Welcome back to NHL Predictions. Every day Last Word on Hockey brings you a prediction and analysis of every game on the schedule. In the late-games edition of the February 22nd NHL Predictions, we’ll cover five games. There will also be a featured game and that is must-watch hockey. The featured matchup is between the Boston Bruins vs Vancouver Canucks.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs Arizona Coyotes
Head-to-Head: Lightning 1 – 0 Coyotes
The Tampa Bay Lightning finally lost a game! They went 11 straight before succumbing to the Golden Knights on Thursday night 5-3. That doesn’t make them any less dangerous to a team like the Arizona Coyotes. The Lightning will look to begin yet another winning streak at the hands of a team struggling to stay in the playoff picture. The Lightning learned a lesson from last season’s performance, or lack thereof… when the playoffs came around. It seems they are peaking at the exact correct time this year. And, peaking so much that the Coyotes will feel the pain.
The Arizona Coyotes are just not playing consistently good hockey. They win over the Washington Capitals and the New York Islanders at home and then bomb against the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues on the road. Is it time to implode the Coyotes roster? Will Rick Tocchet be the next head coach to be axed? They’ve gone a terrible 1-9-1 on the road of late and that doesn’t spell P-L-A-Y-O-F-F-S. Although the general manager John Chayka doesn’t like making trades at the deadline, his hand (and his job) may be forced. After spending millions extending contracts for Clayton Keller (13-G, 24-A) and Nick Schmaltz (8-G, 33-A), the team is falling by the wayside… again. In addition, they have spent to the cap limit with little results to show. This is getting ugly!
Prediction: Lightning win 5-2.
Columbus Blue Jackets vs Nashville Predators
Head-to-Head: Blue Jackets 0 – 0 Predators
With the season winding down, these two teams have yet to meet. What a better time than when both teams are fighting for their playoff futures? The Columbus Blue Jackets have fought adversity all season trying to play with a lesser roster and dealing with injuries. The Columbus club sits in the top wild-card spot but not by much. There are four teams vying for a spot and they are within three points of each other. In other words, whatever team gets hot may win the spot.
The Nashville Predators have been making some noise by winning six of their last 10 games. They trail by just three points in the crazy Pacific Division race, but have only played 59 games. That gives them the wonderful gift of games-in-hand. Now, they need to take advantage by winning those vital games. This won’t be an easy game for the Preds. They lack the defensive fortitude like the Blue Jackets possess. The fact that Pekka Rinne is just 18-13-3 with a .898 save percentage to go along with a bulging 3.04 goals-against-average tells a lot. Columbus boasts the fourth-best defence in the league with a .917 save percentage and a stellar 2.43 goals-against-average.
Prediction: Blue Jackets win 3-2.
Boston Bruins vs Vancouver Canucks
Head-to-Head: Bruins 1 – 0 Canucks
*This is NHL predictions featured late game
The Boston Bruins have been playing playoff level hockey most of the season. They are the Eastern Conference point leader, and have been on a good roll. They’ve won four straight, and nine of 10 games to show their dominance. So, what do they do? Trade away David Backes for Ondrej Kase. Even though they retained 25 percent of Backes salary, this just makes the powerful Bruins all the more dominating. Not really sure what motivated the Anaheim Ducks to give up on 24-year-old Kase, but the Bruins came out smelling good in this deal. Just like they will after facing the Canucks.
The Vancouver Canucks have been hit with an injury blow of Brock Boeser being out for the rest of the season with an upper-body affliction. Of course, they too had been active in the trade market, obtaining talented forward Tyler Toffoli recently. That gives them some relief of lost scoring with Boeser being out. The Canucks have cooled off of late going just 4-4-2 in their last 10 games. Playing the Bruins is like torture, and they may succumb to them. The Vancouver club is excellent at home with a 19-7-4 home record. Should be a good game… don’t miss it!
Prediction: Bruins win 4-1.
Florida Panthers vs Vegas Golden Knights
Head-to-Head: Panthers 0 – 1 Golden Knights
The Florida Panthers got smoked earlier this month by the Sin-City hockey team 7-2, so you know they want revenge. It may be tough since the Vegas team is rolling along with a 7-2-1 record in their last 10 games. They passed both the Canucks and the Edmonton Oilers to take over first place in the Pacific Division. The Panthers are needing a winning streak to just stay in the playoff hunt. They’re just two points behind to grab a wild-card berth, but have played two additional games. Don’t underestimate the Panthers on the road, they have a good 16-11-4 record.
The Vegas Golden Knights have been surging lately and have gone 7-2-1 including four straight wins. Adding Alec Martinez via a trade sure won’t hurt them as their defence had been lacking. The Knights are peaking at the correct time to stay competitive again in just their third season in the league. Having a premier goalie like Marc-Andre Fleury certainly helps their success even though he is below his career statistics a bit this season. Having Martinez will settle down whatever ills the defence was suffering.
Prediction: Panthers win 5-4 in overtime.
Colorado Avalanche vs Los Angeles Kings
Head-to-Head: Avalanche 0 – 1 Kings
The Colorado Avalanche can’t afford to lose this game if they intend to stay in the battle for first place in the Western Conference. Right now they are in a three-way fight which is separated by just three points. They hold the games-in-hand advantage so that should help. They lost to the Kings last week and should have no excuse to repeat that again. The Kings have traded away a good forward (Toffoli) and a good D-man (Martinez). They are in the driver’s seat, now they just need to finish the race.
The Los Angeles Kings are definitely becoming the most active seller in the trade deadline deals thus far. They might as well go for the hat-trick and trade a goalie. Gee, a name like Jonathan Quick comes to mind. They’d love to unload his huge AAV contract of $5.8 million to continue their rebuild. It’s not unknown that the Colorado team is in need of a goalie with Philipp Grubauer out for a while. They have some cap space of more than $28 million but may not want to go after Quick. What the Kings can do is help spoil the Av’s aspirations of getting out on top of the conference standings. Nah…
Prediction: Avalanche win 6-2.
That’s it for this edition of late games NHL predictions. Be sure to follow the early games as well.