom-10 in the league. There are very few redeeming factors in L.A., with this year already seeming like a wash. While neither team is strong, the Senators are clearly better heading into Thursday’s matchup.
Prediction: Senators win 3-1.
Vegas Golden Knights vs Toronto Maple Leafs
Head-to-Head: Golden Knights 0 – 0 Leafs
The featured game, among the early group of NHL predictions, is the matchup between the dominant Leafs and Knights. Both teams have had less-than-ideal starts to the year but remain favourites for the Stanley Cup. On Thursday, fans could very likely be watching a preview of what’s to come in June.
Both teams are slowly returning to form. The Leafs have been exciting to watch, despite their 8-5-3 record to start the year. Their tremendous, young offence has seemingly all the potential in the world and has proven it so far. The Leafs rank fifth in the league in goals-for with 55 through 16 games. With John Tavares finally back from injury, this number will shoot up soon enough. What’s brought Toronto down has been a terrible defensive performance. They’ve allowed 52 goals-against so far, sixth-most in the league.
Vegas, on the other hand, ranks 13th in goals-for and 16th in goals-against. They boast a fairly mediocre stat-line but have found a way to win nonetheless, fighting for the 10th-best record in the league at 9-5-2. They’re 5-3-2 in their last 10 games, showing their modest prowess as of late. While Toronto, now once again equipped with their new captain, should have a strong game, Vegas will surely make things difficult. In a potential Stanley Cup Final preview, these two teams are sure to excite.
Prediction: Leafs win 5-3.