NHL Predictions: February 8th with Pittsburgh Penguins vs Boston Bruins

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Boston Bruins
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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 Pittsburgh Penguins vs Boston Bruins. 

NHL Predictions: February 8th Including Pittsburgh Penguins vs Boston Bruins

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Boston Bruins

Head-to-Head: Penguins 0-0 Bruins

A quick glance at the Pittsburgh Penguin’s previous 10 games looks great with their crisp 6-1-3 record. The issue, of course, is that all four of those losses have come in their last four games. It’s not all bad, they still managed a point in three of those contests, but with losses to weaker competition such as the Seattle Kraken, Detroit Red Wings, and Los Angeles Kings, the Penguins are probably pretty hungry to right the ship. After all, their excellent play over the last month has taken them from slugging it out in the wild card to third place in the Metropolitan. That’s a significant leap in a short period of time.

It’s not much of a surprise at this point, but part of Pittsburgh’s recent success is the excellent play of Sidney Crosby. He has nine points in his last five games and looks almost completely back to the level we expect from this elite superstar. Tristan Jarry also factors in as one of Pittsburgh’s best with his 23-8-6 record and sparkling .923 save percentage.

They’ll face off against a Boston Bruins team that remains firmly in the wild card hunt, but a touch of pace behind the top three in the Atlantic Division. The Bruins have suffered at times this year from loose defending and an inconsistent offence. It’s the reason why they remain mid-pack in terms of goals for and against per game, firmly behind the Penguins in each metric. The Bruins can usually boast an edge in special teams thanks to their excellent power play, but it is actually bested by the Penguins’ second-ranked penalty kill.

Overall, the Penguins have the better defence, hotter offence, and the special teams chops to combat Boston. The Penguins should get the win here and improve their already great 14-5-3 road record.

Prediction: Penguins win 4-3 

Carolina Hurricanes vs Ottawa Senators

Head-to-Head: Hurricanes 1-1 Senators

Both of these teams played last night and both at least registered a point. The Carolina Hurricanes lost a close, overtime game to the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-3. Meanwhile, the Ottawa Senators skated to a 4-1 win against the struggling New Jersey Devils.

In pretty much every metric, the Hurricanes are the superior team to the Senators. The Hurricanes are among the league’s elite, while the Senators continue to find their way along the bottom of the mix. In that regard, this game shouldn’t be in doubt. Despite that, there is reason to believe that this Senators team can at least keep it close and push overtime. For one, they are coming off of a big win last night and have some momentum. Second, they’ve managed a few more positive performances in their last 10. That includes a win against the Edmonton Oilers and taking their games against the Hurricanes and Washington Capitals to extra time. This is a scrappy young Ottawa team that is capable of gutting out a strong performance despite key injuries.

One story to watch from the Carolina perspective is defenceman Ethan Bear. He’s been healthy scratched in six of his last nine games. It’ll be interesting to see if he will draw in following a loss on a back-to-back.

Carolina should win this one but the Senators have the ability to at least keep it close with another gutsy effort.

Prediction: Hurricanes win 3-2 (OT)

New Jersey Devils vs Montreal Canadiens

Head-to-Head: Devils 0-0 Canadiens

Well, they’re not all marquee matchups and this one is certainly anything but marquee. Both teams have only a single win in their last 10 games. The New Jersey Devils are riding a seven-game losing streak while the Montreal Canadiens are on a six-game losing streak. By that math, at least one of those streaks has to come to an end tonight which is… something.

The Canadiens and the Devils have both underperformed considerably this season compared to expectations. Some of that is due to injury and key player absences, but a lot of it has to do with lacklustre performances from the players who are available. For the Canadiens, a player like Josh Anderson can simply not afford to be -18, 33 games into his season. For the Devils, internally developed defenders Damon Severson and Ty Smith can not have on-ice goal differentials of -18 and -13 respectively.

The Canadiens will have the rest factor and the Devils are awful on the road (although the Canadiens aren’t very good at home either, so it might as well be a wash). Betting the veterans off of a break isn’t a bad strategy and the Canadiens’ vets should be capable of beating a fragile, tail-spinning New Jersey team.

Prediction: Canadiens win 5-2

Columbus Blue Jackets vs Washington Capitals

Head-to-Head: Blue Jackets 0-2 Capitals

The Washington Capitals will be without Alex Ovechkin who remains absent due to Covid-19. That’ll make things a little tricky for them as they look to find some consistency after middling play leading into the all-star break. They only have two wins in their last five, and five in their last 10. That’s helped sink them into a wild card spot and away from the top three in the Metro. The Capitals look well-clear of the Red Wings and are almost assured of a playoff spot, but the wild card wouldn’t be an ideal finishing place. No team in the league would welcome a first-round matchup against either of the Hurricanes or Florida Panthers. For that reason alone, the Capitals should be more than motivated to get back into the win column on a more consistent basis, starting tonight.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are a below-average team this year. Their defensive play is close to the league’s worst and their offence just doesn’t have nearly enough talent to outscore their mistakes. Their record is below .500 but perhaps a greater indicator is their -23 goal differential. That’s on par with the Senators who are notched several spots lower in the standings.

The Blue Jackets don’t have a lot going on as they head into this game and their mediocre 8-12 road record leaves little inspiration for an upset. The Capitals should get the victory here.

Prediction: Capitals win 4-2

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