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 Edmonton Oilers vs. Montreal Canadiens. This is the early game slate of NHL Predictions. Be sure and check out the late games of NHL Predictions too.
Winnipeg Jets vs. Boston Bruins
Head-to-Head: Jets 0 – 0 Bruins
This is the first meeting between the Winnipeg Jets and Boston Bruins. As the Jets enter this matchup, they will be coming off an emotional game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Winnipeg continues to make their way up the standings in a tight Western Conference. Currently, the Jets sit are in one of the two wild-card positions in the West. However, they have their sights set on one of three spots in the Central Division. With the way things are in the Central, the Jets need to keep winning in order to keep up with the pace of the other teams. It is a credit to Paul Maurice and his staff for a remarkable job they did this season. Despite all their injuries, Winnipeg is in a position to compete for the playoffs. Nobody would have that going into this season.
The Bruins are starting to right the ship. The team was able to snap its three-game losing streak. Even though the Bruins continue to lead the Atlantic Division, their recent struggles have allowed teams lower in the standings to inch closer. While their lead is still significant, the Bruins want to get back to playing the type of hockey that got them into this position. However, the adversity they are going through now may not be a bad thing. Imagine if the Bruins were able to run away with the division not face adversity until the playoffs. That would not be a good thing. The Bruins are getting reinforcements back in the lineup. While the Bruins history would suggest they should win against the Jets, the recent history between the two teams would suggest otherwise. This will be a close game for sure.
Prediction: Jets Win 3-2.
Edmonton Oilers vs. Montreal Canadiens
Head-to-Head: Oilers 1 – 0 Canadiens
This our NHL predictions featured early game of the night.
This is the second and final meeting of the season between the Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens. In the first meeting of the year, the Oilers found a way to beat the Canadiens by a score of 4-3. Last time, the Canadiens were on their Western Canadian road trip, now the Oilers are trekking East. Connor McDavid and company are coming off a win in Toronto and want to carry that momentum into Montreal. The Oilers have won three of their last four games. This is a much needed winning stretch for a team that had been struggling. Goaltender Mike Smith is playing back to the level everyone expected to him when he signed his deal in the off-season. The one thing that needs to continue for the Oilers is their secondary scoring. The addition of Kailer Yamamoto has given the Oilers a boost. They have two solid lines instead of just two players doing everything.
Time is starting to run out for the Canadiens. The Canadiens enter this matchup with the Oilers on a seven-game losing streak. It does not help players like Brendan Gallagher, Jonathan Drouin, Joel Armia, and Paul Byron out of the lineup. Even though the team signed Ilya Kovalchuk to a one-year deal, they have a lot of problems. Just like always the team goes as Carey Price does. Price is getting frustrated with his play and losing. Sitting in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, there is a long road ahead for Montreal to get back into playoff contention. Once, these players get back into the lineup, the Canadiens could start turning things around. However, will it be too little too late?
Prediction: Oilers Win 4-2.
Arizona Coyotes vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Head-to-Head: Coyotes 0 – 0 Lightning
This is the first meeting of the season between the Arizona Coyotes and Tampa Bay Lightning. Who would have thought that coming into the season how much of a big game this will be for both teams? The Coyotes are on a four-game winning streak as they continue their three-game road trip. The addition of Taylor Hall has made the Coyotes into a contender in the Western Conference. With all the attention on Hall, it has allowed other players the opportunity to score goals namely Clayton Keller. Even with the injuries to Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta, Adin Hill has come in and looked good. If he can continue to play at this level, the Coyotes will be able to survive until both of their starters are healthy.
Look out folks, here comes the Lightning. It might have taken a while, but Tampa Bay is starting to string wins together. Since the end of December, the Lightning is on an eight-game winning streak. Over the current winning streak, the Lightning was able to climb from outside of the playoff picture to second in the Atlantic. While the big guns like Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Victor Hedman, and others are starting to fill the stat sheet, it has been the play on Andrei Vasilevskiy that is really astonishing. Vasilevskiy is returning to his Vezina Trophy-winning self. His ability to gain confidence in himself has spread throughout the team. This is a team the rest of the league should start to fear if they have not done so already. With both teams on a streak, something has to give.
