Welcome back to another day of NHL Predictions. Each day, Last Word on Hockey takes a look at the games that are happening and gives our predictions for each one. Breaking down head-to-head and other factors that may play in. We also have a featured game of the day which is considered must-watch TV. Today’s featured game is the Tampa Bay Lightning vs Toronto Maple Leafs.
NHL Predictions with Tampa Bay Lightning vs Toronto Maple Leafs
Tampa Bay Lightning vs Toronto Maple Leafs
Head-to-Head: Lightning 0 – 0 Maple Leafs
This will be the first matchup between the Tampa Bay Lightning vs Toronto Maple Leafs in nearly two years. Both teams are off to disappointing starts given the expectations this season. This is not technically a “late” game but was needed to even out the schedule. You can find the early predictions here. This should be an entertaining tilt between two of the best teams on paper in the Atlantic division. Obviously, the Lightning will still be without Nikita Kucherov. However, they should still have plenty of firepower upfront. Despite the slow start, both teams are on three-game win streaks which have seen them rise up the standings to second and third in their division. These will be crucial points for early season momentum.
The Maple Leafs have found their rhythm after a few embarrassing losses last week. However, a bounce-back against a couple of injured and lesser teams (on paper) has them feeling themselves again. John Tavares has come alive in the last two games and Mitch Marner scored a beauty on Tuesday. Auston Matthews also found his way onto the scoresheet a couple of times. This team lives and dies by their top players. If they are hot, it is bad news for whoever they play. This could be a fast-paced and high-scoring game. The Tampa offence won’t be afraid to go toe-to-toe with this Toronto team either. Expect a bunch of chances both ways.
Prediction: Maple Leafs win 4-3 in Overtime.
Dallas Stars vs Calgary Flames
Head-to-Head: Stars 0 – 0 Flames
The Dallas Stars have gotten off to a meagre 3-4-2 start this season which places them near the bottom of the standings. Still trying to find their legs, they have just looked a step behind the play at times. It hasn’t helped that they have missed Jason Robertson for a large start of the season but that shouldn’t derail the whole thing. The Stars will look to get off the losing skid as they have dropped four games in a row. The one bright spot has been Braden Holtby who despite only winning two games, has a .924 save percentage.
On the other side of things, the Calgary Flames are off to a great start and playing the exact style of hockey Darryl Sutter likes. Strong defensively and take your chances when they come. Jacob Markstrom is looking like his old self which would be a huge boost for this team. They desperately missed his solid play last year when he was struggling. Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm have 11 points each. Look for them to keep rolling.
Prediction: Flames win 3-1.
Buffalo Sabres vs Seattle Kraken
Head-to-Head: Sabres 0 – 0 Kraken
After a strong start, the Sabres have cooled off a little bit. They have dropped two in a row but are still a very respectable 5-3-1. It was very clear this team is not built to win this season but if they can be a hard out every night what more can you ask for? They are playing solid hockey too, it hasn’t just been all luck to start. Very responsible defensively which is how a team that lacks the high-end finishing talent needs to play.
The Seattle Kraken haven’t had the greatest of starts. Currently last in the Pacific division, their 3-6-1 record isn’t the start they were hoping for. One of the questions everyone had heading into the season was who would score for this team? So far, that has been an issue. Jared McCann leads the team with seven points. However, Yanni Gourde missed time and already has five in just six games. Look for those two to lead the offence again tonight with help from captain Mark Giordano from the blueline.
Prediction: Kraken win 4-1.
St. Louis Blues vs San Jose Sharks
Head-to-Head: Blues 0 – 0 Sharks
The Blues have been off to an amazing start going 6-1-0 in their first seven games. One of the best offseason moves may show to be one they didn’t make. That being the decision to keep Vladimir Tarasenko. He had requested a trade in the offseason and the two sides seemed destined for a split. However, the Blues didn’t like the offers and kept him. Tarasenko now has nine points in seven games, eight of those in his last five. They say winning cures all, if this pace keeps up maybe the Blues and Tarasenko stay together after all?
The Sharks have also started the year off well. However, it may be a bit of smoke and mirrors. Possession doesn’t favour San Jose, no matter how you look at it. Give them credit, they have gutted out some wins. Like when they lost five players and their head coach before game time to COVID protocols. It was a partial AHL roster out there and they got two points. Although, they need to start controlling games more to stay near the top of the division.
Prediction: Blues win 6-3.