The 2021 NHL season is on the home stretch. The Last Word On Hockey team continues to break down each game and give predictions for each result. This is the first set of three games for May 8th. Today’s featured game is the New York Rangers vs Boston Bruins. Be sure to check out the other two sets of predictions, as teams jockey for playoff position.
NHL Predictions Featuring New York Islanders vs Boston Bruins
Buffalo Sabres vs Pittsburgh Penguins
Head-to-Head: Sabres 1 – 6 Penguins
The Buffalo Sabres (15-33-7) play the final game of their hectic NHL season this afternoon. They are assured of last place overall (the rewards of complete chaos), but have not been going down lightly. They own a respectable 8-9 record since April 2nd with wins against every opponent in the division. Buffalo will leave it all on the ice, but it might not be enough. The Penguins thoroughly beat them Thursday 8-4. Rookie goalie Michael Houser gave up all eight goals in the loss, after winning his first two starts.
The Pittsburgh Penguins (36-16-3) will also wrap up their season but hope to do it on the opposite end of the standings. Pittsburgh sits first in the East Division and would like to secure home ice for the first two rounds of the playoffs. They welcomed back star centre Evgeni Malkin from injury May 3rd after he had missed six weeks with a lower-body injury. He has four assists in the three games since his return. Sidney Crosby and Co. will want to finish strongly and put pressure on the teams chasing them for East supremacy.
Prediction: Penguins get the win…but will it be enough to clinch first? 4-2 Penguins
New York Rangers vs Boston Bruins
The New York Rangers (26-23-6) have had a crazy week, even by their standards. The two games vs the Capitals saw them lose Artemi Panarin to injury and Pavel Buchnevich to suspension. Oh, and they fired President John Davidson and GM Jeff Gorton. You can forgive them if they would like to see the end to this season as soon as possible. They will get their wish this afternoon. There is a bright future in New York with the likes of Panarin, Adam Fox, Kaapo Kakko and 2020 first overall pick Alexis Lafreniere. They looked spent in a 4-0 loss to Boston Thursday, but who can blame them after the penalty-filled fight night on Wednesday.
The Boston Bruins (32-14-7) have three games left in their season and still have an outside shot at first place in the East. They are 11-2-1 since the trade deadline and one of the hottest teams in the NHL. They have recorded four shutout victories and have allowed just one goal four times in those 14 games. The line of David Krejci, Taylor Hall and Craig Smith has been phenomenal, closing the door on those pesky secondary scoring questions. Tuukka Rask will get the start in goal. He has won his last six starts allowing just seven goals and recording two shutouts.
Prediction: Bruins keep the mojo going. 4-1 Bruins
Ottawa Senators vs Winnipeg Jets
Head-to-Head: Senators 3 – 6 Jets
The Ottawa Senators (21-27-5) have been closing out the season strongly. They are 7-1-1 in their last nine games allowing just 1.67 goals per game in that span. Another team with a very bright future and so much youth, they are putting the rest of the league on notice. With three games left in the season look for strong efforts in each game and for the youngsters to leave everything on the ice.
The Winnipeg Jets (28-21-3) are in a dog fight with the Montreal Canadiens for third and fourth place in the North Division. They are just two points clear of the Habs with just two games left. They would like to avoid the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round in hope of finding their game. The Jets had lost seven games in a row before their 4-0 win vs the Calgary Flames on Wednesday. This will be a good test to see if they have turned a corner and are getting into playoff form.
Prediction: The Jets have had success vs the Sens this year. They need this one. 3-2 Jets
New Jersey Devils vs New York Islanders
Head-to-Head: Devils 2 – 5 Islanders
The New Jersey Devils (19-28-7) close out their season series with the Islanders here. New Jersey has won five of their last six games including a 2-1 win versus the Isles on Thursday. The Devils have been getting strong goaltending from the tandem of Mackenzie Blackwood and Scott Wedgewood. They would like nothing more than to play spoiler to their cross-state rival in this one.
The New York Islanders (31-17-6) are stumbling into the postseason having lost three in a row and six of their last eight. They will likely finish fourth in the East Division as they sit three points back of the Bruins with just two games remaining (Boston has three games left). Coach Barry Trotz should have his team ready for this one and try and to carry some momentum into the postseason.
Prediction: Should be another tight-checking affair. 2-1 Islanders
Philadelphia Flyers vs Washington Capitals
Head-to-Head: Flyers 2 – 5 Capitals
The Philadelphia Flyers (24-23-7) play their penultimate game vs the Capitals after winning last night’s contest 4-2 in the opener of the two-game series. It marked just the second win for the Flyers in seven tries against the Caps. Not much defence in the games down the stretch for the Flyers with 7.85 goals per game averaged in the last seven. Expect some more goals in this one.
The Washington Capitals (34-15-5) missed an opportunity to tie the Penguins for first in the East Division last night. They are now two points back with two games to play. The Caps were without Alex Ovechkin (lower-body) as well as Evgeny Kuznetsov (COVID), goalie Ilya Samsonov (COVID) and defenceman Justin Schultz. They might be wise to try and get healthy before the postseason.
Prediction: Caps are too banged up. 4-2 Flyers