The Eastern Conference championship is on the line when the Penguins host the Bruins. Let's analyze this Game 1 matchup to find the best value in the NHL odds.
Swinging Johnson - NHL Record (13-8-1, +17.15 units)
*Games assigned 1 to 5 units.
I just love it when a plan comes together. In my NHL pick that was Under 5 in the epic Game 7 clash between the Blackhawks and the Red Wings, I wrote that the side was simply too close to call but the total looked positively delicious. And so it was that the Blackhawks prevailed in overtime to sew up the series with a 2-1 victory and thus added four big units to our burgeoning bank account.
We had hit a rough patch with our sports picks when the Blackhawks dropped a 2-0 road decision to the Red Wings and followed that belly flop up with another money burner on Under 5 in the Bruins/Rangers Game 4 tilt where the teams combined for seven goals.
However, our last trip in the saddle proved to be fruitful as we backed the Penguins in what was the fifth and deciding game of their series with Ottawa. We cut down on our unit size due to the heavy juice but picked up three units nonetheless. Let's take a look at the NHL odds in the opening game between Boston and Pittsburgh and cash another winning ticket.
In my NHL series preview between these two teams I outlined the pleasant conundrum facing head coach Claude Julien regarding his defensive corps. He had three veteran defensemen sidelined with injuries when the team sent out an SOS to their Providence affiliate to bolster their sagging numbers on the blue line. Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski answered the bell and not only delivered solid defensive play but eye-popping offensive production, particularly from Krug who has four goals in only five postseason games played.
Julien must sit somebody and it looks like veteran Wade Redden and 19-year-old Dougie Hamilton may be the casualties. But that's a problem Julien no doubt welcomes. It should also be noted that Krug's slick passing and deft puck handling skills has sparked a power play that was dormant throughout much of the regular season. Krug has tallied three times on the power play unit in the series against the Rangers and he will be counted upon again against the Penguins.
On another positive note, the offense has picked up from an average of 2.65 goals per game in the regular season to a sizzling 3.17 in the playoffs. David Krejci leads the B's with five goals and 17 points while Nathan Horton has come alive with five goals of his own and a total of 12 points. Even Milan Lucic has finally found his game after a confounding regular season campaign where he seemed to be dazed and confused most of the time.
This year's edition of the Pittsburgh Penguins led the league in goals scored and have even improved upon that 3.38 goals scored average to 4.27 in the postseason. The Penguins are flying and though the Islanders took advantage of several soft performances by Fleury in round one, Pittsburgh now seems to be unstoppable with Tomas Voukon between the pipes. They systematically dismantled the upstart Ottawa Senators and are loaded for bear - of the Bruin kind.
If the Penguins are at any disadvantage in this game (and the series) against the Bruins it would be in crashing the boards or dropping the gloves. Boston is equipped to punish any team they play and Pittsburgh has to be careful about not taking the bait and giving the Bruins power play opportunities. However, they cannot turtle every time Shawn Thornton, Gregory Campbell or Brad Marchand take a swipe at one of their superstars. Pittsburgh thug Matt Cooke may have to work overtime in this one.
The bottom line is how will the Bruins turn the tables on a Pittsburgh team that defeated them in all three games this season? Granted the Pittsburgh victories were all by one goal but here's something to ponder. In two of the three games played, Tomas Voukon was in net and was awarded the number one star both of those starts. In the other game, Marc-Andre Fleury managed 16 saves on just 18 shots. While the Pens still got the 3-2 victory, Fleury was certainly not the brick wall that Voukon proved to be against Boston. Voukon is now the man manning the crease and soft goals have been a thing of the past since he got tapped to start.
This won't be a cakewalk for Pittsburgh but they are at home and will have a rabid crowd cheering every hit and shot the Penguins take. I have predicted a Pittsburgh series victory in my NHL picks and that outcome seems unlikely if they drop Game 1. As I review the NHL odds I believe there is value in Pittsburgh.NHL Picks: Play the Penguins for 3 units at Bet365.com