Welcome back to NHL Predictions, where the Last Word on Hockey team provides insight into all of today’s games. On Wednesday, February 5th’s edition of NHL Predictions, we’ll take a look at two games. Today’s featured game is a battle between the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. New York Rangers
Head-to-Head: Maple Leafs 1-1 Rangers
For the third and final time this season, the Original Six rivalry between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the New York Rangers is renewed. Both teams will meet for the second time this season at the Madison Square Garden. The Maple Leafs suffered a blow on Monday night versus the Florida Panthers. It´s the start of February, and the Leafs are out of a playoff spot. On Monday, Toronto blew a 3-1 at home against Florida and lost goaltender Frederik Andersen in the process.
It´s the Panthers who leapfrogged the Maple Leafs to the third spot in the Atlantic Division. Both teams are now tied on 63 points, the Panthers have two games in hand on Toronto. The Rangers saw their tiny two-game winning streak come to an end on Monday at home versus the Dallas Stars. The Rangers are currently at least 10 points out of the playoff picture. These games are probably their last beep at making a playoff run or sell prior to the Trade Deadline.
Head-to-head season series, the Maple Leafs have won at the MSG, while the Rangers prevailed at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. The Leafs have won four of their last five games in Manhattan.
Prediction: Maple Leafs win 4-3 in overtime.
Boston Bruins vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Head-to-Head: Bruins 0-1 Blackhawks
The highlighted duel of the night is the battle between another two Original Six rivals. The Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks are both in distinct spots. The Bruins lead the Atlantic Division, although the Tampa Bay Lightning are knocking on the door below the Bruins. Boston had a spectacular return from the bye-week break, winning two road games in back-to-back fashion. It´s not going to be easy for Boston tonight, as they had to travel from Boston to Chicago overnight after facing the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday at TD Garden.
Nevertheless, the Blackhawks are in a rather similar situation, as they played the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday at the Xcel Energy Center. With a 5-1-0 record headed to the break, the Blackhawks came back with an impressive win in Arizona, to pull only three points out of a playoff spot on Saturday. Home play hasn’t been the Blackhawks´ strongest part of the season so far, as they earned only 27 points in 27 home games.
Last season, we didn’t get to see the Bruins-Blackhawks game at the United Center, as both teams met in the Winter Classic at the Notre Dame Stadium. This season, the Hawks beat the Bruins at TD Garden. However, Boston erased a three-goal deficit in the third period to force overtime, at least. In their last eight head-to-head contests at the United Center, they have split four wins apiece. After last Chicago´s victory at this arena against the Bruins, it´s perhaps Boston´s turn to win.
Prediction: Bruins win 4-2.