Welcome to today’s NHL Game Day Predictions. Daily, Last Word on Hockey brings you a prediction and analysis of every game on the schedule. This will also feature a significant game on the schedule that is must-watch hockey. Today’s featured game is the Dallas Stars vs. Minnesota Wild. These are the NHL predictions late games on the schedule, be sure to check out the early games as well.
Florida Panthers vs Detroit Red Wings
Head-to-Head: Panthers 2 – 0 Red Wings
The first of our NHL predictions will include the Florida Panthers who haven’t lost to the bottom dwelling Red Wings this season, but who has? Oh yeah some pretty good teams like the the Montreal Canadiens (three times, ouch), the Boston Bruins, and Nashville Predators to name a few. In other words, don’t automatically think you get a ‘W’ against the Detroit club. The Panthers have won three straight and this is the first stop of a six -game road trip. They have nailed down seven of 10 possible wins of late. They are just one point from a wild-card slot but things are really bunching up with four of five other teams still capable of making the cut. The Panthers should get two points here but they still need to compete to earn it.
The Detroit Red Wings are well… not having an ideal year you might say. They’re still last in goals scored and goals allowed with a whopping -81 goal differential staring them in the face. Can they improve? Of course, but as far making any headway this season, it’s just not going to happen. For the Wings it now is their goal to focus on next season and hope that getting the first overall pick in the NHL Entry draft helps them. It can’t hurt, although the New Jersey Devils are learning that for them it hasn’t really made them a playoff team… or close to it.
Prediction: Panthers win 5-1
Los Angeles Kings vs Philadelphia Flyers
Head-to-Head: Kings 1 – 0 Flyers
The Los Angeles Kings need to get going, yet that hasn’t happened as of yet. They will end a five-game road trip with this game and so far they are 1-2-1. They have beaten the Flyers earlier this season on New Year’s eve 5-3 in L.A. and so they can duplicate that. But, will they? This team is so unpredictable, but on the whole they are buried in the basement of the Western Conference along with the Anaheim Ducks, ranking 29th in scoring has been their downfall. They are 24th in defence so if they can get more pucks in the net they will advance a bit, but not to the playoffs. That seems like California Dreamin’.
The Philadelphia Flyers are in a three-way tie for grabbing that coveted wild-card berth and are in a good spot to jump over teams ahead of them using the tie-breaker. Going just 4-5-1 over their last 10 games will not get the job done so winning this game will certainly help with that. Trying to do that without their young goaltender Carter Hart may be a challenge. The Flyers put Alex Lyon in net and the results were a 4-1 loss to the slumping Montreal Canadiens. You might say Hart was the ‘heart’ of the team and now what do they do?
Prediction: Flyers win 3-2
New Jersey Devils vs Columbus Blue Jackets
Head-to-Head: Devils Devils 0 – 1 Blue Jackets
The New Jersey Devils have not been consistent at all this season and that has hurt them. Recently they’ve won three, lost three… won two, lost two. While that may an improvement from their early season results, it won’t get them out of the Eastern Conference cellar where they have resided for way too long. What gets under most people’s skin is how they can be so bad with all the talent they possess. I for one am very disappointed in them as I chose them to win the Cup. Yeah, I know I really blew that one!
The Columbus Blue Jackets are one of the aforementioned teams vying for a wild-card spot in the East. They’re playing much better lately winners of three straight and 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. They actually beat three pretty good teams in their streak, mowing down the Vegas Golden Knights, Boston Bruins, and Carolina Hurricanes with shutouts in the first two games. Pretty impressive. What may be even more impressive is the Blue Jackets are doing well without scoring very well. They stand 25th in scoring while are a stellar third in defending. If they get more offence, watch the Blue Jackets make a playoff run.
Prediction: The Blue Jackets win 4-2
Buffalo Sabres vs Nashville Predators
Head-to-Head: Sabres 1 – 0 Predators
The Buffalo Sabres have a good chance of making the playoffs since they are only down five points from that cut off in the East. With the likes of Jack Eichel and Rasmus Dahlin they have the tools to get it done. They have secured three straight wins including wins over the Vegas and the Dallas Stars. If they can keep that up they stand a good chance to sneak into a playoff spot and need to stay consistent in that effort.
The Nashville Predators have gone 2-3 since John Hynes was surprisingly installed to replace Peter Laviolette behind the bench. The change may take some time to get the Predators on the same page as their new head coach. This is a talented team who needs to take some smelling salts to wake up before they find themselves on the outside looking in to the teams making the playoffs.
Prediction: Predators Win 4-3
Dallas Stars vs Minnesota Wild
*NHL Predictions featured game
Head-to-Head: Stars 1 – 1 Wild
The Dallas Stars who have been one of seven teams experiencing a head coaching change, are doing quite well. They remain four points ahead of the Winnipeg Jets to earn a guaranteed playoff spot, but also must realize that things are tightening up in the Western Conference race. While the Stars have won seven of their last 10 games, they need to score more goals. They have the top defensive team in the NHL, but rank only 27th in putting the puck in the net. Whatever it takes to ignite a player like Jamie Benn to get on the scoring sheet more often (just 12 goals in 47 games) needs to happen. When and if that happens this team can be scary in the playoffs.
Speaking of scary, what is going on with the Minnesota Wild? They seven points behind to get a playoff berth and have only gone 4-5-1 in their last 10 games. That’s not going to get it done. Their goaltending has really gone south with Devan Dubnyk holding just an 8-12-2 record. His .892 save percentage is really disappointing along with his 3.35 goals-against-average. They need to tighten up their defence and in a hurry. Facing the Stars may make them see stars… if you know what I mean.
Prediction: Stars win 6-2
San Jose Sharks vs Vancouver Canucks
Head-to-Head: Sharks 1 – 1 Canucks
The last game in this NHL predictions series for the late games will be a Pacific Division matchup. The San Jose Sharks have got to the most difficult team to figure out this season. They spent their bankbook on Erik Karlsson, have a Brent Burns burning up their salary cap, and yet they can’t win hockey games. Not a formula for success. Martin Jones has not got the job done in net, so Aaron Dell has been installed. Not sure that will help much. This team is not going to make the playoffs, plain and simple.
The Vancouver Canucks are starting to really come together. They are 7-3 in their last 10 games and are breathing down the neck of the Arizona Coyotes whom they dispatched 3-1 on Thursday night. They are fast, young and dangerous. The Canucks rank eighth and 14th in offence and defence respectively and that’s not bad. If there is any team in the West to fear, it may very will be the Canucks. Elias Pettersson is a marvel to watch and containing him is no easy job as the Sharks will discover in this game.
Prediction: Canucks win 5-2
That does it for this edition of NHL Predictions, be sure to read the early games as well.