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 Boston Bruins vs Pittsburgh Penguins.
NHL Predictions with Boston Bruins vs Pittsburgh Penguins
Philadelphia Flyers vs Montreal Canadiens
Head-to-Head: Flyers 0-2 Canadiens
Not much on the line in this one, with both teams well-set in the basement of the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia Flyers fans may be rooting for a loss here to help drive them behind the Seattle Kraken for third last in the league. Considering the Flyers have lost six in a row, there’s a good chance that could happen. The issue? The Montreal Canadiens have also lost six in a row.
There is at least one reason to think the Canadiens can return to the win column tonight, however. Carey Price is back and despite having an 0-2 record, has played pretty well. He was excellent against the Minnesota Wild in his latest start, and he should be able to carry that momentum forward. A victory on home ice would be a good story for both Price and the organization, a small win at the tail-end of a disappointing season.
Prediction: Canadiens win 3-1
Detroit Red Wings vs Florida Panthers
Head-to-Head: Red Wings 0-3 Panthers
The last time these two teams met, on April 17th, the Florida Panthers skated off to a convincing 6-1 win. Since then, the deck has only stacked further against the Detroit Red Wings. The Panthers are now on a whopping 11 game winning streak, have bumped their goal differential to +100, and sit tied with the Colorado Avalanche for top spot in the league. Not only that, but Jonathan Huberdeau is now leading the league in points and tonight’s game will take place at home for the Panthers where they are 32-6.
Someone might be crazy enough to bet the Red Wings as an extreme long shot, but that’s not the case here. Panthers will likely lock this one up even more than usual as they prep for playoff hockey.
Prediction: Panthers win 5-0
Buffalo Sabres vs New Jersey Devils
Head-to-Head: Sabres 0-2 Devils
The Buffalo Sabres have been out of the playoff race for a while, but admittedly, they’ve been one of the more fun teams to watch down the stretch. Tage Thompson has been a goal scoring machine, Alex Tuch has fit in like a glove, Rasmus Dahlin has had his best year as a pro, and the late addition of Owen Power has added yet another wrinkle of entertainment. It gets said every year by bottom dwellers that “next year is the year” but in this case the Sabres are legitimately building some momentum for next season. A win tonight against the New Jersey Devils, a team that’s had their number all year, would be just another notch in their belt.
The Devils could be vulnerable here too. They are back at home after a long, five game road trip out west. That can typically spell trouble for teams and the Sabres look ripe to exploit that.
Prediction: Sabres win 4-2
Winnipeg Jets vs Carolina Hurricanes
Head-to-Head: Jets 0-1 Hurricanes
This is exactly the type of matchup the Carolina Hurricanes need right now. They’ve been struggling to find consistency for a while now, and have watched their lead in the Metropolitan Division diminish to a tie. Frederik Andersen is now hurt and suddenly the Hurricanes’ look a bit vulnerable heading into the postseason. They need to start stringing wins together in a hurry to get back on track.
Tonight’s a great opportunity. The Winnipeg Jets were just officially eliminated from the playoffs and have now lost three in a row. Plus, this will be the sixth road game in a row for the Jets, making fatigue a legitimate factor. The Hurricanes must take advantage of this opportunity, or they could see themselves slip to second in the division as soon as tonight. It seems reasonable that Carolina can accomplish that task.
Prediction: Hurricanes win 3-0
New York Rangers vs New York Islanders
Head-to-Head: Rangers 1-2 Islanders
Strangely enough, the New York Islanders lead the New York Rangers 2-1 in the season series. That’s despite the Rangers sizeable gap ahead in the standings. If only the Islanders had avoided their awful start, then this may have been a match with serious playoff implications. Unfortunately, the only thing at stake here is the opportunity for the Islanders to play spoiler. A Rangers win tonight will keep them on pace – or even ahead – of the Hurricanes for first place in the Metro. A Rangers loss would make first place a difficult summit to achieve, considering the Hurricanes soft closing schedule.
Thankfully for the Rangers, a win looks more than likely tonight. The team has three wins in a row (all against non-playoff teams) and in all cases, they shutout their opponents. They are playing the type of hockey that typically wins games in the playoffs. That style should cause fits for the Islanders who have struggled to score all year long.
Prediction: Rangers win 4-1
Boston Bruins vs Pittsburgh Penguins
Head-to-Head: Bruins 1-1 Penguins
Considering the stakes involved, this is easily matchup of the night. The current standings have the Boston Bruins only a single point behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for third place in the Atlantic Division. Additionally, the Pittsburgh Penguins sit only a single point ahead of the Washington Capitals for third place in the Metropolitan Division. In both cases, finishing third place is a huge deal.
For the Bruins, it could be the difference between facing annual first-round exit’ers, the Toronto Maple Leafs, or staying in the Wild Card and having to face a red-hot Rangers team. For the Penguins, it’s the difference between possibly facing a struggling Hurricanes team (that may be without their starting goaltender) or slipping into the Wild Card and having to face the Panthers.
As a result, both teams will be hyper motivated to pick up two points tonight.
The Bruins enter tonight’s game with a fair bit of momentum. They just beat the Penguins a few nights ago and are fresh off of a huge win against an incredibly tough St. Louis Blues team. The Penguins are in the opposite position. They’ve lost four of their last six and have only three wins in their last 10 games. They’ve been struggling and now starting goaltender Tristan Jarry is out with an injury to his foot.
The Bruins have won more this season and are a very capable road team. They have all the momentum right now and the Penguins are in a vulnerable spot with Jarry out. As a result, this one looks prime for a Boston win.
Prediction: Bruins win 4-3