Welcome back to NHL Predictions, February 28th edition! Each day, the Last Word On Hockey team will break down every game and give our NHL predictions for each game. There are six games on the NHL schedule for Sunday and today’s edition of NHL Predictions will feature the Boston Bruins vs New York Rangers.
Boston Bruins vs. New York Rangers
Head-to-Head: Bruins 2 – 1 Rangers
The Bruins will look to bounce back and wrap up their 3 game road trip in New York with a second matchup vs the Rangers. Boston, coming off a 7-3 loss to the Islanders on Thursday took another thrashing at the hands of these Rangers, Friday, losing 6-2. Boston had won the previous two matchups this season 3-2 (OTW) and 1-0. Matt Grzelyck will make his return to the lineup for the Bruins, but David Krejci, Jeremy Lauzon and Kevan Miller are back in Boston. Artemi Panarin (personal) and Jacob Trouba will be out for New York.
Look for Boston to put in an extraordinary effort in this matchup. Coach Bruce Cassidy has called out the defence and middle group of forwards to step up their game. A tight, defensive game should be in the works.
Prediction: Bruins win 2-1
Philadelphia Flyers vs Buffalo Sabres
Head-to-Head: Flyers 2 – 1 Sabres
The Flyers and Sabres will go at it for the 2nd afternoon in a row, Sunday. Philly took the opener convincingly 3-0, outshooting the Sabres 39-23 in the process. Buffalo is 2-6-1 in their last 9 and nothing seems to be going right. Forward Jack Eichel is expected to miss this game again with a lower-body injury, while $9 million for Jeff Skinner continues to be a healthy scratch. The Flyers are starting to get healthy and have looked better after their 7-3 loss in Lake Tahoe. It is looking like a tight 5 horse race for 4 spots in the Eastern Division, where every point counts. Look for the Flyers to feast on the Sabres for points.
Prediction: Flyers win 4-2
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Nashville Predators
Head-to-Head: Predators 4 – 1 Blue Jackets
A battle between two teams on the outside looking in on the Central Division playoff race. Columbus, who has lost 4 in a row, are now 5 points back of the 4th place Blackhawks. Things cannot be pleasant at practice and in the dressing room with Coach John Tortorella. Nashville is 8 points out, albeit with 2 games in hand. The great news for the Preds is they have owned the Jackets this season going 4-1 including a 2-1 victory last night. Defenceman Mattias Ekholm returned from injury to score both goals in the contest. This should be another tight one, as these are huge points for both teams. Keep an eye on the starting goalies.
Prediction: Blue Jackets win 3-2
Washington Capitals vs New Jersey Devils
Head-to-Head: Capitals 2 – 0 Devils
Two teams on the opposite side of the Eastern Division standings. The 1st place Washington Capitals have been finding ways to win, despite numerous losses to key players throughout the year. Evgeny Kuznetsov is the latest Capital on the shelf, missing yesterday with a lower-body injury. The big bruising style of hockey has served them well going 11-5-4, despite having only a +3 in goal differential. The 7th place Devils are a young, fast team that may be on the climb in the future. Mackenzie Blackwood has been outstanding for New Jersey with a 5-3-1 record, 2.52 goals-against average and .924 save percentage. He faltered last night against these Caps, as the Devils lost 5-2. Washington is 2-0 vs New Jersey this year. And dating back to the 2014-15 season the Capitals have won 21 of the 27 games played against the two teams. Craig Anderson and Aaron Dell are expected to get the starts in goal. Take the over.
Prediction: Capitals win 5-3
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Islanders
Head-to-Head: Penguins 4 – 1 Islanders
The marquee matchup of the day, at least as far as playoff implications go. The Islanders sit in 3rd place in the East, just a single point ahead of the Penguins who sit in 5th. This is the 6th time these two teams will meet…this month! Pittsburgh is 4-1 in those meetings including 4 in a row. They won yesterday’s matchup when Kris Letang scored with 26 seconds left in the 3 on 3 OT to give the Pens the 4-3 win. Look for New York to try and stifle Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin with a trapping defence in this back-to-back showdown.
Prediction: Penguins win 2-1
Detroit Red Wings vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Head-to-Head: Blackhawks 4- 1 Red Wings
Sunday wraps up with an original six matchup and the 6th matchup between these old rivals this year. Chicago was 4-0 against Detroit until yesterday’s 5-3 loss. Malcolm Subban was not sharp for the Hawks in the net in this one and the last place Wings took full advantage. Unfortunately for the Detroit, rookie of the year candidate Kevin Lankinen should be back in goal tonight. He is 8-3-3 on the year with a 2.59 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage. Even worse news, he is 3-0 against Detroit this season allowing only 3 goals in the 3 games.
Prediction: Blackhawks win 3-1
That does for this edition of NHL Predictions. Stay tuned for a new edition when the calendar flips to March.
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