Eastern Conference titans collide when the surging Boston Bruins faceoff against the streaking Pittsburgh Penguins at the Consol Energy Center. Let’s discuss where the value lies in our NHL betting odds preview.
Swinging Johnson - NHL Record (3-1, +5.25 units)
*Games assigned 1 to 5 units.
Our last play was a week ago when we closed our eyes and wished real hard that the Flyers were worth a lousy one unit play against the Rangers at MSG. These two teams play each other very close and we figured why not grab the vig, all things being equal.
Well, they weren’t equal because the boys in blue handed Philly a 4-2 defeat and we lost our first game of the NHL season. Not to worry, it was only a one unit setback but we’re going to hopefully make up for it with our NHL picks tonight.
Shout-out to SBR poster Sweethook!
Boston Bruins (17-3-3)
The B’s notched their third win in a row last night with a gritty victory over the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place. Tuukka Rask sparkled during the shootout, particularly in a scene right out of Slapshot when Senators winger Kaspars Daugavins pinned the puck with the toe of his stick at center ice and glided it along until the very end when he did a whirling dervish move at the mouth of the net but Rask was able to keep his skate flush to the left post and stymied the attempt.
Boston was resilient last night after falling behind 2-0 but roared back with tallies by Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille in regulation while David Krejci scored the goal that sealed the deal during the shootout. The B’s are now 3-1 in shootouts this season and continue to be stingy on defense with the 3rd best goals against and the number one penalty killing unit. However, their power play has sputtered this season, currently ranked 23rd and connecting on only 15.5% of the opportunities.
Pittsburgh Penguins (18-8)
The Pens will have to go to battle again tonight without the services of reigning Hart Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin who was injured in Pittsburgh’s 5-4 overtime victory against the Maple Leafs on Saturday night. But if their performance against the Islanders the following evening is any indication then they’ve got nothing to worry about. Pittsburgh manhandled the Islanders Sunday night in a dominating 6-1 victory with a monster performance by Chris Kunitz who had a hat trick complemented by two assists. Sid the Kid was no slouch either as he tied a career high with five assists.
Pittsburgh has won five in a row but they face a much sterner test with Boston coming to town. If their recent history against the Bruins holds true, they should be in good stead to win their sixth straight. Pittsburgh has won their last three over Boston but they have not faced the Black and Gold this season. Their top line of Kunitz-Crosby-Dupuis is a juggernaut with 24 goals this season when the line is together. Their efforts have contributed mightily to the Penguins number one ranking in goals scored, averaging 3.7 goals per game.
My kneejerk reaction is that the Bruins are at a disadvantage on a few fronts here. They are playing back-to-back games on the road and there is a very good chance that head coach Claude Julien will rest his top tender Tuukka Rask after a hard fought victory last night. The B’s will also have to face Marc-Andre Fleury who, though slumping lately, has a 1.75 GAA and a 6-2 mark over his last eight starts against Boston.
I’m a bit surprised the NHL odds makers are dealing this line as relatively low as it is. I am assuming B’s backup Anton Khudobin will get the nod here while the Penguins main man Marc-Andre Fleury will be in net after getting a break against the Isles. Even if Rask does start, his pads are barely dry after last night’s clash in Ottawa. I’ll lay the lumber with Pittsburgh as I don’t think Boston can go toe-to-toe with a team averaging over 5 goals per game since their winning streak began.
Free NHL Picks: Play Pittsburgh -127 for 3 units at Pinnacle.
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