Free NHL Picks: Bruins Will Take The Wind Out Of Hurricanes

Doug Upstone

Friday, February 26, 2016 2:00 PM GMT

Friday, Feb. 26, 2016 2:00 PM GMT

We know who the elite teams are in hockey, but who will fill out the rest of the Stanley Cup field? For NHL picks, this Eastern Conference clash will provide one piece towards solving this puzzle.

Both Boston and Carolina have generally played better this month and the Bruins are still poised to make a move to win the Atlantic Division. The Hurricanes still have work to do, listed 10th in the East, but are one four-game winning streak from being heavily immersed in the postseason conversation.

Who's the right choice for NHL picks, time to break it down.

Must Read: Upcoming Trade Deadline Analysis

Boston Rugged on the Road but Still Needs Help
Having given up nine and six goals twice this month alone, Boston (33-28 ATS) knows it needs to shore up the defense to have a chance to be a playoff factor. Being the third-best scoring team in the league, there is plenty of talk as the trade deadline approaches the Bruins should trade one of assets like Loui Eriksson for a skilled back-liner who thinks defense-first to help the 20th ranked defense permitting 2.77 goals a game. Granted, Tuukka Rask has not been a beacon of consistency in net, but with more defensive help, that would only make him better.

For all what seems to be wrong with Boston, when on the road dawning the white sweaters, this team looks like conference finalist. The Bruins are 20-10 SU on the road and their 66.6 percent win percentage away from home is second only to Washington (21-8 SU). Check out these numbers on the B's. They are the top scoring road team in the league at 3.27 goals a game and they have the best defense at 2.23 GAG permitted. When you add in they are the top penalty killing team in the NHL, it is understandable why this team can win at Carolina and seemingly anywhere else except on home ice for some reason.

 

Carolina Has Big Decision To Make Without it Being Distraction
Carolina's captain is Eric Staal, who at 31 is not the same player he was a few years ago. Staal is due to become an unrestricted free agent after the season and since the Hurricanes (28-34 SU) are an organization with limited resources, they just don't go out and pick up the best free agent on the market and plug that person in.

When Carolina won the Cup a decade ago, they had a bunch of young talented players like Staal, with the right amount of veteran leadership and hot goaltender. Some of those same attributes are being reformulated, which is why Staal doesn't necessarily want to be traded to team basically already in the postseason as he sees where they are heading like he was 10 years ago. He is also playing with his younger brother Jordan, who is Carolina's best player and leading scorer.

With last night loss at Toronto, the Hurricanes are 4-3 in the last seven and do not want to create a distraction off-ice which could hurt them on ice. Given their position and not having overwhelming talent, two or three non-focused contests like yesterday could seal fate of team with not much margin for error. At 16-16 at home, Carolina needs A-game to knock off Boston.

 

What to Expect and Winner
The opening NHL odds had Boston as slight underdogs and this is the first of three contests between these teams still on the schedule. The Bruins have won five of the past six and its defense has really bottled up Carolina, holding them to just seven goals. The B's have won nine of 11 with one day's rest.

Don't worry about the Hurricanes not being fresh as this young team is 9-5 SU in the second of back to back contests. If Carolina can break down Boston defense, they can win. If the Bruins break on top and use same formula which has allowed them to be so good outside Massachusetts, they continue remarkable road record. Look for Hurricanes to be in the game, but come up a goal short.

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NHL Pick: Bruins -102
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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