Bruins Fantastic Defense Will Leave Lightning Stuggling To Keep Up

Dana Lane

Sunday, February 28, 2016 3:47 PM UTC

Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016 3:47 PM UTC

The Boston Bruins and the Tampa Bay Lightning face each other to decide who will take sole possesion of second place in the Atlantic Division. See my top NHL pick. 

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Boston Bruins
The Boston Bruins seem to be in postseason form both offensively and defensively, in their last two games, outscoring the Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins by a combined 9-2 score. Boston has knocked in 20 goals in their last four games winning three of four. 

What has made Boston so dangerous is their scoring is coming from third line players like Matt Belesky who has five of his 13 goals this season in the last four games. Belesky is playing playoff hockey. Gritty, winning battles in the corners, physical play. His play has rubbed off on fellow linemate Ryan Spooner who has 2 points in his last 2 games  Brett Connolly has been a solid third liner who has 23 points in 59 games, drafted by Tampa 6th overall in the 2010 draft. Boston's ability to have three lines who can put the puck in the back of the net makes them extremely dangerous. 

The Bruins 4-1 victory over Carolina was noteworthy in the NHL odds boards because it was on the road against a team in desperation mode. 

Boston's advantage in this one comes from their superiority in front of Tuukka Rask. All three defensive pairings are playing well. The return of Adam McQuaid has been big for Boston.  He brings a big body, 6-5/209, who plays with aggression. Playing along with Zdeno Chara (6-9/255) who has been told he was done all year but has quietly but together a solid season (8/24/+12). They are the biggest defensive pairing in the league. 

Behind them is the combination of Torey Krug and Dennis Seidenberg who are playing the best of all the pairs. Combined they have seven points in eight games which means that Tuukka Rask is playing exceptionally well. You can always tell how confident a team is in their goaltender by how many points the defensemen have.  If you can't rely on your net minder teams will not bring their D-men up in the play as much for fear they could get caught by a streaking forward. 

As good as Boston is defensively, Tampa has some issues.
Top duo Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman have not played strong as of late. Hedman is certainly a big presence but doesn't play as physical as the Lightning would like. Stralman has only 2 points in his last ten games, struggles to defend bigger forwards.  I can't to be too comfortable with backing the Lightning against the Bruin forwards who are on fire.

The Bruins are in solid on the injury front and are always physically ready to play games in a short turnaround.  In their last 12 games playing on one days rest Boston is a stellar 10-2. Bad news for Tampa who have never played the Bruins well. In their last 74 meetings the Bruins have beaten the Lightning 53 times with 5 coming in overtime. I choose the Bruins as my NHL pick to continue their refinement into playoff form. Be sure to check out our other top value games for Sunday Night. @DanaLaneSports

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NHL Pick: Boston Bruins -108
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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