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 Vancouver Canucks vs Tampa Bay Lightning.
NHL Predictions with Vancouver Canucks vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Philadelphia Flyers vs Boston Bruins
Head-to-Head: Flyers 1 – 1 Bruins
The Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins have already played twice this year and are meeting for the final time. So far, they have split the series, winning one game each. Overall, one team has had a better year than the other but they have both been relatively disappointing. Both dealing with injuries, Philly has been without key acquisition Ryan Ellis for a lot of the season.
This has severely affected their defence core. Boston has had players in and out, but goaltending has been their weak spot. However, Tuukka Rask has signed a contract again as they look for him to be a stabilizing force. Unfortunately for Jeremy Swayman, who has played better than Linus Ullmark, Swayman will be sent to the AHL because of his two-way contract and Ullmark’s cap hit. Boston has been on a roll lately, looking to catch the top three in the Atlantic, look for that to continue.
Prediction: Bruins win 4-1.
Vancouver Canucks vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Head-to-Head: Canucks 0 – 0 Lightning
The Vancouver Canucks vs Tampa Bay Lightning is not a game most would have predicted to be a featured matchup even six weeks ago. However, Bruce Boudreau has this team firing on all cylinders lately. They are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games and have managed to bring themselves within six points of a playoff spot right now. The fact that they are even here is insane. Thatcher Demko and his amazing play have been a huge part of this resurgence. The usual saying is you show me a good coach I’ll show you a hot goaltender, and that is certainly helping right now.
The Lightning just keep on chugging along. It doesn’t seem to matter who is out of the lineup, they just find ways to win games. They have been without Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Anthony Cirelli and more at the same time this year and it just doesn’t matter. A win tonight would put them on top of the Atlantic, but with more games played than everyone else. Still, this is a big two points for a team on an Eastern swing. The first game for Vancouver’s Florida trip did not go well, it will be interesting to see if Tampa can try and jump on that momentum or not.
Prediction: Canucks win 3-2.
Columbus Blue Jackets vs Carolina Hurricanes
Head-to-Head: Jackets 0 – 2 Hurricanes
In the third meeting between these teams, the Blue Jackets look to change their fate. The first two games have been pretty big Canes wins, a 7-4 and 5-1 victory. The Jackets will look to turn things tonight and get their season back on track. 3-6-1 in their last 10 is not a record that will have you surviving in the Metro for long. While they have been better than expected this season, the playoffs are quickly fading away.
Carolina looks like a President’s Trophy candidate, however. They took a bet on goaltending and has it ever paid off. Frederik Andersen is having his best season maybe ever, and it has complemented the defence and offence that both are pretty deep. They are tied for first in the Metro but have four fewer games played, a win tonight would have them in sole possession. They are 8-1-1 in their last 10 and look to keep things going tonight.
Prediction: Hurricanes win 5-3.
Winnipeg Jets vs Detroit Red Wings
Head-to-Head: Jets 0 – 0 Wings
These two teams are in similar spots in the standings but feel opposite ways about it. Both on the outside of the playoffs looking in, that is unexpected for a Jets team that had high hopes. Connor Hellebuyck in net, a dynamic offence, and a revamped defence in the summer, this team was supposed to be a threat. However, their coach Paul Maurice stepped down halfway through the season and things haven’t gotten much better since then.
Detroit, however, is thrilled to be right on the playoff bubble. With points percentage their a little farther away due to games played. But strictly points, they are five points behind Boston. Again, with games in hand for Boston that will likely grow even more, but not many thought the Red Wings would be in striking distance of a spot in mid-January, yet here they are.
Prediction: Jets win 4-2.
New Jersey Devils vs New York Islanders
Head-to-Head: Devils 1 – 1 Islanders
The New Jersey Devils have had another disappointing season. With pickups such as Tomas Tatar and especially Dougie Hamilton, they were expected to take another step this season. Instead, they find themselves with 33 points in 36 games and currently 12th in the conference. Losing breakout star Jack Hughes for a while didn’t help but any good team is supposed to have depth.
Speaking of disappointing seasons, it has all gone wrong for the Islanders so far. Dead last in the Metro with just 26 points in 28 games, this is looking like a lost season. They started the year on a very long road trip while their new building was getting finished up. However, returning home was a disaster too as they lost their first seven home games! That stretch alone has put them out of reach. Combine it with a lack of games played thanks to things such as COVID, and you have a miserable season. They have won two in a row and look to make it three tonight though.
Prediction: Islanders win 5-4.