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 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Tampa Bay Lightning. This is the early game slate of NHL Predictions. Be sure and check out the late games of NHL Predictions too.
Detroit Red Wings vs. Buffalo Sabres
Head-to-Head: Sabres 2 – 0 Red Wings
The Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings wrap up their season series over the next week. The two teams will play either each twice in five days. No offence to either of these teams playing in this game on Thursday night, but there is not a lot of excitement heading into this game. The Sabres won the previous two meetings over the Red Wings outscoring them 7-1. Both teams are struggling, but the Red Wings are one of the worst teams in the NHL. While there are no guarantees when it comes to victories in the NHL, the Sabres can probably bank two points in this game. If the Sabres want to go anywhere they need more production from others not named Jack Eichel.
Prediction: Sabres win 5-1.
Anaheim Ducks vs. Montreal Canadiens
Head-to-Head: Ducks 0 – 0 Canadiens
Here is another game between two teams struggling in the standings. Who would have thought after a decade of dominance, the Anaheim Ducks would be at the bottom of the Western Conference standings? The Ducks are in a rebuilding year as they are getting younger. Players like Troy Terry, Sam Steel, and Max Jones are getting a taste of what life is like in the NHL. Anaheim has a good nucleus with players like Adam Henrique, Ondrej Kase, Jakob Silfverberg, and Rickard Rakell. It will be interesting if the Ducks move any of these assets to get younger.
The Montreal Canadiens, on the other hand, still have their eyes on the playoffs. Montreal got a crucial two points in a nice comeback win against New Jersey on Tuesday night. Ilya Kovalchuk is continuing to prove his worth to the team. It will be interesting to see how the Canadiens proceed with him if the team is in the playoff race come the trade deadline. Having Brendan Gallagher back in the lineup has given a spark to the Canadiens lineup. He brings the necessary energy night in and night out. This is a game Montreal must win if they want to make the playoffs.
Prediction: Canadiens win 4-2.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Head-to-Head: Lightning 1-0 Penguins
This is the NHL Predictions featured early game of the night.
This is the second of three meetings between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning took the first game back in October, but both teams are different at this point in the season. This has the potential of being a playoff series come the spring. These two teams will meet twice in seven days and wrap up their season series. The Penguins despite all their injuries this season find themselves in second place in the Metropolitan Division. The goaltending duo of Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry has been outstanding. Getting Sidney Crosby back into the lineup has given Pittsburgh new life. The Penguins’ depth continues to be on display as Jake Guentzel remains out of the lineup. It will be interesting to see if general manager Jim Rutherford makes a tweak or two at the deadline to put his club over the top.
Going through a little adversity never hurt anybody. In the case of the Lightning, it has only made them a stronger hockey club. This will only help them once the Stanley Cup Playoffs start. Tampa Bay is rounding into form after a slow start to the season. Over their last 13 games, the Lightning has a record of 10-3. This has propelled them into second place in the Atlantic Division. Production from all their top players has increased and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy is back to his Vezina Trophy-winning form. This is a battle between two offensively gifted teams that have stellar goalies to keep this a low scoring affair.
Prediction: Lightning win 4-3.
Vegas Golden Knights vs. Florida Panthers
Head-to-Head: Golden Knights 0 – 0 Panthers
The Vegas Golden Knights wrap up their eight-game road trip Thursday night. Even with the coaching change, the Golden Knights are still trying to find their game. They will need to find it fast in the hotly contested Western Conference and, more specifically, Pacific Division. One night, the Golden Knights could be in the top three of the division and the next, they could be holding on to the final wild-card spot. The Golden Knights are not the same they used to be, but still very good. They traded in speed for talent. What made the Golden Knights so good was their ability to attack quickly. They have lost that, not to mention, the Golden Knights are not surprising teams anymore. Vegas needs a win here to go .500 on the road trip.
The surprising Florida Panthers have cracked the top three in the Atlantic Division. Florida will look to remain in that position. The Panthers were aided by a six-game winning streak before their bye week. Since the break, they have lost two of three games. This will be a difficult game, but if Sergei Bobrovsky, the 10 million dollar man, can continue to play as he did against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Panthers will have a shot at the playoffs. The Panthers’ offence has been affected by the absence of Aleksander Barkov. If he can return to the lineup soon, that will help give some relief to Jonathan Huberdeau. Florida has the talent to compete with Vegas, but the Golden Knights will be too much for them to handle.
Prediction: Golden Knights win 5-4.
Los Angeles Kings vs. New York Islanders
Head-to-Head: Kings 1 – 0 Islanders
This is another game featuring two teams going in different directions. The Los Angeles Kings sit at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, while the New York Islanders are in one of the two wild-card positions in the Eastern Conference. The Kings gave the Islanders some trouble in their first matchup back in November. This is a matchup that favours the Islanders, but the Kings are a tricky team that can find a victory now and then. And with the way the Islanders have been playing lately, they should not take this team lightly. While the Kings are in selling mode, the Islanders are looking to buy to bolster their offence come playoff time. The Islanders are good defensively, but they can’t rely on their goaltending all the time. However, in this contest, the Islanders have enough firepower to beat the Kings.
Prediction: Islanders win 4-1.
New Jersey Devils vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Head-to-Head: Flyers 2 – 0 Devils
The New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers are meeting for the third time this season. The Flyers took the first two games of the season series. The battle between these two Metropolitan Division rivals is always a heated affair. New Jersey enters this contest near the bottom of the league standings after blowing another lead in a losing effort to the Canadiens. The Devils remain without Nico Hischier and Sami Vatanen, who are dealing with lower-body injuries. New Jersey is an interesting case as they have some pieces that could move at the deadline in Kyle Palmieri, Miles Wood, Wayne Simmonds, and Vatanen. While Jack Hughes was promoted to the top line, he looks like a player that still needs time to develop. If Hischier and Vatanen can’t go this will hurt an already weak Devils lineup.
The Flyers are desperately holding onto the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. Winners of four of their last five games, the Flyers are looking to maintain their position in the standings. With other teams in their division winnings, the Flyers know a win against the Devils is a must. With Carter Hart still out of the lineup, Brian Elliott has taken over the number one role. Elliott has performed well and wants to continue his stellar play. Kevin Hayes is living up to his contract finally for the Flyers. He has registered two shorthanded goals in back-to-back games. Not to mention the play of Sean Couturier, Travis Konecny, Jakub Voracek, and Claude Giroux has been outstanding. This is a tough division game, but the Flyers will take this one.
Prediction: Flyers win 4-2.
That does it for NHL Predictions for the early games for February 6th.