The Devils are in the thick of a logjam for the 7th or 8th playoff spot, while the Bruins are looking forward to acclimate with their new arrival, five-time Art Ross Trophy winner Jaromir Jagr.
New Jersey Devils vs. Boston Bruins
Swinging Johnson - NHL Record (6-4, +8.00 units)
*Games assigned 1 to 5 units.
The last time I wrote an NHL matchup was a week ago when I nailed the LA Kings as +115 underdogs on the NHL odds boards to the St. Louis Blues. I say nailed because it was a 4 unit play and I was surprised the oddsmakers were allowing me to get paid the vig for a team that I felt was clearly the better of the two. The only reason it wasn't a 5 unit maximum play is because the Kings had struggled on the road this season but it was not enough to deter me from laying it in. We're up 8 units on the season and looking to move into double digits tonight.
New Jersey Devils (15-12-9) vs. Boston Bruins (23-8-4)
The B's got a pretty nifty consolation prize when they lost out on the Jarome Iginla Sweepstakes. The newest Bruin is a future Hall-of-Famer in the form of 41-year-old Jaromir Jagr who will bring his effortless skating skills and on-ice wizardry to Boston starting tonight against the Devils. Unfortunately, the straw that really stirs the drink in Boston, Patrice Bergeron will be sitting due to yet another concussion suffered in a 3-2 win over Ottawa on Tuesday night.
The Bruins needed an offensive injection and they got one with the acquisition of Jagr, yet his arrival won't replace Bergeron's absence. This is not the baby-faced assassin that roamed the ice during the 90's. Jagr is still a force despite his advanced years, leading his former team the Dallas Stars with 14 goals and 26 points. He will be used immediately to spice up a lethargic Boston power play that ranks 25th in the NHL, connecting on only 14.7 percent of their man-advantage opportunities.
On Tuesday night the offense revved up and blasted a season-high 50 shots on Ottawa goaltender Robin Lehner. It paved the way to their 3-2 victory but head coach Claude Julien realized that if it were not for the heroics of backup goaltender Anton Khudobin and his 45 saves on 47 shots, the result could have been markedly different. To that end, Bruins management snagged veteran defenseman Wade Redden to bolster their defensive corps and mentor the young blueliners.
The Devils are tail spinning at the wrong time. They have dropped their last four games with the most recent defeat occurring on Monday night when they lost 3-1 on their own ice to the New York Islanders. It's not as though the Devils are being blown out, as a matter of fact their recent skid has them losing two shootouts, one overtime and then by a pair of goals to the Isles. Martin Brodeur is back between the pipes but even the future Hall-of-Famer can't ignite a lackluster offense that is ranked 24th in goals scored.
See what regular contributor, David Lawrence thinks about the Winnipeg vs. Montreal game!~
There are a few things prohibiting me from pounding the Bruins tonight. Well, more than a few things so let me explain. First, the absence of Bergeron and the long-term ramifications it may have on this team is immeasurable. He is a quiet leader and there is no doubt his teammates understand how potentially devastating this injury could be to their postseason chances and to his career.
Secondly, Jagr may take time to gel with his new team. Chemistry is a very real part of the game. Next, I'm not sold on Tukkaa Rask as an elite goaltender. Yes, he's got a 2.02 GAA and has a fine .922 save percentage which ranks him 9th in the league of netminders with over 10 games played. But he's got a solid defense in front of him led by Zdeno Chara and I have witnessed some very soft goals against him this season.
Lastly, the line is too high in my estimation. Though the Bruins have absolutely dominated the Devils, going 8-1 over the past three seasons, there are a lot of things swirling in that Bruins locker room with Bergeron down for the count. I'm not going to get too caught up in "value", because there is no value in losing regardless of the price, however I will back the road pup here for this NHL pick.
Play New Jersey +170 for 2 units at Sports Bet.