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 Calgary Flames vs. Toronto Maple Leafs. This is the late game slate of NHL Predictions. Be sure and check out the late games of NHL Predictions too.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Boston Bruins
Head-to-Head: Bruins 1 – 0 Penguins
NHL Predictions kicks off a matchup between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins. They will play twice in a matter of four days to wrap up their season series. The Bruins defeated the Penguins in their first matchup of the season by a score of 6-4. It was not easy for Boston as they were 3-0 before the Penguins took the lead with four straight goals in the second period. The Bruins ended up scoring three goals in the final frame, but that game had a feel of a Penguins victory. Pittsburgh is coming into their second matchup red hot winners of four straight. The Penguins are getting healthy at the right time too. Sidney Crosby returned against Minnesota and just recorded a four-point night. Even without Jake Guentzel, the Penguins have so many weapons. Tristan Jarry is playing phenomenal as Matt Murray is playing below average for his standards.
Prior to their back-to-back losses, the Bruins were winners of three straight games. Boston still has the lead in the Atlantic Division, but it will be tough as Tampa Bay and Toronto are nipping on their heels. Not to mention Tuukka Rask will be out for a while with a concussion. Jaroslav Halak has been great all year in the tandem with Rask, so he will be able to shoulder the load. The Bruins are going through some adversity as of late which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They still have a ton of weapons with Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, and others. However, depth scoring is just not there. And the team better hope this game doesn’t go to a shootout. Boston can’t seem to finish in the extra session.
Prediction: Penguins Win 5-3.
Calgary Flames vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
Head-to-Head: Flames 1 – 0 Maple Leafs
This our NHL predictions featured early game of the night.
This is the second and final matchup between the Calgary Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs on the season. The Flames were able to get the better of the Maple Leafs during Toronto’s Western Canada swing by a score of 4-2. Toronto is out looking for some revenge. The Flames are fighting for their playoff lives in a very tight Western Conference playoff picture. The separation from first to fifth is only three points. The Flames are in the midst of their Eastern Canada swing prior to the All-Star break. Calgary is looking for a win after a loss in Montreal on Tuesday night. With points at a premium, every loss hurts that much more. Calgary will be ready once the puck drops on Thursday night.
Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs are fighting for their playoff lives in an even tighter Eastern Conference Playoff picture. Toronto got back on track after their win over New Jersey on Tuesday night. Auston Matthews leads the team in goals with 34 and 27 of which have come on home ice. However, the Maple Leafs defence will be tested as Jake Muzzin and Morgan Rielly are out with injuries. Rasmus Sandin looked good carrying his momentum over from the World Juniors. While the Maple Leafs can score goals, they will need to stop them and Frederik Andersen has looked average. He will need to be better if Toronto has hopes of making the playoffs.
Prediction: Maple Leafs 4-2.
Los Angeles Kings vs. Florida Panthers
Head-to-Head: Kings 0 – 0 Panthers
This is the first of two meetings between the Los Angeles Kings and Florida Panthers. The Kings are in the midst of a five-game road trip. After winning in Vegas, the Kings have lost back-to-back games. Though give credit to the Kings for pushing the Tampa Bay Lightning to a shootout. The Kings are a rebuilding team that every now and then will get a win. They have even put winning streaks together at points during the season. It will be interesting which players will be left after the trade deadline with guys like Alec Martinez, Tyler Toffoli, and others on the market.
On the other side of the coin, the Panthers are fighting to keep pace in the Atlantic Divison. The Panthers are three points out of third in the Atlantic and one point out of the final wild-card spot. With wins in three of their past four games, the Panthers are looking to continue their winning ways. Florida took a risk signing Sergei Bobrovsky in the off-season and while it has not paid off just yet, they did address a need. Bobrovsky is a top-level goaltender in the league. The Panthers could not keep relying on Roberto Luongo and James Reimer anymore. Joel Quenneville has got the team playing well but if they miss the playoffs it will be another disappointing year.
Prediction: Panthers Win 4-3.
New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders
Head-to-Head: Rangers 1 – 0 Islanders
The New York Rangers and New York Islanders will play three times in a matter of a week. The second meeting comes on Thursday night. The Rangers took the first matchup at Madison Square Garden by a score of 6-2. That game had an interesting feel to it. It harkened back to the days of old-time hockey. There were two fights within the first few minutes of the hockey game. From there the Rangers took over led by Artemi Panarin and Anthony DeAngelo. Panarin has been unreal since coming to the Rangers scoring 26 goals and 41 assists for 67 points. He has been the team’s MVP. DeAngelo is coming to his own this season. For those fans of the Broadway Blueshirts, the future is very bright.
