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 six of the 11 games happening on January 11th. Each piece will include a featured game that should be must-watch hockey. The featured game for this article is the matchup between the Boston Bruins and New York Islanders.
Montreal Canadiens vs Ottawa Senators
Head-to-Head: Canadiens 1 – 1 Senators
The Montreal Canadiens are struggling, to say the least. On the back of five injuries, the team has been shot in the knee. In their last 10 games they have set an abysmal 1-8-1 record, the worst record in the league since December 21, the start of their skid. It’s been a mind-boggling streak coming from a team that came into the season with an undeniable post-season birth in their back pocket. Now, it seems they may have taken that for granted. The Canadiens are being outscored 36-29 through this skid and can’t seem to mount any sort of resistance. It’s been a terrible skid that’s even started to spark some trade rumours surrounding the Canadiens.
There are few teams better to rebound against than the Ottawa Senators, though. The Senators have struggled all year and currently rank third-to-last in the league. Their year has become a simple run for the first-overall draft pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. In their last 10 games, the Senators have gone 2-4-4, looking just as poor as Montreal. On the surface, the game seems like a mere matchup between the bad and the worse. Montreal is sure to prevail, though, with the added motivation of not continuing their skid against such a terrible team giving them the extra boost needed.
Prediction: Canadiens win 3-1.
Vancouver Canucks vs Buffalo Sabres
Head-to-Head Canucks 1 – 0 Sabres
The Vancouver Canucks are coming off of a recently-squashed seven-game win streak that saw them outscore their opponents at a combined 30 to 17. It was a dominant performance from Vancouver that propelled them into two points out of a Wild Card spot. It also helped boost their ego before their road trip to Florida, where they faced both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers. The ‘Sunshine State’ must have had a vendetta out for Vancouver, though. Tampa adamantly ended Vancouver’s win streak with a 9-2 defeat on January 7th. Two nights later, Florida similarly dominated the Canucks, winning 5-2. This has put Vancouver on a brief, and surely a humbling, losing skid.
The Canucks are sure to get back on the right path against the Buffalo Sabres, though. The Sabres have hit a wall, with only Jack Eichel showing any sign of life. The team has gone 3-7-1 in their last 11 games. Of those 11 games, Linus Ullmark has started 10. This has been his first experience with overwork and he has not done well. Ullmark has allowed 29 goals-against and set a .895 save percentage, through this skid. To give him a break, the Sabres will have to reluctantly turn back to the ostracized Carter Hutton. Hutton hasn’t won a game since October 22, going 0-6-4 since then. In those 10 games, he’s allowed 42 goals-against and set a .867 save percentage. Facing the worst goalie, on a Sabres team that is struggling all-around, will surely mean for an almost-too-easy game for Vancouver.
Prediction: Canucks win 5-2.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs Philadelphia Flyers
Head-to-Head: Lightning 0 – 0 Flyers
The Tampa Bay Lightning are finally back to form. They are currently on a nine-game winning streak where they have outscored opponents at a surreal 42 to 17. It’s been an absolute tear for Tampa. No team, not even the red-hot Canucks, can stop the Lightning. They’re tearing through the league, finally showing signs of life after a relatively terrible start to the year. It seemingly doesn’t matter who they play right now, they will burn through anyone in their way.
With that said, the Philadelphia Flyers are arguably the toughest team the Bolts will face since the start of their winning streak. While their absurd scoring is beyond impressive, Tampa has been lucky enough to face the Senators, Sabres, and twice the struggling Canadiens during their win-streak, which has served to inflate their stats. That won’t be the case against a Flyers team that has an admirable 6-4-1 record through their last 11 games. While they haven’t dazzled by any means, they’re showing clear gusto that is sure to stunt the red-hot Lightning. With that said, it’s hard to stop a team that is scoring at a rate like Tampa. It seems fans are finally seeing the version of the Lightning that tied the wins-record last season. Saturday’s matchup will truly put that to the test but all signs point towards Tampa extending their win-streak to 10 games.
Prediction: Lightning win 4-3.
New Jersey Devils vs Washington Capitals
Head-to-Head: Devils 0 – 1 Capitals
The Washington Capitals have topped the league standings for nearly the entire season. While the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins have been breathing down their necks, Washington has somehow remained untouchable. They lead the league in goals-for, a true testament to how well their offensively-gifted lineup has clicked this year.
On Saturday they’ll face a New Jersey Devils team that ranks second-to-last in the league and has allowed the second-most goals-against in the league this season. There doesn’t seem to be much more to say about the matchup, it’s simply a bout between the NHL’s best and one of the NHL’s worst. While the Devils have a so-so 4-4-2 record in their last 10 games, there is seemingly nothing they can do to stop the onslaught that will be their matchup against John Carlson, Alex Ovechkin, and the Washington Capitals. In the two team’s last meeting, this was definitely the case, as Washington toppled New Jersey 6-3.
Prediction: Capitals win 6-0.
Los Angeles Kings vs Carolina Hurricanes
Head-to-Head: Kings 0 – 1 Hurricanes
The writing on the wall seems similar in the next matchup, although maybe a bit more optimistic. The Carolina Hurricanes have continued their strong play from last year, with a 25-16-2 record on the season thus far. This includes a split last 10 games, making for an even 5-5-0 record. This play has been enough to rank Carolina ninth in the league. They also boast great defence, once again, with the Hurricanes ranking seventh in the league in fewest-goals-allowed. They also rank 10th in goals-for, with an average of 3.5 goals-per-game through their last 10 games.
All signs point to Carolina being the superior team in a matchup that sees them face the Western Conference’s second-worst. Although a case could be easily made naming the Los Angeles Kings the worst in the West, as they are only one point above the Anaheim Ducks, despite playing in two more games. Either way, the Kings have notably struggled this year amidst the latter years of a rebuild. They’ve set a 3-6-1 record in their last 10; an embodiment of their struggles. While players like Anze Kopitar, Tyler Toffoli and Drew Doughty make it hard to entirely count out L.A., there seems to be no hope for them against the strong Hurricanes lineup.
Prediction: Hurricanes win 4-2.
Boston Bruins vs New York Islanders
Head-to-Head: Bruins 0 – 0 Islanders
This game is sure to be the closest of the early set. It’ll be an exciting matchup between an electric Bruins offence and a shutdown Islanders defence, likely going down to the wire. Both teams boast amazing resiliency, which could spell for even more excitement.
With that said, the Bruins offence is simply too good to downplay. They have netted the sixth-most goals in the league thus far, on the back of David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand, who both rank in the top-five of the league in scoring with 65 and 62 points respectfully. Pastrnak also leads the league in goals, with a dazzling 35 through only 45 games. This puts him on pace for roughly 64 goals by year’s end. It’s been a never-ending highlight-reel this year for Boston, and they rank second in the league as a result.
With such a potent offence, it’d be far too easy to simply bet on Boston without thinking. New York, though, is one of the few teams in the league with a lineup strong enough to take on the Boston offence. The Islanders have allowed 107 goals-against this year, good for second-fewest in the league behind the Dallas Stars. They’ve kept true to the play that saw them allow the fewest goals in the league last season; adamantly following head coach Barry Trotz’s systems.
Yet, despite their defence being among the league’s best, the Islanders offence is among the worst. They currently rank 28th in goals-for, placing them among the company of the Kings, Ducks, and Detroit Red Wings. It’s this fatal flaw that will be the Islanders downfall on Saturday. While their defence may do well in limiting the onslaught, Boston is far too strong for a weak New York offence to top.
Prediction: Bruins win 3-0.