Welcome to NHL Predictions! Each day, Last Word On Hockey will break down every game and give our NHL predictions for each game. In today’s NHL predictions, we’ll cover the four games happening on December 15th. This will include a featured game that should be must-watch hockey. The featured game today is the Vancouver Canucks vs Vegas Golden Knights.
Philadelphia Flyers vs Winnipeg Jets
Head-to-Head: Flyers 0 – 0 Jets
The first matchup of the day sees two fairly hot teams clashing heads. The Philadelphia Flyers flame has significantly cooled in the last few games, though. They lost in Saturday night’s contest against the Minnesota Wild by a defiant 4-1 tally. This was Philadelphia’s third loss in their last four games. It’s a fairly hefty turnaround from their recent performance. Since November 1, the Flyers have set a very impressive record of 11-3-4. These last four games have been their worst span since early October.
They’ll look to turn steer back to the right path against a Winnipeg Jets team that’s had a very similar first half. The Jets started the season much like the Flyers: struggling to find their footing and tallying a disappointing record as a result. Since November 1, though, they’ve been red-hot, setting a record of 13-4-2. Unlike the Flyers, though, the Jets aren’t slowing down. In their last five games, they’ve set a 3-1-1 record. In those, they’ve tallied a fairly high goal differential of 33 goals-for and 23 goals-against. With the Winnipeg offence finally coming to life, they should easily find a way to top the skidding Flyers.
Prediction: Jets win 5-3.
Minnesota Wild vs Chicago Blackhawks
Head-to-Head: Wild 0 – 0 Blackhawks
The Chicago Blackhawks were disappointed in Saturday’s matchup against the St. Louis Blues. The Blackhawks climbed to a 3-0 lead before letting the Blues defiantly claw their ways back into the game. After scoring four goals, the Blues were able to hold their lead for the last few minutes of the game. This was a tremendous comeback by St. Louis but the statistics argue that they had the upper hand the entire game. A healthy amount of luck, and a tremendous game from Corey Crawford were enough to hold the Hawks up for most of the game.
This storyline has plagued Chicago’s entire season. Their goaltending has been among the best in the league but the play from the other 18 skaters has been among the worst. The Hawks rank 26th in the league in goals-for and, thanks to their tremendous goaltending, a tad more admirable 21st in goals-against. It’s been a recipe for failure for the ‘Windy City’s’ team, as they currently rank second-to-last in the Western Conference.
The Minnesota Wild should be able to follow the Blues footsteps and triumph over Chicago come Sunday. They’ve blown the minds of all NHL fans, who collectively had very low expectations for Minnesota this season. In their last 12 games, Minnesota has dazzled with an amazing 8-1-3 record. They are now only two points out of the second Wild Card spot, with two games in hand over Vegas, who currently resides in that spot. With no signs of slowing down, the Wild could be an actual playoff team this season. To do this, though, they’ll need to keep their fire alive for the next five months, including in Sunday’s matchup against Chicago.
Prediction: Wild win 3-1.
Los Angeles Kings vs Detroit Red Wings
Head-to-Head: Kings 1 – 0 Red Wings
‘NHL predictions’ continues with a matchup between the worst team from each Conference. The Detroit Red Wings also carry the title of worst in the league, with a horrid 9-22-3 record through their first 34 games. This has earned them only 21 points, eight fewer than the Los Angeles Kings have tallied.
Detroit simply can’t figure things out this year. Despite Anthony Mantha (23 points in 26 games) and Robby Fabbri‘s (15 points in 17 games) strong play, the Wings fell subject to a 12-game-losing-streak. They only recently broke this streak, with two wins last week, but are still hiding under its shadow.
The Kings, however, have won two of their last three games. They could have easily gone three-for-three but the Pittsburgh Penguins managed to top a strong Jonathan Quick in Saturday’s game, after fighting through a shootout. The inability to finish of the team in front of Quick has plagued the Kings recently, as all three of their most recent losses were decided by only one goal. With that said, L.A. is shaping up; at least as much as a bottom-rank team can. They’ve scored a modest 13 goals in their last five games and netted four in Saturday’s contest. While they’re certainly not a promising team in the long term, they’re the lesser of two evils on Sunday.
Prediction: Kings win 4-2.
Vancouver Canucks vs Vegas Golden Knights
Head-to-Head: Canucks 0 – 0 Golden Knights
In the first of four matchups this season, the Canucks will look to get back on the right track against a blatantly worse Vegas lineup. Vancouver has had a surprising start to their year but have started to fall out of favor. Since November 1, the team has set a fairly ‘meh’ record of 8-10-3. Of these eight wins, three have been decided in extra time. Four of the remaining five were decided by three goals; more of a fun fact than anything.
The Golden Knights are in a simply shaky spot, though. They’ve had an equally mediocre 9-8-4 record since November 1, confining them to the aforementioned Wild Card spot instead of the Pacific Division-lead that they boasted at the end of last season. Despite a roster featuring dazzling names like Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Cody Glass, and many other great offensive names; the Golden Knights only rank 17th in the league in goals-for. They’ve also ranked 17th in goals-against.
While both teams have high hopes surrounding them, they’ve been surrounded by mediocrity for much of the 2019-20 season. The deciding factor in Sunday’s matchup will surely be the goaltending. Vegas’ expected starter, Marc-Andre Fleury, has had a great year thus far, with a .919 save percentage and 2.54 goals-against-average. He’s been the brightest part of Vegas’ lineup and is the clear mountain standing in Vancouver’s way on Sunday.
Yet, Vancouver’s starter, Jacob Markstrom, has been just as good. He has a very similar stat line to Fleury, with a .918 save percentage and 2.58 goals-against-average, in one less game. So while the performances of Fleury and Markstrom will be the defiant difference-maker in Sunday’s game, comparing them doesn’t make things any easier in the predictions-regard. For those looking to bet on games this Sunday, it’d be best to steer clear from this outing. While it will be a very exciting, likely back-and-forth game, it could go either way and there’s seemingly no telling.
Prediction: Canucks win 5-4.