Welcome back to NHL Game Day Predictions. Daily, Last Word on Hockey brings you a prediction and analysis of every game on the schedule. This will also feature a significant game on the schedule that is must-watch hockey. Today’s featured game is the Tampa Bay Lightning vs Montreal Canadiens.
This article will cover the early start games for the night.
Predictions Including Tampa Bay Lightning vs Montreal Canadiens
Minnesota Wild vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
Head-to-Head: Wild 0-0 Maple Leafs
The Minnesota Wild started on a rough note. After a 0-4 start to the campaign, they were able to garner their first win Monday afternoon over the Ottawa Senators, 2-0. Minnesota has exhibited poor pace and poor goaltending all year, which won’t stack up well against the Toronto Maple Leafs‘ high-powered attack. Additionally, the Wild just lost free-agent signing Mats Zuccarello to a lower-body injury, causing another hit to their already mediocre offence.
Toronto is a bit of a different story. They’ve not been as strong as people expected, but have still maintained a 3-2-1 record to begin the season and are coming off a 5-2 trouncing of the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday. They announced today that young defenceman Rasmus Sandin has been sent to the AHL, so expect a more veteran corps on the blueline for now. This game will offer a perspective on the consequences of that decision. With strong starts from the likes of Ilya Mikheyev, Trevor Moore, and Frederik Gauthier however, Toronto’s depth will shine again in this game and gather a win for the Maple Leafs.
Prediction: Toronto wins 4-3 in overtime.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens
Head-to-Head: Lightning 0-0 Canadiens
The Tampa Bay Lightning has been concerningly average throughout their first five games. A 2-2-1 start, including a loss in regulation to the Senators, is not what you’d expect from the reigning Presidents’ Trophy winner. They come into tonight motivated to turn things around, though. They’ve shown flashes of brilliance, including a 7-3 win over Toronto last week, and just need to put all the parts together.
Montreal’s off to a pretty good start. Their last game saw a 6-3 defeat over the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues. Led so far by Jonathan Drouin and Brendan Gallagher (both with six points in five games), Montreal is rolling a balanced attack and winning some games despite a rather average start from goalie Carey Price. However, that average start may catch up to them tonight against a strong and angry Tampa Bay team.
Prediction: Tampa Bay wins 4-2.
Arizona Coyotes vs. Winnipeg Jets
Head-to-Head: Coyotes 0-0 Jets
The Arizona Coyotes head to their long-ago home to play a very interesting team in the Winnipeg Jets. Arizona’s off to a 1-2-1 start, and nothing much seems to have changed from last year. Newcomer Phil Kessel is getting off to a rough start with only one assist through four games, while both Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta have provided nothing but solidity in the crease. However, Arizona loses its only true shutdown defenceman in Niklas Hjalmarsson for three months starting tonight due to injury. The impact of this will be extremely underrated, as he gives the Coyotes the defensive edge necessary for them to win hockey games. A significant losing streak may be in their future.
The Jets probably don’t want to hear about holes on defence, though. In spite of all their offseason departures and time missed from Dustin Byfuglien and Josh Morrissey, they’ve managed to stay above .500 and play some respectable hockey. They’re rebounding from a significant 7-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins and come into tonight determined to not be embarrassed again. The offensively-minded Jets should take advantage of a defensively-weakened Coyotes team tonight.
Prediction: Winnipeg wins 3-2 in overtime.
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