Welcome back to NHL Predictions. Every day Last Word on Hockey brings you a prediction and analysis of every game on the schedule. In today’s edition of the February 14th NHL Predictions, we’ll cover four games. Today’s featured game is a battle between the Montreal Canadiens and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Montreal Canadiens vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Head-to-Head: Canadiens 1-1 Pittsburgh
The Montreal Canadiens have had a hot run of late, winning nine of their last fourteen games. Being back in the hunt for a playoff spot, every game is essential. With Shea Weber going down for four to six weeks, the team will have to try and fill the large hole he leaves in the lineup. Jeff Petry is more than capable of stepping up and being a top pair defenceman in Weber’s absence, but losing such a key piece during an important run would hurt any team.
The Pittsburgh Penguins currently sit three points back of the division lead with a game in hand over the Washington Capitals. If they can take this game, it moves them within a point of that top division seed. With how strong the Metropolitan division is this season, the difference between first and second could become significant for playoff opponents. The Penguins have been a dominant defensive team this season, allowing very few quality chances against. The Penguins have also lost an important defenceman for them this season in rookie John Marino, who has been a large part of that defensive dominance.
The dynamic of this game is an interesting one. The game has playoff implications for both teams. For the Canadiens, it is the opportunity for playoff berth. For the Penguins it could put them in range for the top seed of the division. Both teams have taken a game off each other this season, and both have a key defenceman injured. It should be a competitive, close game between these two.
Prediction: Penguins win 2-1
Carolina Hurricanes vs. New Jersey Devils
Head-to-Head: Devils 1-0 Hurricanes
The Carolina Hurricanes have been having a good season thus far. They are on pace to finish with 99 points on the season… and finish sixth in the metro and out of a playoff spot. With being in such a good conference, the Hurricanes need to take advantage of games the should win. The top line of Andrei Svechnikov, Sebastian Aho, and Teuvo Teravainen have been great. Aho has six goals and eight points over his last five games, and Svechnikov has seven points over the same time. The Hurricanes have been the best team at generating offence this season at even strength. The Hurricanes need to win and seem poised to.
The New Jersey Devils season has been disappointing, to say the least. They do, however, hold the only win in this matchup this season where they won 5-3. The Devils are coming off a win last night over the Detroit Red Wings, where goaltender MacKenzie Blackwood saved all but one shot on goal. This does mean that goaltender Louis Domingue is likely to start against the Hurricanes. With an 0.882 save percentage so far this season, Domingue doesn’t look the strongest for the Devils. It will be interesting to see if he can turn it around and grab another win for the Devils and make it 2-0 in the season head-to-head.
Prediction: 5-1 Hurricanes
New York Rangers vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Head-to-Head: Rangers 1-0 Blue Jackets
The New York Rangers have an interesting goaltending situation with three NHL calibre goalies. It makes it hard to predict who will play in net, even on the second half of a back-to-back. With Alexandar Georgiev starting last night against the Wild, it’s between Henrik Lundqvist and Igor Shesterkin, both of whom are excellent options. In just seven games, however, Shesterkin has gone 6-1 with a 0.941 save percentage. If he were to be the starting goalie, things certainly would look good for the Rangers.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are also on the second half of a back-to-back for this evening’s game and have just lost three straight. Columbus currently holds a wild card spot over the Hurricanes, but Carolina is quickly approaching with games in hand. The Blue Jackets have gotten an extremely welcome surprise with Elvis Merzlikins, and they’ll need him to continue to step up and steal them games.
Prediction: Blue Jackets win 3-2
San Jose Sharks vs. Winnipeg Jets
Head-to-Head: Sharks 0-2 Jets
For the fourth and final game for tonight, the Winnipeg Jets have a chance at sweeping their season series with the San Jose Sharks. Connor Hellebuyck has earned the Jets seven of a possible ten points in his last five starts. Over that time, he has a 0.930 save percentage. The Jets will likely ride the hot goalie to try and earn themselves another two points against the Sharks. With Paul Maurice fresh off signing an extension to stay with the Jets, it’s time to show why the team is keeping him around.
The Sharks have struggled of late (and all season), going 4-6-0 in their last ten games. Aaron Dell is already confirmed for this game and Martin Jones will play Saturday, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out. The Sharks need to play well defensively against the Jets (something they haven’t done well this season) if they want to have a chance to win because they won’t beat Hellebuyck all that often. This should be an interesting game that could send the Jets into a wildcard spot and the Sharks closer to the bottom.
Prediction: Jets win 4-2
That concludes today’s NHL Predictions for Friday, February 14th. Join us again tomorrow for your daily game predictions.