Welcome back to NHL Predictions, February 1st edition! Each day, the Last Word on Hockey team will break down every game and give our NHL predictions for each game.
Detroit Red Wings vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Head-to-Head: Red Wings 0-0 Lightning
It’s another installment of the Steve Yzerman Bowl where the Detroit Red Wings take on the Tampa Bay Lightning. Detroit is off to a 2-6-2 start, but there are signs of life with the team. They’ve kept games close with the exception of a blowout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks earlier in the season. Tyler Bertuzzi, who didn’t play in Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers, leads the Red Wings with five goals while Filip Hronek has dished out six assists. The Red Wings will get some reinforcements as Robby Fabbri and Adam Erne will return. Sam Gagner and Jon Merrill may be back and Filip Zadina could return on Friday.
The power play has been the bane of Detroit’s existence in the early part of the season. Detroit is 4 of 34 and only scoring at an 11.8 percent clip and their penalty kill is last at 64.5 percent. Goaltending has also been a problem as Jonathan Bernier and Thomas Greiss have a goals-against-average of three per game.
Tampa Bay is playing the part of defending champion very well after sweeping the Nashville Predators over two games. Steven Stamkos just turned 31 on Sunday and leads the team in goals with four while Victor Hedman has six assists. The Lightning are also looking to keep their perfect home record intact when the Red Wings come calling for the first of two games on Wednesday and Friday. Andrei Vasilevskiy has been dynamite in net with a .925 save percentage and 2.14 goals-against-average. The Russian has started all the games for Tampa Bay and that may not change with the games spaced out.
Erik Cernak‘s return meant the Lightning went with 11 forwards and seven defencemen in Sunday’s win over the Predators. However, it seems like the Lightning can plug anyone in and they’d succeed. The game is also at a rare 5:30 p.m. Eastern Time start if you need to shift your fantasy lineups.
Detroit has to stay out of the box or it’ll be a long night against the Stanley Cup champions.
Prediction: Lightning win 5-1.
Boston Bruins vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Head-to-Head: Flyers 0-2 Bruins
The Boston Bruins are looking to make it three straight wins over the Philadelphia Flyers in their eight-game season series. Boston has won four out of its last five and got David Pastrnak back in a 5-3 win over the Washington Capitals. The Bruins rallied for five straight goals after falling into an 0-3 hole against the Caps. Boston routed Philadelphia in their last meeting, 6-1, with two goals each from Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
The B’s are in the top 10 in both power play (seventh at 30 percent) and penalty kill (third at 88.2). Boston has also only lost once in regulation and The Perfection Line is humming along like it does every year. Marchand leads the team in goals with six while Charlie McAvoy has seven assists. Tuukka Rask should get the start after Jaroslav Halak started on Sunday.
Philadelphia is seeking its fifth straight win after getting sweeps over the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils. Joel Farabee got his first career hat trick and Kevin Hayes got the game-winner in the overtime victory over the Islanders on Sunday. The Flyers last loss was that 6-1 drubbing to the Bruins on Jan. 23. However, they’ve outscored their opponents, 15-9, in those four victories. Claude Giroux may not be putting away the goals, but he’s got nine assists so far this season. James van Riemsdyk has rediscovered his game with five goals and eight assists for 13 points this season.
Brian Elliott got the start in the last game, so Carter Hart is likely to get the nod in this one after a game off. Hart has four wins this season for the first-place Flyers. However, Hart was tagged for all six goals in the last Philadelphia loss to Boston last month. His goals-against-average is on the high side at 3.34, but mostly has to do with the game against Boston. Philadelphia does have some concerns with their penalty kill at 23rd overall on a 75.7 percent kill ratio.
This game will likely be a lot closer than the last affair and both teams are hot coming. However, I think the Bruins have just enough to keep pace with the Flyers.
Prediction: Bruins win 3-2 in a shootout.