The Boston Bruins host the New York Rangers after an historic Game 7 rally. Let’s find where the best value lies for our NHL picks tonight.
Swinging Johnson - NHL Record (11-6, +18.4 units)
*Games assigned 1 to 5 units.
We cashed yet another ticket in our NHL picks last night when I decided that the well-rested Blackhawks were indeed worthy of laying the heavy lumber over the road weary Red Wings. The only negative is that the -200 price forced us to scale back our wager but it still ticketed three more units to the good guys with an eye towards more, more, more!
I am now on a five-game NHL win streak and in addition, correctly predicted the winners of all three series I previewed in round one which happened to be the heavily favored Bruins as well as the underdog New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators. Well kids, when it’s going good it’s going good. Hop on my back and let’s cash another.
New York Rangers
When you preview the NY Rangers, the first player that comes to mind is the man between the pipes, Henrik Lundqvist. He’s the key ingredient to any success the Rangers will have against Boston or dare I say any team. He’s the reigning Vezina Trophy winner and a finalist again this year. He’s the guy and he just happens to be white hot going into Game 1 tonight after shutting out Washington in the last two consecutive games to clinch the series.
Outside of Lundqvist and a shot blocking bevy of defensemen the Rangers have Derick Brassard tallying points. Brassard is not the consummate goal scorer but he’s been vital in the postseason for New York. He collected two more assists in Game 7 and leads the club in points thus far in the playoffs. Derek Stepan is the legitimate scoring threat after scoring what turned out to be the game winner in Game 4 and leading the team in points during the regular season.
Have you caught your breath yet? Or perhaps the more important question is have the Bruins caught their collective breath yet? If you’re a Boston fan or particularly an investor in Boston’s Game 7 fortunes then you are no doubt still celebrating. What a friggin game boys!
Okay, that’s out of my system (not really) so let’s take a peek at what to expect from the boys from Beantown this evening. The bottom line is that they have a stone wall in Tukka Rask and a behemoth roaming the blueline in Zdeno Chara. Factor in a suddenly inspired Milan Lucic (what took ya so long Milan?) and a silky smooth playmaker in Patrice Bergeron and you have yourself a solid playoff team.
But we should note that the Bruins core of defensemen is young, very young. There is one rookie on each of the team’s defensive pairings which is startling when you consider that experience in the postseason is a palpable element of playoff hockey. It means something and when you have young defensemen like Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton who can exploit offensive opportunities if given the chance, will that jump in the offensive zone turn sour if the puck skips the other way and leaves their defensive partner contending with a two-on-one breakout? Yet if they are overly cautious and don’t allow their instincts to be their guide, will that become a case of paralysis by analysis? We shall see.
Both teams went seven grueling games to get to this point so rest is not a luxury either club has headed into Game 1. But we must ask ourselves how the Bruins will respond after their epic victory over the Leafs? Will it inspire them to greatness or is this opening game somewhat of a letdown? I’m not in the locker room so I don’t know and neither does any other NHL odds pundit.
But I do know both teams have made their bones on stellar goaltending and defense. While the skaters on both sides may still be a bit tuckered, I suspect Rask and Lundqvist will be their usual selves, which means razor sharp. Let’s watch this game go low and stay away from the side until we figure out who’s ready to score.
NHL Picks: Play Under 5 (-140) for 3 units at Bet365.com