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 Tampa Bay Lightning vs Toronto Maple Leafs
NHL Predictions with Tampa Bay Lightning vs Toronto Maple Leafs
Boston Bruins vs Carolina Hurricanes
Series: Bruins 3 – 3 Hurricanes
It is the first of our three Game 7’s in the article as today will be loaded with intense hockey. Three good teams will be going home, and three will be moving on. This series has been quite the back-and-forth. The home team has absolutely dominated, winning every game. Game 3 was a score of 4-2, the other five games were 5-1 or 5-2. Overall, it has led to a close series like people predicted, but not exactly the most entertaining games. This one should be different though as Carolina looks to keep the home winning streak alive. Antti Raanta has been solid in net with a .926 save percentage and they will need him to continue that form. He is currently 5th among goalies in the playoffs for GSAA with a 2.17.
On the other side, the Bruins look to get the first road win of the series. It hasn’t been easy for them. Both of their goalies have seen playing time, with Jeremy Swayman winning the net. Charlie McAvoy missed part of the series due to COVID-19 but returned in Game 6. That is a crucial addition as he is the heart and soul of their blueline. Look for Brad Marchand to drag this team in like he has done all series. If he gets on the board, the Bruins have a great shot at winning.
Prediction: Bruins win 4-3 in Overtime.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs Toronto Maple Leafs
Series: Lightning 3 – 3 Maple Leafs
Maybe the most exciting out of all the Game 7’s today, this series has had a couple of amazing games. The first four games were largely blowouts, with Tampa making it interesting in Game 3. However, Game 5 and Game 6 were some of the best hockey games you can watch. The Leafs stormed back from an awful start in Game 5 to win it 4-3. In Game 6, they had the lead until two high sticking calls led to a 5 on 3 which Tampa capitalized on. Tampa would win it in overtime forcing the all-important Game 7.
It is the tale of two narratives heading into this one. Tampa is now 17-0 since 2019-20’s playoffs in games coming off of a loss. They always just seem cool, calm, and collected. There is no doubt that they will come out and play hard tonight. The one X-Factor is Andrei Vasilevskiy. He has looked very mediocre so far this series and you know Tampa would love if he could steal one for them.
As for Toronto, it is once again time to face the music. Four straight playoff appearances have come down to a win and go on, lose and go home game. They are 0-4 so far. Can they get it done this time? The good news is that John Tavares finally looked like his old self in Game 6, which is critical if they want to win. All the big names have had good games at times in this series, now it all needs to come together at once. Intensity off the first puck drop is what Sheldon Keefe will be preaching. If the Leafs play as they have for every game of this series but Games 2 and 4, they should feel confident they can do it. Will history prevail or will a new narrative be written?
Prediction: Lightning win 3-2.
Los Angeles Kings vs Edmonton Oilers
Series: Kings 3 – 3 Oilers
The Edmonton Oilers forced a Game 7 off the back of Connor McDavid and his three-point night. They will also be getting Darnell Nurse back who took an idiotic suspension for his headbutt in Game 5. This series has been an interesting one. At times, McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have just been way too much to handle. However, in the games that Phillip Danault and the Kings have been able to limit them, the Kings depth has been successful. It may all come down to goaltending. Mike Smith has had some truly awful games this series. He needs to be average at least tonight.
On the other side of things, Jonathan Quick has looked pretty good at times. He too has had off nights, but he’s also helped LA stay in it much more than his counterpart at the other end. With no Drew Doughty, Sean Durzi has stepped up and has one hell of a series. You have to wonder if the Kings would have put this away already if they had Doughty and Viktor Arvidsson? Regardless, this should be a close one too. In the end, it may be the high-end talent that wins out.
Prediction: Oilers win 5-3.