Welcome back to NHL Predictions! Each day, the Last Word on Hockey team will break down every game and give our NHL predictions for each game. This will also include a featured game that should be must-watch hockey. Tonight’s featured game is the New York Islanders vs. Boston Bruins. This is the early game slate of NHL Predictions. Be sure and check out the late games too.
New York Islanders vs. Boston Bruins
Head-to-Head: Islanders 0 – 0 Bruins
This our NHL predictions featured early game of the night.
This is the first of three meetings between the New York Islanders and Boston Bruins. Both teams enter the game having lost their previous game on Tuesday night. This is a matchup between two of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. The Islanders remain second in the Metropolitan Division behind the Washington Capitals. New York continues to play outstanding defence outside of their last game against the Nashville Predators. Usually, when the Islanders have a lead, they can hold on to it. It will be interesting to see how the Islanders bounce back. They have been a good road team this season and always play the Bruins tough.
Even though the Islanders are playing better than the Bruins right now, the Bruins have won the last seven meetings between these two clubs. The Bruins come into this game with one win in their last seven games. You can clearly see fatigue is setting in after a long march to the Stanley Cup Final last season. Outside the top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak, the Bruins do not have any secondary scoring. This is has been a problem for the Bruins the last two seasons. While the Bruins remain in the top spot in the Atlantic, other teams are starting to catch up. If the Bruins want continued success this season, they will need other players to step up and start scoring. Maybe a favourable matchup will help the Bruins get back on the winning track.
Prediction: Bruins Win 2-1
Dallas Stars vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Head-to-Head: Stars 0 – 0 Lightning
This is the first of two meetings between the Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning. This is a key game for both teams. Both teams are marching their way up the standings in their respective conferences. As the Stars hit the road, they are on a two-game losing streak. The roller coaster ride of the Stars season continues. It is week-to-week with this team. Sometimes you do not know what team will show up. Since the coaching change, the Stars remain competitive in a tough Central Division. Dallas still holds the top wild-card spot in the Western Conference as they play the first of back-to-back games. It is the same old story as the top players need to step up and be their top guys. The goaltending has been much better which has allowed this team to be so successful recently.
As the Lightning head towards the holiday break, they are starting to find their game once again. With wins in three of their last four games, the Lightning finds themselves four points back for the final wild-card spot. Tampa Bay avoided a scare after Nikita Kucherov blocked a shot on Saturday. Though he was listed as day-to-day, he was able to play in the Lightning’s previous game. Having him the lineup makes them a dangerous team. While they have yet to find their mojo from last season, it is good for the Lightning to go through some adversity. Because once they get into playoff contention, they will know what it is like to battle during the tough times.
Prediction: Lightning Win 4-2
Buffalo Sabres vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Head-to-Head: Sabres 0 – 0 Flyers
This is the first of three meetings between the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers. These two teams are battling for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Sabres currently hold the second spot in the Atlantic Division, while the Flyers hold the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. So to say this is a big game is an understatement. The Sabres are looking to salvage their three-game road trip. Buffalo suffered back-to-back loses. Jack Eichel remains on his Hart Trophy pace for the Sabres. He is putting this team on his back. An interesting situation to watch is Jeff Skinner‘s ice time. After starting off the season on a good scoring pace, his ice time has dwindled. However, he can get going at any moment.
After a poor three-game road trip, the Flyers got back in the win column. Carter Hart had another solid performance in net for the Flyers. He continues to play well on home ice for Philadelphia. With games against non-playoff teams in two of their next three games, the Flyers will want to rack up some points before going on their California road trip. The Flyers will be playing for Oskar Lindblom for the rest of the season. Having someone to rally around will help this team. Having Travis Konecny back certainly is helping this offence thrive. He is a big part of this team. Do not let anyone tell you differently.
Prediction: Flyers Win 4-3
Los Angeles Kings vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Head-to-Head: Kings 0 – 0 Blue Jackets
This is the first of two meetings between the Los Angeles Kings and Columbus Blues Jackets. Both teams are not where they want to be in the standings, but they are playing better as of late. The Kings have won four of their last five games as they continue to rebuild. Even though Jonathan Quick was off to a slow start, he has been playing superbly for the Kings lately. If the Kings were in a better position, you might hear Anze Kopitar‘s name in the conversation for the MVP. With Ilya Kovalchuk no longer a member of the Kings, it will be interesting to see who the next domino to leave.
For those who have not watched the Blue Jackets this season, they have deserved a better fate. Even with the departure of all their free-agents this past summer, the Blue Jackets are still putting a competitive team on the ice. There was some question about their goaltending this season, but Joonas Korpisalo has played really well for them this season. It has not helped that injuries continue to pile up as Ryan Murray, Josh Anderson, Sonny Milano, and Zach Werenski are all out of the lineup. However, John Tortorella has not let this team think they can’t compete with any team in the league. That mentality has led to five straight games with a point and wins in three of those games.
Prediction: Blue Jackets Win 3-2
Nashville Predators vs. Ottawa Senators
Head-to-Head: Predators 0 – 0 Senators
This is the first of two meetings between the Nashville Predators and Ottawa Senators. After hitting a rough patch in the schedule, the Predators find themselves on the outside looking in on the playoff picture. However, after back to back wins, the Predators are inching closer to a wild-card spot in the Western Conference. With the Central Division so close, any losing or winning streak can make or break a team’s playoff hopes. Defence and goaltending continue to carry the Predators. It has been the defencemen who have been scoring the goals of late. If the Predators want any chance in a tough Western Conference, they need for their offensive stars to perform.
For a long time, the Senators have been known as the Pesky Sens for a reason. Just like the Blue Jackets, the Senators are not being held back because of their position in the standings. Ottawa has great young pieces they can build around. Anthony Duclair has finally found a home in Ottawa. He continues to light up the scoreboard as he has 19 goals in 35 games this season. Let’s not forget about Brady Tkachuk, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and Thomas Chabot, who by the way played 38 minutes in Ottawa’s last game. This will not be an easy game for the Predators. The Senators are never out of any game and will fight until the end.
Prediction: Predators Win 3-2
That does it for NHL Predictions for the early games on December 19th, check back tomorrow for another edition.
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