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 Toronto Maple Leafs vs Tampa Bay Lightning.
NHL Predictions: May 12th Including Toronto Maple Leafs vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Carolina Hurricanes vs Boston Bruins
Series: Hurricanes 3 – 2 Bruins
Home-ice advantage has held true in this series. Seems like whichever side plays at home, dominates this matchup. The Bruins are going to hope this trend continues as they try and fight off elimination tonight.
Antti Raanta looks to have found his groove since returning from injury. he turned aside 33 shots and looked very strong in the Hurricanes’ crease. The Hurricanes are also getting great depth scoring throughout their lineup, something the Bruins can’t say for themselves.
It’s a hard series to predict because on paper the Canes should handle the Bruins easily, especially with the system that coach Rod Brind’Amour has in place. But the pesky Bruins, fuelled by their fans, continue to find a way to battle back.
Home ice advantage is tried and true in this one.
Prediction: Bruins win 3-2
Minnesota Wild vs St. Louis Blues
Series: Wild 2– 3 Blues
The Blues look to have hit their stride and found their goalie. After posting back-to-back 5-2 wins, the Blues have pushed the upstart Minnesota Wild to the brink of elimination.
Close-out games are hard but getting your first crack at it at home certainly helps. Blues coach, Craig Berube, has been out coaching Dean Evason and getting the matchups he wants out on the ice. His job is certainly being made easier by star winger Vladimir Tarasenko finally putting his stamp on the series with a hat-trick last game. Getting Tarasenko going is not what the Wild wants to see.
Minnesota is going to continue to struggle if they can’t find a way to get more production out of their second line of Kevin Fiala, Matthew Boldy, and Frederick Gaudreau. This line was potent in the regular season but has produced just two goals all series. It’s time for the second line to dig deep and shoulder some of the load.
Prediction: Blues win 4-2
Edmonton Oilers vs Los Angeles Kings
Series: Oilers 2 – 3 Kings
The Edmonton Oilers are facing elimination after dropping game five to the Kings in overtime 5-4. It’s been an embarrassing effort for the Oilers the last couple of games. Slow starts and a porous defence have plagued the Blue and Orange. Edmonton has allowed the Kings, who seem to have implemented a 1-3-1 formation, 40+ shots on goal in three straight games. Personnel needs to be better. As Jay Woodcroft said, “Four goals need to be enough to win in the playoffs”.
The Kings have a golden opportunity to close out the Oilers at home tonight. After stumbling in games two and three the Kings have certainly found their way back to form. LA is back to playing their game and it is frustrating the Oilers up and down the ice. The Kings are doing a superb job of limiting the Oilers to any zone time and not allowing them to set up and cycle. Reducing them to trying to score on rushes.
If the Kings stay disciplined and keep this game five-on-five, they’ve got this series in the bag.
Prediction: Kings win 3-2
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Series: Maples Leafs 3 – 2 Lightning
Well after a disastrous start by the Leafs, falling behind 2-0 quickly, Jack Campbell found his form and backstopped the Buds to a 4-3 victory.
Last game the Leafs did something they’ve struggled to do in the past. Come from behind and take control. Scotia Bank arena was electric as Auston Matthews and the gang orchestrated a brilliant comeback and now have the chance, and all the confidence, to get their first series win since 2004.
Closing out a team like the Lightning is no small task though. Especially in front of their raucous fans. Andrei Vasilevskiy and the Bolts have been brilliant in games after losses. Vasilevskiy has extended his streak to 15 wins following a loss. So it’s safe to say the Lightning will be ready for this one.
The key for the Bolts will be a quick start and not handing over the momentum. Steven Stamkos took a high-sticking penalty while on the powerplay when they lead 2-1. The Leafs would score twice on the ensuing four-on-four and would ride the energy from the crowd to score on an odd-man rush just moments later.
Tampa Bay knows how to control a game and it’s time for them to flex those championship muscles and stay alive tonight.
Prediction: Lightning win 4-2