Flipping over to the Islanders, they need wins desperately with the Penguins and Capitals ahead of them in the standings. Not to mention the moshpit of teams fighting for the wild card spots. This is a huge four-point swing in the standings. The Islanders need to keep pace with their divisional rivals. While the team has the goaltending and defence to be in any game, offensively they are challenged. Granted they did beat up Detroit, but this game against their in-state rivals will be different. They will need Mathew Barzal, Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle, and others to pull their weight in this one. With the Islanders being good on home ice, the series will be tied heading into next week’s matchup.
Prediction: Islanders Win 5-3.
Montreal Canadiens vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Head-to-Head: Flyers 2 – 0 Canadiens
This is the third and final meeting between the Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers took the first two meetings of the season in overtime. One team is in a wild-card position, while the other team is trending in the wrong direction. This will be the second game in two nights for the Canadiens. Montreal has not been playing well since their hot start to the season. Injuries to key players and inconsistent goaltending have sent the Canadiens plummeting down the standings. Marc Bergevin brought in Ilya Kovalchuk for an offensive boost. So far so good. The real problem is Carey Price. The Canadiens go as Price go. And when he is off, the team does not succeed. They need Price need to be that $10.5 million dollar man.
The Flyers are tied with the Blue Jackets in points for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. They hold the final spot because of more wins in regulation. The Flyers will have a tough road ahead with Carter Hart out several weeks with an abdominal injury. That means Brian Elliott will have to shoulder the load going forward. The Flyers are hanging around and Alain Vigneault needs credit for that. It also doesn’t hurt having Travis Konecny, Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Jakub Voracek producing the way they have been to propel the Flyers to this position.
Prediction: Flyers Win 3-2 in Overtime.
New Jersey Devils vs. Washington Capitals
Head-to-Head: Devils 1 – 1 Capitals
The New Jersey Devils and Washington Capitals are locking up for the second time in less than a week. New Jersey and Washington split their first two meetings of the year. What was surprising was how well the Devils handled the Capitals in their last meeting winning by a score of 5-1. After winning two straight games, the Devils came back to Earth against Toronto. However, they still have a winning record until new head coach Alain Nasreddine. Nico Hischier was rewarded for his play being named a replacement to the 2020 NHL All-Star Game as Kyle Palmieri remains out with an injury. Blake Coleman is leading the Devils in scoring with 18 goals. The problem is can they stop anybody. With MacKenzie Blackwood still out, it will be up to Louis Domingue, who beat the Capitals last time, and Cory Schneider. Odds are not in their favour.
Washington is going through adversity right now. That is not a bad thing as mentioned with the Bruins. The Capitals were on cruise control early on. Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson could not be stopped. Both guys have come back to the pact. However, there is still a ton of offence on this team. Nicklas Backstrom is sticking around for five more years. He always ups his game this time of year. Not to mention Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie. The Capitals have the talent to beat the Devils, but it all comes down which Capitals team decides to show up.
Prediction: Capitals Win 4-1.
Carolina Hurricanes vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Head-to-Head: Blue Jackets 2 – 0 Hurricanes
This is a big game between the Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blues Jackets. Four points are on the line. The winner of this game will have a huge leg up on the other when it comes to positioning for the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. Having lost their previous to meeting to the Blue Jackets, the Hurricanes are looking to increase their lead as they hold one of the two final wild card positions. The Hurricanes are not playing particularly well as of late with a 3-3-1 record over their last seven games. Talk about a must-win game. Carolina is hoping with the addition of Justin Williams, they can back to playing the style of game that got them to the playoffs last season.
Columbus is the little engine that could this season. Nobody thought they would be in a position competing for a playoff spot. (except this writer). Even with the losses they had in the off-season and all the injuries they have faced this season, the Blue Jackets are right there. Credit needs to go to John Tortorella and the way he has handled everything. If the Blue Jackets do make the playoffs or even just miss his name needs to be mentioned for the Jack Adams Award. Elvis Merzlikins has filled in nicely for the injured Joonas Korpisalo. The Blue Jackets are getting healthier to announcing Cam Atkinson has been activated off injured reserve. That will be a boost to their offence.
Prediction: Blue Jackets Win 3-2.
This does it for NHL Predictions for the early games for Thursday, January 16th.