Prediction: Lightning Win 5-4.
Vancouver Canucks vs. Florida Panthers
Head-to-Head: Canucks 1 – 0 Panthers
This is the second and final meeting between the Vancouver Canucks and Florida Panthers. The Canucks took their first meeting back in October by a score of 7-2. With both teams fighting for a playoff spot, this will be a tightly contested game. Before the Cancuks loss to the Lightning on Tuesday, the Canucks had won seven-straight games. This is a make or break road trip for the Canucks. Vancouver is a year ahead of schedule when it comes to making the playoffs and being a contender again in the Western Conference. In order to keep pace in the West, a winning road trip is in order.
For the Panthers, after a strong start to the season, the Panthers have come back to Earth. Sergei Bobrovsky has not turned into the goalie the team had hoped for when he signed in the off-season. If his struggles would have been anywhere else, they would have been front-page news. With Bobrovsky struggling, Chris Driedger has stepped up to take the mantle for now. However, if the Panthers want to make the playoffs Bobrovsky has to be the man going forward.
Prediction: Canucks Win 4-2.
New Jersey Devils vs. New York Rangers
Head-to-Head: Devils 1 – 1 Rangers
This is the third meeting of the season between the Hudson River Rivals. Entering the season the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers were the winners of the off-season. However, things have not gone according to plan for either team. Well, mainly the Devils as there were high expectations are starting to season. Recently their play has gotten a lot better under new head coach Alain Nasreddine. Under Nasreddine’s system, the Devils are becoming a tougher team to play against. While the losses still sting the players, the effort on the ice is much improved. With Hall gone from the team, the Devils are turning into Nico Hischier‘s team. It may have taken some time, but the improvements in his game in just two and a half years are remarkable. There is a reason why there is a chance he goes to the NHL All-Star Game. The Devils offence is not the same without Jack Hughes and Jesper Bratt in the lineup.
The winds are changing in New York. With highly touted goalie prospect Igor Shesterkin officially up with the team, the Rangers are clearly bringing in the goalie of the future. Shestyorkin dominated the AHL, and the Rangers knew it was time for him to get a look at the NHL. In his first game of the season, he got the victory. He looked shaky at times, but in the end, he made the saves when the team needed him to. It will be interesting to see how the Rangers handle the three goalies going forward. The big summer acquisition of Artemi Panarin continues to be a dominant player for the Rangers. Regardless of the records of either team, these teams want to play hard against each with pride on the line.
Prediction: Devils Win 3-2.
Buffalo Sabres vs. St. Louis Blues
Head-to-Head: Sabres 1 – 0 Blues
This is the second and final meeting between the Buffalo Sabres and St. Louis Blues. The Sabres found a way to beat the Blues in the first matchup by a score of 5-2. That was when the Sabres were playing well. Now the Sabres have hit the skids once again. However, the Sabres have won two straight games and trying to get back into contention for a playoff spot. Buffalo is trying to stay alive even with all the turmoil that is going on. With several teams to climb over, the Sabres need to put together a nice little winning streak together.
After a strong December, the Blues 2020 has gotten off to a slow start. However, their homestand started off on the right note with a win. Currently, the Blues are on a five-game homestand. The Blues continue to lead the pack in a tight Central Division. With teams breathing down their necks, they can’t afford any slip-ups. Jordan Binnington continues to show the stage is not too big for him. Bringing back David Perron was the best thing for the Blues. He has brought his scoring touch to a team that needs it with Vladimir Tarasenko out of the lineup. Would it shock anyone if Perron joins Binnington, Ryan O’ Reilly, and Alex Pietrangelo for the All-Star Game this year?
Prediction: Blues Win 5-3.
That does it for NHL Predictions for the early games for January 9th