Welcome to NHL Predictions! Each day, Last Word On Hockey will break down every game and give our NHL predictions for each game. In today’s NHL predictions, we’ll cover the five early games happening on February 11th. Each piece will include a featured game that should be must-watch hockey. The featured game for this article is between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Detroit Red Wings vs Buffalo Sabres
Head-to-Head: Red Wings 1 – 2 Sabres
The Detroit Red Wings shocked the NHL world (and perhaps themselves) by defeating the powerful Boston Bruins Sunday night 3-1. Say all you’d like about the Red Wings, but they have beaten some quality teams this season. They’ve lost twice to the Sabres this season, so who know where this one will go. One thing is certain, the Red Wings would love to win two straight games as they’ve only done it a few times this season. Whatever they did against Boston may not be easily duplicated. They’ve only won two of their last 12 games.
The Buffalo Sabres have gone 4-5-1 in their last 10 games and really need to get on the winning side of things soon to make the playoffs. As it stands now they are 11 points out of a wild card spot and things are not looking too promising. Their one bright spot has to be the play of Jack Eichel. He’s collected 31 goals, 38 assists in 55 games. It would be a shame if his team can’t be seen in the postseason. To demonstrate his dominance, Sam Reinhart trails Eichel by 24 points in team scoring. This game should be the Sabres to lose, so we’ll see how it turns out.
Prediction: Sabres win 4-2
Arizona Coyotes vs Toronto Maple Leafs
Head-to-Head: Coyotes 0 – 1 Maple Leafs
The Arizona Coyotes need to win this game to get them back into playoff contention. This will be a back-to-back affair as the team will play the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night. The Coyotes lost the only game against the Leafs back in November when Arizona native Auston Matthews and teammates won their first game under the guidance of new head coach Sheldon Keefe. It appears that the Coyotes are experiencing the same injury woes as last season. They will be without the services of Darcy Kuemper who suffered a setback prior to the game against Montreal. They are hoping defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson will be back and that will certainly help. The Yotes have a good record playing in Toronto and have taken eight of nine games dating back to 2006. They really need this one.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are playing some good hockey under Sheldon Keefe going 20-9-4 with him behind the bench. The Leafs are an offensive threat having scored the most goals in the NHL. Unfortunately, they rank 28th in defence. So, you basically must outscore them if you want a chance to beat them. Stopping Arizona native Auston Matthews will not be an easy task. He has 40 tallies this season and will be looking for more. Keying in on him may be the only method of stopping him.
Prediction: Coyotes win 3-2 in overtime
Florida Panthers vs New Jersey Devils
Head-to-Head: Panthers 1 – 0 Devils
The Florida Panthers have gone 6-3-1 in their last 10 games and are fighting for a playoff berth. They trail both the Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers by three points before their game Monday night against the Flyers. This will be a back-to-back situation and depending on the outcome of the Monday night game, this game could be vital for them. The Panthers have a potent offence ranking then fifth in the league, but their defence needs to improve. They are only 24th in keeping the puck out of their net. If they drop the game against the Flyers, this game is a must-win.
The New Jersey Devils are riding off of two straight shutouts by their goalie MacKenzie Blackwood. The Devils may be improving game by game but it’s probably too late for them to do as well as they had expected. While this game has much more significance for their opponent, the Devils want to show their fans that they are at least attempting to finish this dismal season well. If Blackwood stays hot they may just break the Panthers hopes in this one.
Prediction: Panthers win 4-1
Philadelphia Flyers vs New York Islanders
Head-to-Head: Flyers 0 – 2 Islanders
The Philadelphia Flyers are still hanging around in attempts to gather a coveted playoff spot. They trail the Islanders by a single point before the game Monday night against the Panthers. So, this game can be very decisive on where teams place in the standings as the playoffs near. With the Flyers facing two other teams vying for the same playoff berths, it could get very physical and interesting to watch this game unfold. The Flyers won’t be pushed around and the Islanders are an accomplished, well-coached team.
The New York Islanders are also in the thick of a playoff spot and will be hoping to take this game to solidify their path to the postseason. Having a couple of games in hand is nice but they must face the Washington Capitals on Monday night causing a back-to-back schedule. The standings could drastically change after games on Monday and Tuesday. Back-to-back games cause all kinds of challenges for teams including travel, rest and momentum. The Islanders need some momentum to stay ahead of the pack.
Prediction: Islanders win 2-1
Tampa Bay Lightning vs Pittsburgh Penguins
Head-to-Head: Lightning 2 – 0 Penguins
* This is the NHL predictions early featured game
The Tampa Bay Lightning are a very hot hockey team. Since the beginning of the calendar year, the Lightning have gone 14-2-1. They are pretty much impossible to stop. They currently have a six-game winning streak and are on a roll. A good reason why is their talented scoring forward Nikita Kucherov who has collected 25 goals, 42 assists in 54 games. He is partnered up with Steven Stamkos who has 26 goals, 33 assists in 52 games. How do you beat the Lightning? By stopping one or both of these guys. Easier said than done.
The Pittsburgh Penguins will be looking for their first victory over the Tampa Bay club. Both teams are evenly matched so this game is a must-see game. They are led by Sidney Crosby who has 14 points in the nine games he’s been back from his two-month injury. The Penguins are 7-3 in their last 10 games so these two teams are both winning games left and right. The Pens are only four points behind the Capitals with a game in hand, so things are getting tight.
Prediction: Lightning win 4-3