NHL Picks: Bruins Desperate To Remain Atop Their Division When Hosting Islanders

Swinging Johnson

Saturday, March 12, 2016 2:11 PM UTC

Saturday, Mar. 12, 2016 2:11 PM UTC

The Bruins sit atop the Atlantic Division while the Islanders are firmly in the playoff mix but saw their 4 game winning streak snapped in their last outing. Let's review the NHL odds and pick a winner.

New York Islanders (37-28, +0.5 units)
The Islanders are making a late season charge up the Eastern Conference standings winning seven of their last eight before falling 4-3 to the Maple Leafs in a shootout in their last outing. It was a game they were supposed to win if you go by the NHL odds makers who installed the Isles as -170 road favorites but it was not to be. Nevertheless, the Isles picked up a crucial point and with 17 games remaining have plenty of opportunity to make up ground.

New York is currently third in the Metropolitan Division, only two points behind the second place Rangers but with two games in hand. While neither team will catch the division leading Capitals, with the new playoff format this season where second and third place teams within each division play each other in the opening round, the Isles will be gunning for home ice advantage against their intrastate rivals.


Boston Bruins (38-31, -0.7 units)
The Bruins had won six of their last eight heading into a rematch with the lowly Carolina Hurricanes, a team they had defeated 4-1 just two weeks prior in Carolina. Therefore it wasn't a stretch to look at this matchup and include the Bruins in your NHL picks on Thursday night despite laying the sizeable lumber which pegged the B's as -205 home chalk. But what may have been a warning sign was the fact that Boston had played three consecutive overtime games and lo and behold, this one turned out to be their fourth straight as they bowed in the extra frame 3-2 to the visiting Hurricanes.

Defense has traditionally been the fulcrum of the Bruins but not so much this season as the team ranks 19th in goals allowed. Perennial All-Star Zdeno Chara is no longer the elite blueliner that he has been over the past 15 seasons and goaltender Tuukka Rask has been good but not great this year. Yet the offense has been potent ranking 3rd in the league in goals scored led by Brad Marchand who is enjoying a breakout year with 34 tallies on the season. Boston's power play is connecting on 21.2 percent (8th) of their opportunities while their penalty killing unit is extinguishing 82.2 percent (10th) of the opposition's man-advantaged situations.


Betting Analysis
After this afternoon the Bruins will enjoy a respite until Tuesday night and then play six of their next seven games on the road while the Islanders will welcome the Panthers to New York on Monday and then embark on a three game road trip of their own. Both teams understand just how critical this game is as the Bruins are desperately trying to remain atop their division and receive home ice advantage against a wild card team. Similarly, the Isles are attempting to overtake the Rangers for the second seed in the Metropolitan Division to secure home ice in what is looking more and more like a first round Battle of Gotham.

Boston has not fared well at home this season going 15-21 and burning -15.4 units in the process while the Islanders sport a 17-16 road record (-1.3 units). Yet the B's have owned the Isles recently. Boston has won the last four contests between these clubs including 5-3 and 2-1 victories this season with both games played in New York. Yet, Boston has fared well in Saturday games this season with an 11-5 record (+5.5 units) while the Isles are 4-8 (-5.3 units) this season and 20-39 over the past three seasons in Saturday affairs.

I give the slight edge in goaltending to the Islanders who will trot out either Thomas Greiss or Jaroslav Halak but everything else, including venue, favors Boston.

NHL Pick: Boston -121 at Pinnacle

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