Welcome back to NHL Predictions! Each day, the Last Word on Hockey team will break down every game and give our NHL predictions for each game. This will also include a featured game that should be must-watch hockey. Tonight’s featured game is the Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers. This is the early game slate of NHL Predictions. Be sure and check out the late games of NHL Predictions too.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Buffalo Sabres
Head-to-Head: Sabres 2 – 0 Penguins
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres are meeting for the third and final time of the season. This has been a one-sided affair and not in the way you would think. The Sabres have beaten the Penguins in the first two meetings of the season and will be looking for the sweep on Thursday night. The Penguins were struggling before winning on Tuesday night against the Ottawa Senators. Sidney Crosby put his team on his back like he said he was going to. The difference in the previous two games was that Conor Sheary was on the Sabres. Now he is back with the Penguins and could be the difference-maker in this matchup.
The Sabres are coming back home after a long four-game road trip. The first game back is never easy to play. With the way the Penguins are playing, the Sabres will be in a rude awakening. However, the Sabres for some reason have the Penguins number. Jack Eichel will not let his team go down that easily. Buffalo is not in the playoff picture but has the ability to play spoiler for teams like the Penguins. However, in this case, the Penguins will extend their winning streak and finally get on the board against the Sabres.
Prediction: Penguins Win 4-1
Montreal Canadiens vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Head-to-Head: Lightning 3 – 0 Canadiens
The Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning meet for the fourth and final of the season on Thursday. Over the past couple of years, the Lightning have owned the Canadiens regardless of the setting. That has not changed this season as the Lightning hold a 3-0 lead over the Canadiens. However, the Lightning are ripe for the pickings. Montreal is coming off a huge win and has the potential to play spoiler. Considering the way the Lightning have been playing on home ice, there could be an upset in the making. However, the Canadiens could be without Tomas Tatar, who got injured on Tuesday night. While the injury doesn’t appear to be long-term, his loss hurts this offence.
However, the Lightning have some injuries they have to deal with as well. Team captain Steven Stamkos will be out 6-8 weeks after having core muscle surgery. His absence leaves a major hole in the Lightning lineup. Even without Stamkos in the lineup, Tampa Bay still has weapons that can produce on offence. Nikita Kucherov has been a Canadiens killer since coming into the league. He will have to put the team on his back as they look to try to get back to the top spot in the Atlantic Division. On paper, this is a game that goes in favour of the Lightning, however, with their recent struggles nothing is guaranteed.
Prediction: Lightning Win 5-3
Boston Bruins vs. Florida Panthers
Head-to-Head: Bruins 1 – 1 Panthers
This Atlantic Division matchup between the Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers have major playoff implications for the Panthers. While the Bruins sit in first place in the division, the Panthers are fighting to get into the playoffs. The Bruins are coming off an emotional victory on Tuesday night against the Lightning and are going to try to avoid a letdown against the Panthers. Boston has more talent than Florida. Just look at their roster with names like Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak the Bruins should win this game easily. However, nothing is given in this league, especially when a team is going up against one that is hungry.
Florida is in the midst of a three-game losing streak and has seen the gap between them and the Toronto Maple Leafs grow. Not to mention, the Panthers have stated that goalie Sergei Bobrovsky is day-to-day with an injury. The $10 million dollar man has not lived up to expectations this season. Florida thought it solved their goalie troubles, however, that has not been the case. Head coach Joel Quenneville has used his back up a lot more this season than people expected. The problem with the Panthers is that they amass all this talent, but can never get the most out of them. This appears to be another lost season for the Panthers.
Prediction: Bruins Win 3-2
Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers
Head-to-Head: Capitals 1 – 1 Rangers
This is the NHL Predictions featured early game of the night
The featured game of the night features two teams in the Metropolitan Division fighting for playoff seeding in the Eastern Conference. The Washington Capitals are battling for the top spot in the division, while the New York Rangers are fighting to just make the playoffs. These two teams have a rich history of playing against each other. The Capitals are coming off a loss and will want to reestablish their dominance. They are holding onto the top spot by a thread. Any slip could see them plummet in the standings. The Capitals schedule is only getting tougher. Three of their next four games come against teams in the Metro Division. Washington is getting back in their groove. Alex Ovechkin‘s chase for 700 definitely had their minds elsewhere. This will be a dangerous teaming coming down the stretch.
The Rangers have hit the skids. After being within two points of a wild-card spot, the Rangers have lost their last three games, two of which, came against the Philadelphia Flyers. It does not help that Chris Kreider will be sidelined for the next 4-6 weeks with a broken foot. This has caused chaos for the Rangers and their lineup. Kreider was playing well with Pavel Buchnevich and Mika Zibanejad. Now the Rangers have to change things up. However, they still have Artemi Panarin. But how long can the Rangers hold on by playing Alexandar Georgiev every night? The good news is Igor Shesterkin is coming back soon, but will that be too little too late?
Prediction: Capitals Win 4-2
Carolina Hurricanes vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Head-to-Head: Flyers 2 – 1 Hurricanes
This fourth and final meeting between the Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers also could have been the featured game of the night. The Hurricanes are on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. Carolina trails the Columbus Blue Jackets by three points and a win against the Flyers could go a long way to help them get back in the playoff picture. The Hurricanes embark on a five-game road trip that sees them play four teams in the Metro Division. This is huge for them as they enter the trip on a three-game losing streak. Things have not been the same since Petr Mrazek and James Reimer went down to injuries. The team is hoping Mrazek can return on the trip.
With all the struggles in the Metro Division, there has been one team that has taken advantage of this and they are the Flyers. The Flyers are riding high as they ended their winning streak came to an end. They are led by Sean Couturier. He makes this team go and with the help of Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux, the Flyers have one of the best lines in the NHL. Not to mention the play of Travis Konecny, James van Riemsdyk, and Kevin Hayes has been excellent during this run. However, if JVR is out for an extended period of time that could hurt the Flyers’ chances of getting home ice in the first round. While Carter Hart has been great at home, he has figured things out on the road. This is a team that nobody wants to play this time of year.
Prediction: Flyers Win 4-3
That does it for NHL Predictions for the early games for March 5th.
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