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 five games happening on February 9th. Each piece will include a featured game that should be must-watch hockey. The featured game for this article is the Stanley Cup-rematch between the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers.
Boston Bruins vs Detroit Red Wings
Head-to-Head: Bruins 0 – 1 Red Wings
The day starts with one of the biggest mismatches possible in this year’s league. The Boston Bruins have continuously been one of the league’s top three teams. Their mix between dazzling top-six, lockdown defence, and amazing goaltending has been a perfect combination. The Bruins are among the front-runners for the 2020 Stanley Cup with no sign of slowing down. In fact, Boston is on a six-game winning streak right now. Their latest victory came against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night; whom they beat 4-2.
Boston’s seventh win is sure to come Sunday against a Detroit Red Wings team that’s been incredibly poor all year long. The Wings currently sit at a 13-39-4 record, by far the worst in the league. There’s been absolutely no sign of a late-year resurgence, either, as Detroit has lost 10 of their last 11 games. This included a nine-game losing streak that they only managed to break in a shootout-win over the equally-struggling Buffalo Sabres.
While Detroit did manage to pull out a win in their first meeting with Boston this year, it was with a healthy amount of false-hope (and a 104.3 PDO). They’ve come down to Earth since the November meeting and are now far from equipped to compete with Boston. The Bruins will use Sunday’s meeting as an extended-practice, in what’s sure to be a blowout between the two Atlantic Division teams.
Prediction: Bruins win 5-0.
Anaheim Ducks vs Buffalo Sabres
Head-to-Head: Ducks 1 – 0 Sabres
The Buffalo Sabres are bad. There’s no more beating around the bush. Things have gotten so bad that, on Saturday, fans quite-literally protested the team outside of their KeyBank Center. It was humiliating for the team, as fans chanted and held up signs attacking an organization that hasn’t offered any sign of hope since their last playoff-entry in 2011. On Sunday, the Sabres players will have to tuck their heads and walk into that arena to face the Anaheim Ducks.
Not surprisingly, things aren’t looking great for Buffalo. They’ve gone 2-4-1 in their last seven games, allowing an atrocious 13-for; 23-against goal-differential. Meanwhile, Anaheim have a more-respectable 4-2-2 record in their last 10 games. They also have only allowed 23 goals-against in those 10 games, fewer than the Sabres have allowed in their last seven. All signs are pointing to Anaheim being the better team on Sunday. They haven’t lost in regulation since January 31st: five games ago. With a relatively-strong depth and amazing goalie John Gibson taking the net, Anaheim should have little issues taking down a team that shouldn’t even exist; at least by some of their own fan’s standards.
Prediction: Ducks win 4-2.
Chicago Blackhawks vs Winnipeg Jets
Head-to-Head: Blackhawks 1 – 1 Jets
“The Chicago Blackhawks are competitive,” has been repeating through the soul of northern-Illinois since the start of the season. The Hawks have done just enough to stay, sort-of, in the playoff race this year but still rank sixth in the Central Division. While Patrick Kane is continuing his tear and Kirby Dach is making his admittedly weak case for the Calder, Chicago hasn’t been able to find much success. Still, they do enough to pose a threat to their opposition. They’ve gone 6-1-2 in their last nine games, scoring an impressive average of 3.44 goals-per-game through this stretch while only allowing a 2.22 goals-against-per-game average.
This nine-game skid saw the Blackhawks beat the Winnipeg Jets 5-2. It was one of many emphatic showings from Chicago. Winnipeg will get a chance to redeem themselves on Sunday, though. The Jets have, much like Chicago, continued their good-not-great season into February. The Jets have three wins in their last four games, with both wins coming against the Central Division-leading St. Louis Blues. This is far from the most exciting showing but the Jets still remain fourth in the Central and are barely in possession of the Western Conference’s second Wild Card spot. Still, they’ve been ice-cold as of late. In their January 19th matchup against Chicago is any sign, Winnipeg fans shouldn’t be excited for Sunday. The two teams matchup incredibly evenly on paper but one is on-fire while one can’t get anything going. There doesn’t seem to be much of an argument to be made.
Prediction: Blackhawks win 3-2.
Colorado Avalanche vs Minnesota Wild
Head-to-Head: Avalanche 1 – 2 Wild
The following bout is just as evenly matched; again between two Central Division opponents. The Colorado Avalanche have blown the league away this year, with one of the best offences in recent memory. Combined with a defence that’s managed to be reliable, and a pair of goalies that have been surprisingly strong; Colorado has managed a comfortable second-place in the Conference. They also lead the Western Conference in goals-for over the course of the year by almost 20 goals. They’ve become a team-to-beat and an offence to fear. In their last 10, they’ve gone 6-2-2, continuing a dominance that makes them one of the best teams in the league.
With that said, the Minnesota Wild aren’t a team to take lightly. They rank fifth in the Central but have gone 6-2-0 in their last eight and, much like Chicago and Winnipeg, have remained very competitive despite contradicting numbers. They came into the year with a rebuilding-mentality but are now in the race for a Western Conference Wild Card. To some, the Wild are even among the most underrated teams in the league. Their relentless nature and production from unusual places has made them a team to respect. Still, optimistic thinking and hard work simply isn’t enough to topple the Western’s best offence. The skilled Avalanche will take down the Wild will little effort, although Minnesota’s grit may be enough to at least keep the score modest.
Prediction: Avalanche win 3-1.
Los Angeles Kings vs New York Rangers
Head-to-Head: Kings 1 – 0 Rangers
Since the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, every matchup between the Kings and Rangers has caused sparks. The two clubs have taken much-different paths since then but still, find a way to make meetings exciting. Sunday should be no different. The Kings are among the worst teams in the league and their latest stretch only serves to emphasize that. They’ve gone 1-7-1 in their last nine games, with the only win coming in overtime. This includes Saturday’s game against the New Jersey Devils, where the Kings were shutout on treck to a 3-0 loss.
Meanwhile, New York has a little-more-modest 4-4-0 record in their last eight games. It hasn’t been a great stretch; something that they needed desperately. The Rangers are now far from a playoff spot thanks to the evenly-split skid. It’s a hard reality to see considering Artemi Panarin‘s recent emergence as the team’s true leader and their plethora of strong goaltending. Still, their very strong top-six makes them an exciting team to watch. As does defenceman Anthony DeAngelo, who has 41 points in 53 games this year. These factors will come into play as the Rangers topple a bad Kings team that’s struggling more than usual. While the meeting should be a fun game to watch, it will be far from the day’s most exciting.
Prediction: Rangers win 3-0.