Welcome back to the Last Word on Hockey team’s NHL Predictions series. Every day, our writers provide a prediction and detailed analysis of every game on the schedule. Tonight features ten games, with six of them starting at 7 p.m. ET. We’ll be covering those in this article, but you can check out the later start games here. Our featured matchup tonight sees the Carolina Hurricanes meet the Boston Bruins for the first time since last year’s Eastern Conference Final.
Carolina Hurricanes vs. Boston Bruins
Head-to-Head: Hurricanes 0-0 Bruins
Carolina heads into TD Garden tonight looking to avenge their sweep at the hands of the Bruins this past May. They’re coming off a 3-2 road win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, having gotten markers from Sebastian Aho, Jordan Martinook, and Jaccob Slavin along with a solid performance from James Reimer. Rookie pivot Martin Necas did not play, and his status for tonight is uncertain. Carolina’s offence has been chugging along, tying for tenth in the league with 3.22 goals per game. The defence has excelled, placing eighth in the league with 2.81 goals against per game. Their power play has been quite good as well, placing eighth again with a 21.2 percent success rate. Their penalty kill squad, at eighth yet again, is sitting at 84.4 percent.
They’re being led in points by young phenom Andrei Svechnikov, who has 29. Aho leads them in goals with 13. Petr Mrazek has looked iffy in a starter’s role, posting a .901 save percentage and 2.68 goals-against average (GAA). However, he’s been able to put up an 11-6-1 record.
Boston has now won its past seven games after a strong performance against the Montreal Canadiens two nights ago. David Pastrnak scored his league-leading 25th goal of the season, and David Backes and Jake Debrusk netted the other markers. They’ve gone on this run without names like Patrice Bergeron, Karson Kuhlman, Kevan Miller, and Brett Ritchie in the lineup. Their offence is elite, ranking second in the league with 3.67 goals per game. The Bruins’ defence is second-to-none, limiting other teams to 2.26 goals per game. Their special teams are very good as well, with a top-two power play (31.6 percent) and a seventh-ranked penalty kill (84.5 percent).
Aggressor Brad Marchand leads the team in points with 43, and their starter Tuukka Rask has been outstanding (13-2-2, .933 save percentage, 2.04 GAA). Boston should be able to exploit Carolina’s poor goaltending and eke out another win at home.
Prediction: Bruins win 3-1.
New York Islanders vs. Montreal Canadiens
Head-to-Head: Islanders 0-0 Canadiens
New York Islanders
The New York Islanders are playing the second half of a back-to-back tonight, having played against the Detroit Red Wings last night. The Islanders have been winning because of their structure, not because of their 17th-ranked offence (2.92 goals per game). Their solid play and elite goaltending lead their defence to a fourth-best ranking, allowing 2.36 goals per game. New York’s special teams have been average, with an 18th-ranked power play (18.3 percent) and tenth-ranked penalty kill (83.6 percent).
Offensively, they’re led by Barzal (ten goals, 13 assists, 23 points in 25 games). Semyon Varlamov has split time equally with Greiss, but he’s still put up an 8-3-2 record with a .922 save percentage and 2.39 GAA.
Montreal lost its eighth straight game after losing to Boston 3-1 on Sunday. This skid has mostly been due to poor defence, as their offence is ranked tenth in the league (3.22 goals per game). Their defence is allowing a staggering 3.52 goals per game, bad enough for 30th in the league. Their special teams aren’t much better, as they boast an average power play (16th, 18.8 percent) and a terrible penalty kill (30th, 73.2 percent).
Tomas Tatar leads them in scoring with 24 points, and Brendan Gallagher and Joel Armia are tied for the team lead in goals with ten. Goalie Carey Price‘s stats are unusually poor, tallying a 10-9-3 record plus a .898 save percentage and 3.18 GAA. However, his performance has been better than his stats suggest as the team defence has been unusually terrible as of late. Montreal is not as bad as this skid suggests, and they’ll be able to snap the losing streak at home tonight due to the Islanders’ lack of offence.
