Welcome back to NHL Predictions! Each day, the Last Word on Hockey team 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 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Montreal Canadiens. This is the late game slate of NHL Predictions. Be sure and check out the early games of NHL Predictions too.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Montreal Canadiens
*NHL predictions featured game
Head-to-Head: Penguins 0 – 1 Canadiens
The big question mark for the Pittsburgh Penguins will be how will they get along without the services of Jake Guentzel? After going down in the game against the Ottawa Senators the Pens then lost to the San Jose Sharks in overtime. Granted they are still a very tough team to beat and have shown they can win even without their star captain Sidney Crosby. But, not having either in the lineup until Crosby’s return later this month seems to be a difficult endeavor to overcome.
The Montreal Canadiens have had their share of injuries to their forward line as well. They tried to remedy that situation by acquiring Marco Scandella from the Buffalo Sabres and signing UFA Ilya Kovalchuk. That may help the fact that the Habs have five forwards hurt at the moment. Whether it helps down the road is yet to be determined. They have dipped to sixth in the Atlantic Division and have dropped four straight games. At this point, righting the ship has to be their goal. Playing the Penguins makes that difficult.
Prediction: Penguins win 3-2
Tampa Bay Lightning vs Ottawa Senators
Head-to-Head: Lightning 1 – 1 Senators
The Tampa Bay Lightning remain an enigma this season. They have really turned on the boosters of late winning five straight. If anyone recalls that’s what they did last season to start to dominate. So, it is more than about time that this talented team starts playing with some dominance. They won’t need to exert too much energy against the Senators, thankfully. Yet, anything can happen. Like losing in the first round of the playoffs after accomplishing the second-best record in league history.
The Senators have continued their struggles as of late. In their last 10 games they’ve set a record of 3-3-4, losing four of their last five games. This includes a loss to the Florida Panthers where they were outscored 6-3. It’s been a tough road for the Senators and it will seemingly get tougher against a Tampa Bay Lightning team that’s finally heating up. For an Ottawa team with no hopes of playoffs, Saturday’s matchup will simply be a bout to keep from being dominated once again.
Prediction: Lightning win 5-2
Colorado Avalanche vs New Jersey Devils
Head-to-Head: Avalanche 1 – 0 Devils
The Colorado Avalanche have gone into a little funk where they are just 4-5-1 in their last 10 games. What’s up with that? This team can downright obliterate other teams at times and then come back down to earth. When you have a player of Nathan MacKinnon‘s calibre, it’s dire to use his talent to the upmost potential. He hasn’t disappointed this season with 25 goals, 37 assists in 41 games. He’s on track for 50 goals, 74 assists.
The New Jersey Devils are 15th in the Eastern Conference but only trail the Senators by a point to move up a notch. They also have a game in hand. Playing the Avs may not be a pleasant experience, yet the Devils need to show they can be more competitive in order to advance. They won four of their last five games, with two of the contests going to overtime and one being a shootout. Their last win was against the powerful New York Islanders on the road. Now that is what they need to duplicate, and they have the skill to accomplish it.
Prediction: Devils win 4-3.
Philadelphia Flyers vs Arizona Coyotes
Head-to-Head: Flyers 0 – 1 Coyotes
The Philadelphia Flyers have themselves a battle for a Wild Card spot with both the Panthers and Columbus Blue Jackets right behind them in the hunt for a postseason spot. Florida has a game in hand and is two points back, while Columbus is three behind. The race is tightening and the Flyers are in the midst of a nightmare road trip consisting of six games with this game being the fifth on the journey. They have only won one of the games thus far, coming in overtime. Their weariness is sure to continue in Arizona.
The Arizona Coyotes recently shook themselves out of a three-game losing streak, the longest of this campaign. They did it up right by defeating the Stanley Cup-reigning St. Louis Blues for the second time this season. More importantly, they won a game at home, which has been an anomaly for them this season. They carry a non-impressive 10-10-1 home record which ties them with the Chicago Blackhawks for the worst record on home ice. While the team is without Darcy Kuemper, Antti Raanta came up huge in the Blues game and needs to continue that level of play to get by the Flyers.
Prediction: Coyotes win 2-1
New York Rangers vs Vancouver Canucks
Head-to-Head: Rangers 0 – 1 Canucks
The New York Rangers have not been burning up the league but are only seven points behind the Flyers for a final Wild Card spot with a game in hand. The problem they will have is facing a red-hot Vancouver team who has a six-game winning streak going. The Rangers need to concentrate on their defence to combat the Canucks offence. The New York club gives up 3.40 goals-a-game and if they continue that against Vancouver, they’re surely asking to lose.
The Vancouver Canucks have really come on like gangbusters lately. Winning six straight games is always nice and this young team has some potential to be there when playoffs arrive. With young studs like Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and Quinn Hughes this team has an excellent future ahead. To add to that they have a goalie in Jacob Markstrom who is getting the job done with a 14-11-3 record. He has a .917 save percentage to go along with a 2.72 goals-against-average. The Rangers may meet their nemesis in this game.
Prediction: Canucks win 5-2
Nashville Predators vs Los Angeles Kings
Head-to-Head: Predators 0 – 1 Kings
The Nashville Predators need to get going. They have gone 4-5-1 in their last 10 games and have dropped three straight. Losing defenceman Ryan Ellis won’t help them at all. His six goals and 22 assists in 38 games will be missed. The Preds called up Alexandre Carrier from the AHL to fill in for Ellis, although there will still surely be a void. The Predators need to get past the injury and concentrate on beating the Kings. Pekka Rinne has not played all-that-well this year. His 13-8-3 record helps hide his terrible save percentage of .893 and a goals-against-average of 3.07.
The Los Angeles Kings have gone 5-3-2 in their last 10 games and have shown signs of staying out of the Western Conference cellar. They’re only one point ahead of the Anaheim Ducks and one point behind the San Jose Sharks in a close race for mediocrity in the West. If the Kings can jump on the Predators early, they may stand a chance to win. The Kings will be without Kurtis MacDermid who has been suspended two games for an illegal hit to the head of the Flyers Ivan Provorov. So, both teams will be down a regular defenceman in this contest.
Prediction: Kings win 4-1