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 late-game NHL predictions, we’ll cover the four of the seven games happening on March 8th. Each piece will include a featured game that should be must-watch hockey. The featured game for this article is the matchup between the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks.
Minnesota Wild vs Anaheim Ducks
Head-to-Head: Wild 1 – 1 Ducks
The Minnesota Wild continue to surpass expectations, with a 7-3-0 record in their last 10 games. With that said, though, the success is admittedly thin-veiled. Of these previous 10 games, six have been decided by two-or-less goals. In fact, of the Wild’s last 20 games, nine were one-goal differences. So while the team has found their way into the playoff race, it’s been by the skin of their teeth. This was best showcased on Saturday when Minnesota emphatically lost to the bottom-dwelling Los Angeles Kings. The final score of that matchup was an embarrassing 7-3, showing what can happen when luck isn’t on Minnesota’s side.
Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks aren’t leaving room for any doubt: they’ve just been blatantly poor. In their own last 10 games, they’ve gone 4-5-1, continuing to struggle in a season that has never been in their favour. They rank among the bottom of the league in scoring and are now without elite goal-scorer Ondrej Kase, who was traded at the Deadline. With that all in mind, though, the Ducks are coming off of wins against both the Colorado Avalanche and Toronto Maple Leafs. Both teams are widely considered to be among the best in the league, showing a glimmer of hope in Anaheim.
While Minnesota, who is in a very tight playoff race, is sure to come out kicking; Anaheim could continue their streak of surprises on Sunday, against a Wild team that just got whooped by the Kings.
Prediction: Ducks win 3-2.
Columbus Blue Jackets vs Vancouver Canucks
Head-to-Head: Blue Jackets 0 – 0 Canucks
Arguably the closest match of the day features two seemingly identical teams. Both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Vancouver Canucks are fighting tooth-and-nail for a playoff spot but have struggled to remain consistent. Of course, that’s a bit more true for Columbus in particular. The Blue Jackets had a terrific stretch between January and February, going 9-0-1 at one time. But since that streak ended, the Blue Jackets have fallen entirely apart. They’ve gone 2-6-6 in their last 14 games, looking like the league bottom-dweller that many fans thought they’d be before the season started. This comes at a time where Columbus needs wins, as they currently sit in possession of the Eastern Conference’s second Wild Card.
The Vancouver Canucks have also struggled to stay as a dominant force as of late. In their last 11 games, they’ve gone 5-5-1; a far cry from the 14-3-0 stretch they had between late December to early February. Much like Columbus, the Canucks are desperate for wins, as they cling to a tied Wild Card in the Western Conference. While the two teams don’t directly affect one another, Sunday’s matchup between Vancouver and Columbus is going to be a tremendously exciting bout that could, quite frankly, decide the entire outcome of each team’s season. With both Wild Card races so tight, one loss could be all the difference. This makes it hard to rely solely on stats, although those stats don’t seem to differentiate the teams much either. It will be a closely-fought affair but, in the end, the tad-more-reliable Canucks will likely end up on top.
Prediction: Canucks win 2-1.
Colorado Avalanche vs San Jose Sharks
Head-to-Head: Avalanche 1 – 0 Sharks
The Colorado Avalanche have exploded since the start of February. In that stretch, the Avalanche have gone 12-4-2: 7-1-2 in their last 10 games alone. Like a fine wine, the arguably league-best Avalanche offence is getting better-and-better with age. Colorado has done the impossible this year and are now holding a torch to the Blues for the lead in the Western Conference.
Meanwhile, the San Jose Sharks have gone 3-6-1 in their last 10, continuing to look like the polar opposite of the team that made the Western Conference Final last season. It’s been a terrible year for San Jose, peaking when they fired legendary head coach Pete DeBoer earlier in the year. Since that firing, the Sharks have gone 14-18-3, simply seeming to give up on the year. Their skaters have struggled to score and their goalies have continued to look poor. Against a terrifying Avalanche offence, the Sharks simply can not compete. Colorado gets an easy win in this outing.
Prediction: Avalanche win 4-1.
St. Louis Blues vs Chicago Blackhawks
Head-to-Head: Blues 3 – 0 Blackhawks
The St. Louis Blues just had their eight-game win-streak ended by the New Jersey Devils in a game that the Blues simply looked out of form in. After such a red-hot streak, the Blues seemed to phone it in against New Jersey and they paid the price because of it. The loss, above all else, sparked a fire under the Blues, who were getting complacent on top of the league. With Sunday’s matchup, they get the perfect chance to build off of this fire as they face off against their bitter rivals for the last time this season.
The Blues rally shouldn’t take much work, either. While the Devils clearly proved that the Blues can’t undervalue anyone, the Chicago Blackhawks do not boast much of a threat. The Hawks are well out of a playoff spot and have gone 5-5-0 in their last 10 games, 7-9-2 in their last 18. A losing season has only continued to get worse in Chicago and, while stars like Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat can certainly create fireworks, the Blues are simply the better team here. They will easily pull away with the win on the shoulders of red-hot goalie Jake Allen.
Prediction: Blues win 5-2.