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 Philadelphia Flyers vs Toronto Maple Leafs.
NHL Predictions with Philadelphia Flyers vs Toronto Maple Leafs
Minnesota Wild vs Montreal Canadiens
Head-to-Head: Wild 0-1 Canadiens
The early slate of games tonight has a plethora of mismatches and this one is no exception. The Minnesota Wild walk into the Bell Centre with a 6-1-3 record in their last 10, winner of four of their last five. The Montreal Canadiens, however, have lost five straight and now have their sights squarely set on the draft lottery, just one year removed from the Stanley Cup Finals.
For the Wild, Kevin Fiala has been on an absolutely torrent pace as of late. With 11 points in his last five games, he’s bumped his season total to 73 in 75 games. If he can keep up this pace, he’ll reach the point per game plateau for the first time in his eight-year career. He’ll have a great opportunity to do so against a Canadiens team that ranks 32nd in goals against per game.
Prediction: Wild win 5-1
Detroit Red Wings vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Head-to-Head: Red Wings 0-3 Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning have beaten up on the Detroit Red Wings all season long. They’ve won all three previous matchups and will look for the series sweep tonight.
It’s been a tough season for the Red Wings as they crawl through the rebuilding process. Despite some positive stories, like the emergence of Moritz Seider, they’ve had to learn some hard lessons. One of them is learning how to play on the road in a jeering environment with a line-matching disadvantage. Detroit has really struggled in this department, with a poor 11-22-3 away record. Recently, they did manage to shut out the Carolina Hurricanes on the road in an absolute shocker. That’s at least a small step in the right direction and a good showing tonight against the Lightning would be another.
Despite the win against the ‘Canes, the Red Wings are just way too outmatched here. The Lightning are motivated to secure third place in the Atlantic Division (and maybe even crawl into second), plus they’ve had the Red Wings’ number all year long. It’s the end of the season and there’s little reason to suspect that changes now.
Prediction: Lightning win 4-2
Winnipeg Jets vs New York Rangers
Head-to-Head: Jets 0-1 Rangers
Stick a fork in them, they’re done. The Winnipeg Jets had a glimmer of playoff hope that they’d been clinging to over the last few weeks. Despite being a few spots behind, it looked as if one last hot streak might be enough to give them a shot at the second Wild Card spot. Unfortunately, after rattling off two straight losses on the road in Florida, those hopes were finally, completely dashed. The Jets now find themselves in the dreaded mushy middle of a non-playoff, weak draft position spot.
That type of situation can be effectively demoralizing for a team, especially this late in the season. If the Jets are feeling sorry for themselves, that’ll be an unfortunate clash against a New York Rangers team that is buzzing. The Rangers have won five of their last six, seven of their last 10, and now find themselves tied for first place in the Metropolitan Division. There was a time when the division looked firmly in Carolina’s hands, but after the trade deadline, the Rangers improved in almost every facet of the game.
It’s not just Igor Shesterkin who is winning them games, but rather an entire roster playing sound, responsible hockey. The Rangers have three shutouts in their last five games as a result of that great work. Tonight, it’s fair to expect another dominating performance from a club firing on all cylinders, against another club playing for nil.
Prediction: Rangers win 3-1
Florida Panthers vs New York Islanders
Head-to-Head: Panthers 2-0 Islanders
Flawless. The Florida Panthers look absolutely flawless as of late. They are a perfect 10-0 in their last 10 games and averaging five goals a game in that stretch. It’s been a breathtaking stretch of hockey as the Panthers march down the stretch, first place holders in the Atlantic Division, looking like the best team in hockey. Their +99 goal differential is the best in the league, as are the 317 goals scored on the season. If the Panthers win six of their last seven, they’ll hit 60 wins on the season. Remarkable.
Considering the current state of the Panthers, and the fact that the New York Islanders have lost to them by a combined score of 11-1 in their two games this season, it’d take a crazy person to predict anything other than a Panthers win. Similar to the Jets, the Islanders were recently eliminated from playoff contention and in theory, that should lead to a dispirited effort this evening.
Prediction: Panthers win 5-0
Philadelphia Flyers vs Toronto Maple Leafs
Head-to-Head: Flyers 0-2 Leafs
The last and final mismatch of this slate of games takes us to downtown Toronto for a timely matchup between the Philadelphia Flyers and Toronto Maple Leafs. While each of their respective city’s basketball teams are facing off in a playoff series, things aren’t quite as intense at Scotiabank Arena. Instead, the Leafs are more or less fine-tuning for the playoffs, trying to get healthy, and prep themselves against a difficult round one matchup with either the Lightning or Boston Bruins.
The Flyers, however, are in a whole other world of struggle. Quite a far cry from their NBA counterpart, the Flyers are well-removed from the playoff race. With a 2-8 record in their last 10 games, the only thing they’ve done effectively is secure a better draft position. They’ll need it too, because this year’s rendition of the Flyers is leaving little to look forward to for next year. The Flyers currently rank 30th in goals for per game, 27th in goals against, 26th in penalty killing, and dead last on the powerplay. Even Carter Hart, after a hot start, has cooled down and back to hovering at a .900 save percentage on the season. Everything needs improvement.
All of that adds up to an inferior representation in almost every way against a red-hot Leafs team. They should win this one in a runaway.
Prediction: Leafs win 4-1