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 Chicago Blackhawks vs Tampa Bay Lightning.
NHL Predictions with Chicago Blackhawks vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Nashville Predators vs Buffalo Sabres
Head-to-Head: Predators 0-1 Sabres
Give the Buffalo Sabres credit where it is due. In a season where they absolutely could have folded after trading their former captain, they’ve battled on. Lead by young guns like Tage Thompson and Rasmus Dahlin, as well as an unexpected resurgence from goaltender Craig Anderson, the Sabres have turned in quite a few unexpected performances. In fact, in their last 10 games, they only have one regulation loss, going 6-1-3 in that timespan.
For that reason, this won’t be a cakewalk for the Nashville Predators, despite what the standings may suggest.
The Predators could certainly use a win tonight. They find themselves in the mushy middle of being slightly behind third place in the Central Division, but only a few points above the playoff cut-line in the west. They’ve already lost to the Sabres once this year, on home ice as well, so going 0-2 against a team well below them in the standings would be a major disappointment.
The Sabres will put up a strong fight in this one, and that may be enough to get it to overtime, but the Predators should be able to pull away once there. Three of the last four Sabres losses have been in overtime.
Prediction: Predators win 3-2 (OT)
New York Islanders vs New York Rangers
Head-to-Head: Islanders 1-1 Rangers
The New York Rangers are absolutely buzzing right now. They are 8-2 in their last 10 and doing a great job of holding on to second place in the Metropolitan Division. Leading the way for the Rangers is Chris Kreider, who continues to score goals at an electric pace. He has five goals in his last five games and now sits at 46 for the season. He appears well on his way to scoring 50 for the first time in his 10 year career.
The New York Islanders have been playing decent hockey as of late, but unfortunately for them, it is too little, too late in the playoff race. They are also well-removed from prime draft positioning, so at this point, the only thing left for them is to finish the season strong with a touch of momentum for next year.
As the season has developed, the Islanders went from a team that couldn’t win at home, to a team that has largely struggled on the road. That’s exactly where they will be tonight, in a building where the Rangers have only lost in regulation six times through 31 games. Add in the Rangers decisive advantage on the power play, and this one should be a win for the home club.
Prediction: Rangers win 4-1
Ottawa Senators vs Detroit Red Wings
Head-to-Head: Senators 0-0 Red Wings
Each of these teams enter tonight’s tilt on significant downbeats. The Ottawa Senators and the Detroit Red Wings only have one win in each of their last five games, as things have really started to go off the rails for both clubs. A silver lining, amidst recent struggles, is that the young guns for each of these squads are still showing a lot of promise.
Josh Norris, Tim Stutzle and Brady Tkachuk continue to play inspired hockey for the Sens, while Moritz Seider is sometimes worth the price of admission alone. In a matchup like tonight where there is no playoff implications, these future stars will still be worth a watch.
In that regard, the Senators just have a bit more going right now and should be able to lean on their core of talented young forwards to give them a victory. Add in the fact that Anton Forsberg gives the Sens a distinct advantage in net, and Ottawa should be more than capable of picking up the victory.
Prediction: Senators win 5-4
Chicago Blackhawks vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Head-to-Head: Blackhawks 0-1 Lightning
A healthy Steven Stamkos helps make the Tampa Bay Lightning a dangerous team. We’ve seen what they have been able to do without him in the lineup, but with his presence, he can take their play to the next level. As of late, that’s what’s started to happen. Stamkos has six points in his last three games, and the Lightning has responded with three straight wins. That includes a win against the very good Carolina Hurricanes. Expect him to have a major presence tonight, as well.
For the Chicago Blackhawks, things haven’t been nearly as rosy as of late. They’ve lost three in a row and only have three wins in their last 10 games. A lone bright spot has been the excellent play of Alex DeBrincat, but even his consistent, multi-point performances haven’t been enough on most nights.
On average, the Blackhawks score less than half a goal per game as the Lightning, allow close to a full goal per game more than the Lightning, and have the inferior power play and penalty kill. Add in that the Blackhawks will be on the road, and it looks like Tampa Bay’s fourth straight victory is well within reach.
Prediction: Lightning win 5-2
Embed from Getty Images