Friday 7 PM ET
Free NHL Pick: Bruins ML; Under
Best Line Offered: BetOnline
Dating back back to last season, the Boston Bruins are now 3-0-0-1 in their last 4 games against the Pittsburgh Penguins, with the last win coming in a 2-1 overtime win in Boston this past November 23. For whatever reason, the superstar clad roster of the Pens, has been the elixir for whatever ails the B’s as they seem to always find a way to shut down Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel. That’s bad news for the struggling Penguins, who dropped an embarrassing 6-3 loss to the lowly Blackhawks at Chicago Wednesday and need an elixir of their own to climb out of the mediocrity they find themselves mired in, and back into a playoff spot.
After losing 3 straight games and sending the Boston media and fans into panic mode, the Bruins have calmed the masses with 3 straight wins and are also lighting the lamp with more frequency. Boston has scored 12 goals during this current win streak and allowed 7. Head coach Bruce Cassidy has finally found a way to get his top line going again in the absence of Patrice Bergeron and that’s been by slotting veteran center David Krejci in between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. The trio clicked instantly and Krejci is playing his best hockey of the season with 2 goals and 5 assists in his last 4 games. His playmaking skills have helped Marchand find the twine again too as the pesky sniper now has 3 goals in his last 2 games. That rejuvenated offense, the return of Charlie McAvoy to the blue line and the continued brilliance between the pipes by Tuukka Rask and Jaro Halak, have the Bruins riding high into Pittsburgh and primed for another win against the Penguins.
Meanwhile in Pittsburgh, the Pens – who came into this season as +1100 to win the Stanley Cup and are now +2500 over at BetOnline – can’t seem to find any traction. Yes they’re 5-3-2 in their last 10 games but every time they seem to get some consistency flowing, they lay a dud like the 6-3 loss at Chicago Wednesday. General manager Jim Rutherford already tried to light a spark when he traded away dressing room favorite Carl Hagelin for Tanner Pearson, but it didn’t work, and some now wonder if a bigger deal is on the horizon? There was some good news this past week in Pittsburgh though and that was the return of goalie Matt Murray who hasn’t played since November 17. While goaltending wasn’t the main issue in his absence, his veteran presence will certainly help matters.
With Pittsburgh allowing 6 goals in its last game, there’s a good chance they will clamp down and that combined with the Bruins solid goaltending and ability to shut down the Pens’ superstars, has the recipe for a low-scoring affair. Hence, my pick of Bruins money line and the under for this one.
The Bruins are 17-14 against the spread and 6-11 on the road. Boston has scored 85 goals and allowed 79. They’re 10-20-1 on the over/under and 4-13-0 on the road. The B’s are 15-16 on the puck line and 7-10 on the road. Pastrnak leads the team in goals with 21 lamplighters and in points with 38. Marchand is tied for the team lead in assists with Krejci as each have 22 helpers.
The Penguins are 13-17 against the spread and 7-8 at home. Pittsburgh has scored 101 goals and allowed 98. They’re 13-13-4 on the over/under and 6-6-3 at home. The Pens are 11-19 on the puck line and 6-9 at home. Kessel and Malkin are tied for the team lead in points with 33. Malkin leads the team in assists with 23 helpers and Crosby leads the team in goals with 15 lamplighters.
- For the Bruins, Rask is 8-6-0-2 with a 2.53 GAA and .916 save percentage.
- Halak is 9-4-0-2 with a 2.30 GAA and .930 save percentage.
- For the Penguins, Casey DeSmith is 9-5-0-4 with a 2.43 GAA and .921 save percentage.
- Murray is 4-5-0-1 with s 4.08 GAA and .877 save percentage.
For the Bruins, Patrice Bergeron (clavicle) and Zdeno Chara (knee) who are out until late this month have been skating on their own this week. Jake DeBrusk (undisclosed) is day-to-day, defensemen Kevan Miller (throat) is out until January and Urho Vaakanainen is day-to-day with a concussion.
For the Penguins, Patric Hornqvist is out again with an upper body injury and hasn’t played since December 6. He’s day-to-day. Dominik Simon (lower-body) and Justin Schultz (leg) are on injured reserve.
Prediction: Bruins 3 Penguins 2 (OT)