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 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens. This is the early game slate of NHL Predictions. Be sure and check out the late games of NHL Predictions too.
New Jersey Devils vs. New York Islanders
Head-to-Head: Devils 0 – 0 Islanders
This will be the first of four meetings between the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders. The Devils are getting back to playing team-first hockey, which has allowed them to pick up 11 points in their last eight games. New Jersey has won three of its last four games including a comeback victory over the Boston Bruins. The Devils enter this game with a lot of confidence. With Taylor Hall traded to Arizona, the Devils have become Nico Hischier‘s team. His play recently has propelled him into voting for the upcoming NHL All-Star game. Jack Hughes is gaining more confidence with each passing game. Not to mention the play of Kyle Palmieri, who has been the best player for the Devils this season. The Devils are playing a fast-paced style, but remain focused on playing good defence.
This will not be an easy task for the Islanders. Even with their recent struggles, the Islanders were able to get back-to-back wins on the road over Minnesota and Washington. However, prior to that, the Islanders had lost four of its past five games. Head coach Barry Trotz has got his team playing better defensively. And it regardless of who is in net, whether that be Semyon Varlamov or Thomas Greiss, the Islanders have confidence in either guy to win them games. Mathew Barzal continues to play well for the Islanders, but they definitely need to find more scoring before the playoffs come. It will be interesting to see how these two teams match up on the ice.
Prediction: Devils Win 3-2
The second game on today’s NHL Predictions lineup
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Boston Bruins
Head-to-Head: Blue Jackets 0 – 0 Bruins
This is the first of three meetings between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Boston Bruins. The Blue Jackets enter the game with a ton of injuries. Most recently, the Blue Jackets lost their goaltender Joonas Korpisalo for four-to-six weeks after he had meniscus surgery on his knee. Korpisalo has been solid for the Blue Jackets this season. He is one of the reasons why Columbus was in a position competing for a playoff spot. With Korpisalo out, Elvis Merzlikins will be called upon to guide the Blue Jackets onward. It has been one of those years for the Blue Jackets. Injuries are mounting up left and right, yet they are still competing each and every night.
Just like the Blue Jackets, the Bruins have their fair share of injuries. Already without Torey Krug, the Bruins put Charlie McAvoy on injury reserved. The Bruins were without David Krejci and Connor Clifton in the loss to New Jersey on Tuesday. Even with all those injuries, the Bruins were still able to get a point to increase in the Atlantic Division. The Bruins are putting together a makeshift difference as they continue to march on. Going through some adversity now will help them later on once the playoffs start. The tandem of Jaroslav Halak and Tuukka Rask have been rock solid. Not to mention the top line for the Bruins has been outstanding. However, they need more secondary scoring to be successful.
Prediction: Bruins Win 4-2
The third game on the slate for today’s NHL Predictions
Edmonton Oilers vs. Buffalo Sabres
Head-to-Head: Sabres 1 – 0 Oilers
This is the second and final meeting of the season between the Edmonton Oilers and Buffalo Sabres. In the first meeting, the Sabres got the better of the Oilers squeaking out a 3-2 victory in overtime. It was a close affair that saw the Sabres keep the duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl off the board. The Oilers will be looking for some revenge. Neither team has been playing great as of late. Edmonton needs this game as they fight for some breathing room in a tight Pacific Division. If the Oilers want to have more success this season, they will need to have more than just McDavid and Draisaitl scoring. If James Neal can start scoring that would be ideal.
On the Sabres side of things, they need to start picking up some victories. After four straight losses, the Sabres are looking to end their latest losing streak. Just like the Oilers, the Sabres had a great start, but find themselves on the outside looking in. The way things change so quickly in the NHL, any winning or losing streak could catapult or drop a team in the standings. With so many rumours surrounding the Sabres defence, and now the news that Evan Rodrigues wants out, the Sabres need a win to quiet these distractions. Jack Eichel continues to be amazing but will need help from his teammates if they want to win this game.
Prediction: Oilers Win 3-2 in Overtime
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens
Head-to-Head: Lightning 2 – 0 Canadiens
This our NHL predictions featured late game of the night.
This is the third meeting of the season between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens. The Lightning took the first two meetings down in Tampa. Now the series shifts back to Montreal. However, the momentum will probably not. Over the past several seasons, the Lightning has owned the Canadiens. For some reason, the Lightning like playing against the Canadiens. Tampa Bay needs to keep winning as they are on a four-game winning streak. This has propelled them into third place in the Atlantic Division. The big boys of Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, and Victor Hedman are stepping up. The Lightning is starting to find a rhythm they would like to carry into 2020.
The Canadiens are returning home after a seven-game road trip. The Canadiens had a good start to the trip but lost their last three games. It will be tough for Montreal to rebound as they return home. That first game back after a long road trip is always tough. Max Domi continues to be on fire for the Canadiens. He extended his point streak to seven games. Shea Weber continues to be outstanding for the Canadiens. He is having a bounce-back season. The one thing that remains true with Montreal is that this team relies on Carey Price. If Price is good they win, if he is not on his game, then the Canadiens struggle.
Prediction: Lightning Win 4-2
Another key game on today’s NHL Predictions
San Jose Sharks vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Head-to-Head: Sharks 0 – 0 Penguins
This is the first of two meetings between the San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins. It is a down season for the Sharks as they prepare for a rematch of the 2016 Stanley Cup Final. While Logan Couture is the loan representative for the Sharks at the NHL All-Star Game, the team has been underperforming. It is amazing that the loss of Joe Pavelski is effecting this team so much. He was a leader in the locker room. Not to mention, the team was not being able to replace his scoring abilities. General manager Doug Wilson is usually so good with the salary cap but locked up too many of his defencemen to high money deals.
On the Penguins side of things, it is amazing to see how this team continues to win despite all their injuries. Already without Sidney Crosby, the Penguins will now be without Jake Guentzel for the next four to six months. Even with Crosby coming back, Guentzel was picking up the slack in Crosby’s absence. However, who will pick up the slack in Guentzel’s absence? The Penguins still have Evgeni Malkin. He always picks up his game when a big player on the team goes out. And would it surprise anyone if one of the players the Penguins call up from the AHL steps in and produces?
Prediction: Penguins Win 5-2
The final game on today’s NHL Predictions
Florida Panthers vs. Ottawa Senators
Head-to-Head: Panthers 1 – 0 Senators
This is the second of four meetings between the Florida Panthers and Ottawa Senators. The Panthers took the first meeting at the beginning of December by a final score of 6-1. The Panthers remain in the hunt for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. It has been an up and down season so far for the Panthers. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has yet to find his groove, but he is playing better for the Cats. Jonathan Huberdeau is on fire. While his seven-game point streak came to an end, Huberdeau has 16 points in his last eight games. He is the best-kept secret in the league. His teammate Aleksander Barkov is also having an amazing season as well. On paper, the Panthers have the better team, but the Senators are pesky for a reason.
Recently, the Senators have been putting some wins together. Outside their regulation loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday, the Senators had points in five straight. Some of those points came in overtime losses, but they are competing each and every night. Anthony Duclair has found a home with the Senators. He will represent the Senators at the NHL All-Star Game. In 40 games this season, he has 31 points (21 goals and 10 assists). Right behind him is Jean-Gabriel Pageau with 29 points (18 goals and 11 assists). The Senators have a good young nucleus to build around with the likes of Brady Tkachuk, Thomas Chabot, Duclair, and Pageau. This will be a tough game for them, but they will put up a fight.
Prediction: Panthers Win 5-4
This does it for NHL Predictions for the early games for January 2nd.
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