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 Florida Panthers vs Tampa Bay Lightning.
NHL Predictions with Florida Panthers vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Boston Bruins vs New Jersey Devils
Head-to-Head: Bruins 0 – 0 Devils
The Devils have been on a bit of a heater here. New Jersey has won three straight and has outscored their opponents 14-5 in that span. After a convincing 7-3 win over the Panthers, they followed that up with a shutout win over the Islanders. For a team that was wondering how they’d do offensively with the injuries they’re facing, they’ve sure done a bang-up job.
The Boston Bruins are getting continued production out of their top line but outside of that the production really falls off. Taylor Hall was the ire of coach Bruce Cassidy’s scrutiny the other game. After getting benched in the third for an offensive zone penalty against Ottawa, Taylor Hall followed that up with zero points and a minus-two against the Oilers. He’ll have a chance to rebound against another former club tonight. I think he does.
Boston wins 4-2
New York Rangers vs Columbus Blue Jackets
Head-to-Head: Rangers 1 – 0 Blue Jackets
The previous meeting between these two clubs ended in a shutout win for the Rangers. New York flexed its goalie strength and shut the door on the Blue Jackets and I believe this matchup will be no different.
The Blue Jackets are without Patrik Laine and still await the return of forward Max Domi. I’m not so sure the Blue Jackets have the scoring depth to keep up with a Rangers team that is coming off a confidence-boosting win against the high-flying Florida Panthers.
The Blue Jackets have made the most out of home-ice advantage this year, sporting a 5-1 record at Nationwide Arena. That fan boost could perhaps propel the ‘Jackets to a home win against the upstart Rangers.
I’m going with New York in this one.
Rangers win 3-1
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Ottawa Senators
Head-to-Head: Penguins 0 – 0 Senators
The Senators have just one win in their last 10 games and I don’t think they buck that trend tonight. Ottawa has received abysmal goaltending performances from Matt Murray and Anton Forsberg. Those two have conceded the fourth most goals scored against them this year.
The Penguins may still be without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin but they have had no trouble finding the back of the net this year. They are averaging 3.08 GF/G, good for 12th in the league. The only saving grace for the Senators is that Casey DeSmith will be in the net for the Penguins. Casey has struggled in his two starts for the Pens, allowing a combined nine goals in those games.
Looks like we may get a high-scoring affair in this one.
Penguins win 5-4
Florida Panthers vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Head-to-Head: Panthers 1 – 0 Lightning
Our feature matchup in the early games is going to be a game against in-state rivals, Florida Panthers, and Tampa Bay Lightning. The state of Florida has been blessed with some incredible hockey to watch these last couple of years. And these matchups between the two haven’t disappointed. Their recent playoff series last year has only intensified the rivalry and we should expect another fast-paced, entertaining game tonight.
Florida comes into this game in the midst of their worst stretch of the season. After starting the year 8-0 they have now lost three in a row and four of their last six. Facing Tampa isn’t quite the break you’d hope for to end this slump either. Another stat to point out is that Florida has not fared well on the road against Tampa. They are 4-12 on the road vs the Bolts since 2017.
Tampa hasn’t quite been their dominant self this year but they do look to finally be turning it around. Tampa has picked up points in six straight games, so they have been rolling as of late. Have they finally found their groove? I think they have. Everything points towards Tampa in this one but I am going against all statistics here and taking the Cats in Tampa. Florida is just too good to go on a four-game losing streak.
Florida wins 4-3 in overtime