Prediction: Canadiens win 3-0.
Minnesota Wild vs. Florida Panthers
Head-to-Head: Wild 0-0 Panthers
The Minnesota Wild have won three straight games and are coming off a 3-2 shootout win over the Dallas Stars two days ago. Kevin Fiala and Zach Parise scored the goals for the Wild. Their bump in play has seen a bump in numbers, as their offence is now ranked 16th (2.89 goals per game) and their defence is 21st (3.19 goals against per game). Those numbers aren’t great, but they’re good considering the poor start the Wild got off to. Their power play has moved into the top ten, converting at a rate of 20.6 percent. Their penalty kill is average, though, tied for 17th at 81.0 percent.
Veteran Eric Staal is still leading this year’s edition of the Wild in scoring with 19 points, but Parise has 12 goals to lead the team. Goalie Alex Stalock has taken over the starter’s chair with Devan Dubnyk‘s absence from the team, and he’s performed well with a 7-3-2 record, .912 save percentage, and 2.67 GAA.
The Florida Panthers are coming off a confidence-booster of a win against the Nashville Predators on Saturday. Goalie Chris Driedger got his first NHL win and shutout. Their offence is fifth-best in the league, scoring at a rate of 3.50 goals per game. Their defence has been the polar opposite, fourth-worst, allowing 3.46 goals per game. Florida’s power play is still elite though, chugging along at seventh in the league (22.5 percent). Their penalty kill is also stellar, fifth in the league at 84.6 percent.
Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov are tied for the team lead in points with 31, and Brett Connolly leads the team in goals with 12. Starter Sergei Bobrovsky has been truly bad to start the year despite a 9-6-4 record. He has a .884 save percentage and a 3.48 GAA. The Panthers’ offence is helping him out there. This shaky goaltending is the reason the Panthers will only squeak out of this matchup with a loser point, surrendering to the Wild in a shootout.
Prediction: Wild win 4-3 in a shootout.
Vegas Golden Knights vs. New Jersey Devils
Head-to-Head: Golden Knights 0-0 Devils
Vegas Golden Knights
The Vegas Golden Knights roll into The Rock on the second half of a back-to-back, having won last night in Manhattan, 4-1. They got two goals from Alex Tuch and additional goals from Reilly Smith and Max Pacioretty. Malcolm Subban was in net as Marc-Andre Fleury is away from the team mourning a loss in the family. Our thoughts are with him during this time.
Vegas is middle-of-the-pack offensively, scoring 2.90 goals per game (18th in the league). In terms of defence, they’re 9th (2.83 goals against per game). They have a pretty good power play, listed as seventh in the league at a 22.8 percent success rate. Their penalty kill is tied for fourth, sitting at 85.6 percent. Specialty teams are a strong suit here.
Pacioretty, former Habs captain, leads the team in scoring with 26 points, and the aforementioned Smith leads the team in goals with 12. Fleury’s absence hurts the team in net, he’s got an 11-6-2 record combined with a .919 save percentage and 2.54 GAA.
New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils are just about ready to throw their season away after a depressing 7-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres just last night. They’ve been outscored 11-1 over their past two outings. Nico Hischier got their only goal. The offence hasn’t been nearly as dynamic as many thought, only tallying 2.50 goals per game (29th). Their defence is also the third worst, allowing 3.62 goals per game. Their special teams have been quite poor as well, as their power play is also ranked 28th (13.4 percent). The Devils’ penalty kill is slightly better but not much, 23rd in the league at 76.5 percent.
Former Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall leads the team with 21 points. Kyle Palmieri and Blake Coleman are tied for the team lead in goals with nine. Starter MacKenzie Blackwood has seen his play plummet down to an 8-7-3 record, .898 save percentage, and 3.12 GAA. They’ll have home-ice advantage in this one as Vegas will be tired too, but the talent just isn’t there to oust a talented Golden Knights roster.
