Welcome back to NHL Predictions, March 25th edition! Each day, the Last Word On Hockey team will break down every game and give our NHL predictions for each. This is the second of three sets of games for March 25th featuring the Toronto Maple Leafs vs Ottawa Senators. Be sure and check out the other two sets of NHL Predictions as well.
**All statistics from this article have been sourced from hockeyreference.com unless otherwise stated.
NHL Predictions March 25th Featuring Toronto Maple Leafs vs Ottawa Senators
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Ottawa Senators
Head-To-Head: Maple Leafs 3 – 2 Senators
Two teams on opposite ends of the North Division standings square off for the sixth time this season in The Battle of Ontario. The Toronto Maple Leafs (20-10-2) sit atop the North but are now tied with the Edmonton Oilers with 42 points. The Winnipeg Jets are also breathing down their neck, just two points back. Toronto found out they will be without starting goalie Frederik Andersen for at least a week with a lower-body injury. Small issue, given how well Jack Campbell has played lately. He is undefeated in his four starts this season with a stellar 1.00 goals-against average and .965 save percentage. Two of those wins have also been shutouts. Add to that the combination of Mitch Marner (12 goals, 28 assists) and Auston Matthews and this could spell a whole lot of trouble for the Sens.
The Ottawa Senators (12-20-3) are on a two-game winning streak, having beaten the Calgary Flames 2-1 on Monday and 3-1 yesterday. They also have not been a pushover the high-powered Leafs winning two of five this year. They are not without their own goaltending woes, as their top three goalies are injured. Fear not though, this is the year of the super backup. Or the backup to the backup. Filip Gustavsson has stopped 63 of 65 shots the last two games and has looked every bit the part of an NHL starter. Will the Sens start him on back-to-back nights? If not another Swede will get the nod. 28-year-old Anton Forsberg has played three games since 2018 and none this season. Keep an eye on that situation.
Prediction: 5-2 Maple Leafs
Buffalo Sabres vs Pittsburg Penguins
Head-To-Head: Sabres 0 – 3
The Buffalo Sabres (6-21-4) will take on the Penguins for the fourth time in 14 days. They have lost the previous three meetings by a combined score of 13-4, including a 5-2 loss last night. There is nothing to like about this current Sabres team, losers of 14 straight games. To add insult to injury, they are without Jack Eichel and Kyle Okposo amongst other players. Want some more? Both Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark are also injured. Just pour more gas on the dumpster fire.
The Pittsburgh Penguins (19-11-2) have been cruising in March, winning nine of 13 games allowing just 25 goals in that span. Sidney Crosby has paced the team on offence with 12 goals and 20 assists this season. They are just four points out of first in the East Division and are not likely to have a hiccup here against these Sabres. Casey DeSmith will get the start in the goal.
Prediction: 4-1 Penguins
St. Louis Blues vs Minnesota Wild
Head-To-Head: 0 – 0
The NHL’s COVID-19 protocols have kept these Western Division rivals separated until now. This will be the first game between the Blues and the Wild this season. The St. Louis Blues (16-11-5) will be playing with heavy hearts after the news of “Mr. Blue” Bob Plager‘s death yesterday. He died in a car accident on Interstate 64. Sitting in fourth place with eight more games against Minnesota who sit third, coach Craig Berube will need to find a way to inspire the team. They have been inconsistent for most of the year, due in large part to injuries. Six regulars will be out of the lineup for this one.
First-year coach Dean Evason has the Minnesota Wild (20-10-1) playing some impressive and surprising hockey this season. They are a smart defensive team, allowing the eight fewest goals per game in the NHL (2.53). The Wild rank 12th in goals scored per game (2.97) showing a solid balance. They are also in good recent form, winning seven of their last nine games. Still, the Blues could rally around one of their greats and win one for Bobby Plager here.
Prediction: 3-2 Blues
Florida Panthers vs Chicago Blackhawks
Head-To-Head: Panthers 4 – 1 Blackhawks
The Florida Panthers (20-8-4) will look to keep pace with the top dog Tampa Bay Lightning in this Central Division tilt. The Panthers have hit the skids recently, losing three of their last four games, including a 3-2 loss to the Blackhawks on Tuesday. It was the first loss to Chicago in five meetings this year. Leading scorer Aleksander Barkov (13 goals, 24 assists) missed Tuesday’s game with a lower-body injury and will also be out for tonight’s game.
The Chicago Blackhawks (15-13-5) are fourth in the Central and just two points ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets. They have struggled in March losing seven of 10 games but snapped a four-game losing streak when they beat the Panthers 3-2 on Tuesday. Patrick Kane (12 goals, 32 assists) has been willing the Hawks to victory in many games and he will need to continue to do so down the stretch.
Predictions: 3-2 Panthers
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