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 Nashville Predators vs. Toronto Maple Leafs. This is the early game slate of NHL Predictions. Be sure and check out the late games of NHL Predictions too.
Nashville Predators vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
Head-to-Head: Maple Leafs 1 – 0 Predators
This is the NHL Predictions featured early game of the night
The featured game of the night features two teams from different conferences battling for playoff position in the Nashville Predators and Toronto Maple Leafs. While the Maple Leafs took the first meeting, this game has a whole different feel. The Predators currently hold the second wild card spot in the Western Conference as they have been playing playoff-type hockey for the last month or so. Head coach John Hynes is starting to find the right mix with his lineup. Mikael Granlund, who was invisible at the beginning of the season, is turning back into the player that he was in Minnesota. Hynes is also finding a balance between using his goalies of Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros. Both guys are playing well, and that helps the confidence of other players. They still need more from their top players.
Nobody can figure out the Maple Leafs. They can look great one game and look totally lost in the next game. They need to find consistency in their game as the Florida Panthers are chasing them down for the third spot in the Atlantic Division. The Maple Leafs need to bring the same energy to each and every game. Sometimes they look visibly tired. Having Morgan Rielly back will help them. But the team cannot get away from the things they were doing when he was not in the lineup. These are huge points for the Maple Leafs. With six of the next seven games on home ice, Toronto needs as many points as possible. Yes, Auston Matthews has been great on home ice, but the team needs more from the other top guys.
Prediction: Maple Leafs Win 4-3
Buffalo Sabres vs. Montreal Canadiens
Head-to-Head: Sabres 1 – 1 Canadiens
This Atlantic Division game features two teams that are out of playoff contention. The Buffalo Sabres and Montreal Canadiens while mathematically still alive have a slim chance to make the playoffs. The two teams split the early meetings this season as the series shifts to the Bell Centre. Buffalo is coming off a win over the Capitals in a shootout, but it has been all downhill after another great start. The Sabres need to find help for Jack Eichel. For a period, Eichel was carrying this team on his back and was in talks for the Hart Trophy. With the Sabres fading, so too are his chances. What a disappointment Jeff Skinner has been this season. The Sabres have to find a way to get him going as they have him signed for another six seasons.
For the Canadiens, it is all about the future. What does the team do with their 2019 first-round pick Cole Caufield? Loses in three straight have really sunk their chances to make the playoffs. Even with Marc Bergevin staying on as general manager, this team needs help scoring and stopping the puck. Not having Tomas Tatar in the lineup is a real blow. He really was driving this team even before Ilya Kovalchuk showed up. Now it falls on the young players like Max Domi. Domi has shown his ability to step up and with leaders like Brendan Gallagher, the Canadiens will not go down without a fight. This game will be close between two teams fighting for position in the draft lottery.
Prediction: Canadiens win 2-1
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Head-to-Head: Lightning 1 – 0 Flyers
This had the potential for being our NHL Predictions featured game of the night. The Philadelphia Flyers are on a tear. After being out of the playoff picture two weeks ago, the Flyers find themselves sitting in second place in the Metro Division, thanks to a nine-game winning streak. Their first battle with the Tampa Bay Lightning was a close affair with Tampa Bay winning by a score of 1-0. Look for this to be a similar affair. However, this time both teams are playing a lot better. Their previous meeting saw both teams struggling. Just like the Lightning, the Flyers have a loaded lineup with players like Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, Travis Konecny, and Jakub Voracek. With Carter Hart playing much better, the Lightning are in for a battle.
But just like the Flyers, the Lightning have a solid offensive lineup even without Steven Stamkos. However, the biggest problem for the Lightning right now is their defence. Victor Hedman is considered day-to-day with an injury. After climbing back in the standings to sit in second place, the Lightning are struggling again as they have not been as dominant as they once were. Yes, they have built their team for the playoffs, but they need to be playing well heading into the playoffs. Not having two components to their lineup is huge especially against a team that is red hot in the Flyers. Even though their position is safe, they need a win to regain some confidence in their ability to win.
Prediction: Flyers Win 3-2
Carolina Hurricanes vs. New Jersey Devils
Head-to-Head: Hurricanes 1 – 1 Devils
This is a big game in the Metro Division. Not for the New Jersey Devils but for the Carolina Hurricanes. Thanks to a three-game winning streak, the Hurricanes find themselves sitting in the first wild card position in the Eastern Conference. They passed several teams they were chasing. Getting Petr Mrazek back will be a boost to this Hurricanes team. New players like Brady Skjei and Vincent Trocheck are finally adjusting to their new surroundings. Trocheck especially as he has been a factor in the three-game winning streak. Even with the makeshift defence, head coach Rod Brind’Amour got his team believing again in their chances of making the playoffs. If the Hurricanes can keep winning and other teams struggling, they just might get into the top three in the division.
For the Devils, it is all about finishing this season playing spoiler. Even though they want to finish with better odds to get the number one pick, the players are going to give their best efforts on the ice. Throughout their history, the Devils have struggled to play the Hurricanes. For some reason, Carolina gives the Devils fits. The Devils are playing better as of late, but the Hurricanes are hungry. New Jersey can go on a goal-scoring streak at any moment, but defensively they are weak. The Devils still have many flaws on their roster, but will be an exciting team down the road. They will be in tough against a team hungry to make the playoffs. But then again when is a team most dangerous when they have nothing to play for.
Prediction: Hurricanes Win 4-2
Detroit Red Wings vs. Washington Capitals
Head-to-Head: Capitals 1 – 0 Red Wings
This is the second meeting of the season between the Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings. These two teams will meet twice over the next couple of weeks to close out their season series. The Capitals took the first meeting of the season by a score of 5-2. The Red Wings have been trying their best this season, but it is all about the first pick for them. With their loss the other night, they locked up the best odds to draft first. Even still the Red Wings will be a tough out. When a team does not come to compete or takes them lightly, that team will struggle. Capitals need to take this team seriously, even though, they ranked 31st in the standings.
The Capitals are struggling a bit as of late. They only have two wins in their last five games. One of their losses was a shootout loss to the Sabres, who are also outside of playoff contention. Washington is still in a battle for the top spot in the Metro with the Flyers. They currently hold the top spot because of their loser point against the Sabres. Like the Lightning, the Capitals need to regain some confidence. They were one of the more dominant teams all season, but now they are struggling. Even with that offence that includes Alex Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Evgeny Kuznetsov, John Carlson, and more. The Capitals should be dominant as they did in their previous meeting.
Prediction: Capitals Win 5-1
That does it for NHL Predictions for the early games for March 12th
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