NHL Picks: Islanders vs. Bruins
Swinging Johnson - NHL Record (6-5, +6.00 units)
*Games assigned 1 to 5 units.
When last we spoke I advised a play on the New Jersey Devils as big underdogs over the Boston Bruins who were looking forward to Jaromir Jagr's first game with the spoked B on his chest. Ironically it was Jagr who notched the winning goal, which happened to be the only goal of the night. While there is never any value in losing, we can't help but think we had a pretty good chance of cashing with New Jersey as +170 Devil dogs that evening on the NHL odds board.
New York Islanders (20-16-4)
So what's up exactly with the Islanders? This is a team that's supposed to be so atrocious, we almost revel in it because no matter how bad our own team is because they ain't as bad as the Islanders! Well lo and behold, the Islanders are on a 7-1-1 run and are currently in a three-way tie for the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference. What kind of a world is this when the Islanders are in the postseason discussion?
Two of the standouts have been center John Tavares, who leads the team with 24 goals, and the stellar goaltending of Evgeni Nabokov who is 6-1-1 with a 1.48 goals against average over the last eight games. In addition, the Isles have been road warriors this season, going 11-5-2 on the highway but against the Bruins they have lost nine of 11 games in the series and dropped both meetings this season by scores of 4-2 and 4-1.
Boston Bruins (26-9-4)
The Bruins banked another victory last night, defeating the Devils 5-4 in New Jersey and winning the 5th of their last six games. However, it may have been a Pyrrhic victory for Boston as Brad Marchand was injured in the 2nd period with an elbow to the head by Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov. Marchand did not return and his status is unknown for tonight's clash with New Jersey.
The Bruins are 14-2-2 at home this season and are 8-0-1 over their last nine. In short, no team in the NHL has been more invincible in front of their home crowd than Boston. Though they lost a key piece of their offense in Patrice Bergeron, who is sitting out with the latest in a string of concussions throughout his career, they are solid defensively with Zdeno Chara still a force to be reckoned with and some fine goaltending by the tandem of Tuukka Rask and his capable backup Anton Khudobin.
Speaking of Rask, he has been spectacular of late, saving 107 shots and allowing only 4 goals over his last three games. That's a save percentage of 96.4 percent and Rask will most certainly be in net tonight after getting last night off. Thanks in part to Rask's heroics this season the B's are 2nd in goals allowed and 1st in their penalty killing unit.
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It would be easy to back the underdog here for this NHL Pick, particularly when the home team is returning from a scrappy road win the night before. You also have an Islanders team that is rolling at the right time. But don't get caught up in the hype. Where I saw the Devils as an opportunity to cash as big underdogs last week I don't see the same thing here. I believe the Isles are overachieving, their defense and goaltending isn't as good as they've exhibited recently and this team simply cannot defeat the Boston Bruins on any sheet of ice, particularly Boston's.