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 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Florida Panthers. This is the early game slate of NHL Predictions. Be sure and check out the late games of NHL Predictions too.
New York Rangers vs. Montreal Canadiens
Head-to-Head: Rangers 1 – 1 Canadiens
It is the rubber match between the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens. One team is marching towards the playoffs, while the other is heading towards the first pick in the draft. Nobody thought entering this season, the Rangers would make the playoffs. Now they are just four points out of the final wild card in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers made sure their rebuild continues to head in the right direction by keeping Chris Kreider around. This is why Artemi Panarin wanted to play in New York and he continues to make magic with Mika Zibanejad. The Rangers have a good young team that will continue to get better. If the Rangers want to make the playoffs, this is a game they must win.
On the side of the coin, the Canadiens continue to struggle. They are faulting in the standings and were sellers at the trade deadline. While Canadiens play well on home ice against the Rangers, their best asset in Ilya Kovalchuk is now in Washington. Montreal has been in a tailspin after going through two eight-game losing streaks. While Montreal is building towards the future, this is a results-oriented business, and fans of the franchise want to see their team in the playoffs. The Canadiens do have the talent to compete with the Rangers, but New York is coming off a big road victory against the New York Islanders and will be riding that wave into Montreal.
Prediction: New York Wins 4-2
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Head-to-Head: Lightning 1 – 0 Blackhawks
The Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks are meeting for the second and final time this season. The Lightning took the first meeting way back in November. Both teams are in different places in the standings. The Blackhawks are in the middle of a four-game road trip that will conclude in Florida. Chicago has the talent to give the Lightning problems. These two teams met in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, with Chicago winning. But the Blackhawks are a long way from getting back there. However, Chicago is building towards the future, so there will be a lot of talent on display in this one.
The Lightning, on the other hand, need to get back in the win column. After winning 11-straight games, the Lightning have lost their last three games. This a must-win for a team that worked so hard to get back into the playoff picture in the Atlantic Division. Tampa Bay is a well-oiled machine, but there are still some questions facing the Lightning. One of them is the injury surrounding Steven Stamkos. He left the last game on Tuesday night. He is questionable to play, but Tampa Bay has still a number of weapons that can produce. Not to mention one of the best goalies in the world in Andrei Vasilevskiy. Do not be surprised to see the Lightning play one of their better games of the season.
Prediction: Tampa Bay Wins 5-3
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Florida Panthers
Head-to-Head: Panthers 2 – 0 Maple Leafs
This is the NHL Predictions featured early game of the night
The game of the night features a battle of two Atlantic Division teams in the Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers. The Maple Leafs hold a two-point edge over the Panthers for third place in the Atlantic. However, the Panthers have beaten the Maple Leafs twice so far this season. With another huge four-point swing on the line, the Maple Leafs can point to games like these if they do not make the playoffs. However, many have to wonder which Maple Leafs team will show up. Will it be the team that beat the Lightning on Tuesday night or the team that fell short against the Carolina Hurricanes? To say this is a must-win game for the Maple Leafs is an understatement. And with injuries to Morgan Rielly and Jake Muzzin, Toronto will need to focus more on defence than offence.
The Panthers are coming back home after a long five-game west coast road trip that saw the team go 3-2. It is never easy coming back home after a long road trip. The Panthers look a bit different after the trade deadline. No more Vincent Trocheck, but that is not a bad thing. Florida needed to shake things up if they want to get back to the playoffs. What they need most is their $10 million goalie Sergei Bobrovsky to play better. In addition, the Panthers might have one of the more underrated players in the league in Jonathan Huberdeau. He does not get the credit he deserves with Aleksander Barkov on the team. This is such a big game for both teams. If the Leafs win they increase their lead in the standings, but a Panthers win gets them into a playoff spot.
Prediction: Maple Leafs Win 4-3
Dallas Stars vs. Boston Bruins
Head-to-Head: Bruins 1 – 0 Stars
The Boston Bruins and Dallas Stars are meeting for the final time this season. This is a big game for both teams. The Bruins and Stars are battling for the top spot in each of their respective divisions. Their first meeting of the year came in the opening game of the season for both teams. The Bruins came out victorious, but it could be a different story on Thursday night. The Stars are within four points of the top spot in the Central Division. Dallas has won three of their last four games with Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Roope Hintz all stepping up. Speaking of Seguin, his game rises when he plays his former club in the Bruins.
The Bruins are coming off a tough loss at home to Calgary, but that was their first home game after a long road trip. However, they still remain atop the Atlantic Division. Their game is starting round into form as they prepare for another long-run in the playoffs. It may take some time for Ondrej Kase to adjust to the Bruins style of play, once he does he will only make them better. The key for the Bruins is to get secondary scoring and not rely on the top line to do everything. This will be another close affair between two evenly matched teams.
Prediction: Boston Wins 3-2 in Overtime
Vancouver Canucks vs. Ottawa Senators
Head-to-Head: Canucks 1 – 0 Senators
The Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators are meeting the final time this season. Vancouver took the first matchup back in December by a score of 5-2. The Canucks are just two points out of the top spot in the Pacific Division. While the Canucks are ahead of schedule you can’t deny the talent on the roster. Quinn Hughes is the first rookie defenceman to reach 50 points in 27 years. The addition of Tyler Toffoli only makes them better with injuries to Brock Boeser, Brandon Sutter, and Micheal Ferland. While the injury to Jacob Markstrom hurts, having Louis Domingue around to back up Thatcher Demko gives them the veteran presence they need.
It seems like every year, the Senators are rebuilding. None of their top talents want to stay there. There is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to the Senators being a competitive team in the NHL again. Not to mention the Senators are having issues drawing fans to their building. However, you give Ottawa credit, for one thing, they will never show signs of quitting. They are never out of any game and while they are on the wrong side of the legger, the loss is only by one or two goals. The Canucks need a win against the Senators to keep in the Pacific.
Prediction: Vancouver Wins 5-2
That does it for NHL Predictions for the early games for February 27th
Embed from Getty Images