NHL Picks: Bruins vs. Maple Leafs Game 4
Swinging Johnson - NHL Record (8-6, +9.4 units)
*Games assigned 1 to 5 units.
Handicapping sports is a humbling game. You'd think you'd be right at least sixty-percent of the time if you really did your homework and knew how to navigate your way around the dizzying array of steam plays, false moves and the inevitable late scratches. You exercise your due diligence and if you're really good, forty-percent of the time it all goes for naught. That's why it's nice to not only win but nail the precise reasons why your team put coinage in your pocket.
And so it was in my last NHL picks write-up that I predicted the return of Nathan Horton would play a factor in a Bruins Game 1 victory over the Leafs. Sure enough, my boy Nathan had plenty of jump in his skates after getting over 10 days to rest and heal as he scored what proved to be the game winner in a Bruins 4-1 victory which was a maximum five unit play for the good guys.
Let's take a look at the NHL odds in Wednesday night's Game 4 tilt between Boston and Toronto.
Emotional lift for the wrong team -
Toronto Stronger? Yeah, that little banner must have made the Bruins just want to sit back and relax while they watched the Maple Leafs live up to that billing in front of a frenzied sea of their playoff starved denizens. Not only was it inappropriate, it could have only served to inspire the wrong team, which in this case was of course Boston.
Honestly, I am not a guy who puts a great deal of stock in emotion when it pertains to team sports. I have repeatedly stated that the fans' emotional investment is far greater than the players. This is work for these guys. Some of them, maybe even a majority of them, love what they do but they're working for a paycheck first and the jersey second.
That being said, there is something electric about postseason hockey and if you don't think the Bruins didn't see pictures of that sign via social media, before the game or between periods, think again. The sign, which was a take on the Boston Strong slogan which manifested from the Boston Marathon bombings, was held up in Maple Leafs Square outside the Air Canada Centre prior to the start of Monday's game. Sports is merely entertainment while the atrocity that occurred in Boston is a despicable evil. The twain should never meet.
If the Bruins win tonight in Toronto, you can summon the fat lady because this series is all but over. Boston has several things going for them right now and I suspect they will carry through to Game 4. To start, Milan Lucic was back to playing his physical brand of hockey which is critical to not only his success but his teams'.
In addition, Nathan Horton's revival has been the spark that the Bruins were missing down the stretch of the regular season. It's no surprise then that the line of Lucic, Horton and Krejci has accounted for 17 points in only three playoff games thus far. One must also not overlook the role rugged blueliner Andrew Ference plays on this team after returning from a one-game suspension which just happened to be Boston's lone loss of the series.
I am not overlooking the effort put forth by the Leafs on Monday night. They pummeled Boston goalie Tuukka Rask with 47 shots but could crack the code only twice. However, it was the defensive lapses by the younger, less experienced Leafs that turned the tide in the last game. It was also the 45-30 edge in faceoffs won by Boston that set the tempo throughout.
If we are looking for value in our NHL picks, this game could once again be worth laying more lumber on the road chalk. I predicted, the Bruins would win this series 4-1 and I believe they're on track to do just that.