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 Toronto Maple Leafs vs New York Islanders.
NHL Predictions: Toronto Maple Leafs vs New York Islanders
Minnesota Wild vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Head-to-Head: Wild 0 – 0 Lightning
Back-to-back games are appearing more and more in the NHL. Both of these teams will be doing just that. The Wild are scheduled to face the hot Florida Panthers on Saturday night before playing this contest. They are tied with the Winnipeg Jets for first place at the time of this writing. Kirill Kaprizov fresh off of his five-year $45 million contract is showing his worth. He has tallied four goals and 11 assists for 15 points in 16 games prior to action on Saturday night. His dominance can be displayed with his Corsi For of 55.8 percent and Relative Corsi of 15.5 percent. In other words, give him the puck. The Lighting like any other team will need to keep tabs on Kaprizov.
The Tampa Bay Lighting, winners of seven of their last nine games, are still playing like the back-to-back champions that they are. Steven Stamkos is playing like a man on a mission. He has collected nine goals and nine assists for 18 points in just 15 games this season. Right up there, leading the offensive charge is centre Alex Killorn who has seven goals and nine assists. So, the Lightning have two players the Wild need to corral if they have plans of collecting two points in this game.
Prediction: Lightning strikes twice… to win this one 4-3 in OT
Buffalo Sabres vs New York Rangers
Head-to-Head: Sabres 0 – 0 Rangers
After beginning the 2021-22 season with a very respectable 5-1-1 record, they have come back to earth since dropping seven of nine to fall even with a 7-7-2 record. Still, they are fifth in the Atlantic Division ahead of the faltering Montreal Canadiens and the COVID struck Ottawa Senators. While the Sabres did indeed trade star Jack Eichel, they have yet to gain anything from the trade. Alex Tuch will be out until January recovering from surgery, and Payton Krebs was assigned to the Sabres AHL affiliate in Rochester. The Sabres are always seeming to try and turn the corner, but bump into a wall. They’re luck won’t change in this matchup.
The New York Rangers meanwhile have been doing quite well sporting a 10-4-3 record and a third place standing in the Metro Division. They have been led by the duo of Adam Fox and Artemi Panarin, who both possess four goals and 12 assists. The Rangers have won four of their last five games and that can only be bad news for the Sabres. Here are two teams headed in completely different directions, and the Rangers will prove that in this game.
Prediction: Rangers in a blowout… 5-1
Calgary Flames vs Boston Bruins
Head-to-Head: Flames 0 – 0 Bruins
Both of these teams are facing back-to-back games before this contest. The Flames are 9-3-5 and sitting strong right behind the Edmonton Oilers who lead the Pacific Division. They have gone 4-2-4 in their last 10 games and could have a better record if they could win some of those overtime games. They’ve dropped four of five and when the season starts winding down, those games where they could have had an extra point may come back to bite them. They are led by the rejuvenated Johnny Gaudreau who has six goals and 13 assists in 17 games before Saturday’s results. Who said he was going to be traded? He is pacing the Flames now, so hold on to him!
The Boston Bruins have Brad Marchand and say what you will about him, he knows how to help his team score. He is seventh in scoring in the NHL with eight goals and 11 assists before Saturday’s action. If the Bruins can keep the games close, they know the Flames ineptness this season with overtime games. With supporting roles from Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, the Bruins should be able to extinguish the Flames… so to speak.
Prediction: Bruins take this one 4-2
Toronto Maple Leafs vs New York Islanders
Head-to-Head: Maple Leafs 0 – 0 Islanders
The Maple Leafs have won five straight and nine of their last 10, are breathing down the necks of the Panthers who have a game in hand on them. The Toronto club is getting outstanding goaltending from Jack Campbell. He is tied with the most wins with 10. He has a .944 save percentage and a 1.63 goals-against-average to lead the NHL. Now if the Leafs could crank up their offence, Campbell could sit pretty. They are ranked 23rd in the NHL in turning on the red light. Their defence conversely, is fourth with an outstanding 2.39 goals-against-average. They should find it easier to score against the Islanders.
The New York Islanders having played their first game in their new UBS arena on Saturday may still be on a high from the excitement, but they still must play the games. The Isles had dropped four straight before Saturday’s inaugural game in their new digs. Even if they win that first game from the pure excitement of their new home, will they be able to stop the Toronto team? Doesn’t seem like a game worth betting on that the Islanders will win, especially since they are dead last in offence in the league. New arena doesn’t equal a team playing poorly of late.
Prediction: Toronto wins easily 4-1