Prediction: Golden Knights win 3-2 in overtime.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Head-to-Head: Maple Leafs 1-1 Flyers
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs have won four out of five games since firing estranged coach Mike Babcock, all without winger Mitch Marner. They’ve split the season series with the Philadelphia Flyers so far, as both games ended in a shootout. The Toronto offence has rebounded to ninth in the league, scoring 3.29 goals per game. However, the much-debated Toronto defence is ninth-worst (3.21 goals allowed per game). Their power play, even with all their weapons, is only 14th in the league at 19.5 percent. Their penalty kill is even worse, fifth-worst at 75 percent exactly.
They’re led in points by centre Auston Matthews, who has a team-leading 16 goals and 15 assists for 31 points. Starter Frederik Andersen has been more than solid this season, posting a 13-5-3 record to go with a .921 save percentage and 2.47 GAA.
The Flyers have gobbled up four straight wins, the most recent of which being a 4-3 overtime victory over the Canadiens on Saturday. Oskar Lindblom, Kevin Hayes, and Travis Konecny scored, while Ivan Provorov got a beautiful overtime winner. Their offence this year has been just around average, 15th in the league at 3.04 goals per game. The defence has been a non-issue, allowing the sixth-least goals per game in the league at 2.70. Production on the power-play has been pedestrian, as their 19.8 percent conversion rate is 13th in the league. Their penalty kill has been very good, however, as they’re third in the league with an 85.7 success rate.
Philly is led in scoring by Konecny, who’s got 25 points in 27 games. The goal-scoring crown goes to the surprising Lindblom, however, who’s got 11. Goalie Carter Hart‘s play has been much improved after a shaky start, putting up some good starts recently. He’s maintained an 8-5-3 record with a .906 save percentage and 2.44 GAA. The Flyers are indeed flying at the moment and will use home ice to secure a win over the streaking Maple Leafs.
Prediction: Flyers win 4-3.
Arizona Coyotes vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Head-to-Head: Coyotes 0-1 Blue Jackets
The Arizona Coyotes have dropped three of their past four, and are giving some fans cause for concern. Their last outing, Saturday, saw them blow a 2-0 lead to the San Jose Sharks at home. Nick Schmaltz and Derek Stepan scored. The offence has been an anticipated issue this year, as their 2.64 goals per game are ranked 23rd. Their defence has been keeping them in games despite an injury to Niklas Hjalmarsson. They’re second best in the league, only allowing 2.32 goals per game. They’ve been very average in terms of special teams, as their power play (18.3 percent) is 17th and their penalty kill (81.3 percent) is 16th.
Young Nick Schmaltz leads them in scoring with 20 points, and Conor Garland leads them in goals with ten. Darcy Kuemper has been lights out all year, compiling a 10-6-2 record to go with a stellar .935 save percentage and 1.97 GAA.
Columbus Blue Jackets
These two teams’ previous meeting saw the Columbus Blue Jackets win 3-2, and they’re hoping for more of the same. That game saw Gustav Nyquist, Emil Bemstrom, and Oliver Bjorkstrand score. Their offence has been really poor, though, as they’re third-worst in the league with 2.54 goals per game. They’ve been closer to average defensively, only allowing 3.04 goals per game (19th in the league). Their special teams have actually been pretty good, as their power-play is 11th at 20.5 percent and their penalty kill is 15th at 81.3 percent.
Pierre-Luc Dubois and Nyquist are tied for the team lead in points with 18. Dubois holds the team lead in goals with ten. Starter Joonas Korpisalo has been okay for the Jackets, posting an 11-8-1 record with a .902 save percentage and 2.83 GAA. Luckily for Columbus, their defence should be able to limit the Coyotes’ poor offence tonight and get them a win at home.
Prediction: Blue Jackets win 2-0.
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