NHL Picks: Strong Offense Makes Bruins The Team To Back When Facing Struggling Ducks

Swinging Johnson

Friday, March 18, 2016 4:32 PM UTC

Friday, Mar. 18, 2016 4:32 PM UTC

Anaheim is the second stop on the Bruins’ four-game road trip while the Ducks are hoping to turn things around after dropping four of their last five. Let’s review this matchup and get a NHL pick.

Boston Bruins (39-32, -0.7 units)
The Boston Bruins would love to hit their stride and skate into the postseason as the Atlantic Division winner and earn a home ice matchup with a wildcard entry. However, the Florida Panthers currently hold the Atlantic’s top spot and are three crucial points ahead of the Bruins. With 11 games to play Boston’s fortunes could change drastically depending upon what they and the other playoff bound teams do down the stretch.

It is not out of the realm of possibility that the B’s could go from division winning contenders to a team on the outside looking in when the playoffs commence. Only six points separate Boston from Philadelphia who, if the postseason started today, would be the highest point total team not to make the Eastern Conference cut.  that the Bruins sustained in their last outing on Tuesday night when they took a 2-1 first period lead over the Sharks and watched it melt away resulting in a 3-2 defeat. Ironically, Boston has been aces on the road this season with a 23-11 record and if you have been backing them blindly in your NHL picks when they take to the highway then you have seen a healthy return of +13.6 units.


Anaheim Ducks (38-31, -2.1 units)
The Ducks went from heroes to zeroes in a matter of 48 hours as they throttled the Devils 7-1 on Monday night then bowed 2-1 to the Rangers on Wednesday night. The Ducks went without a man-advantaged opportunity for the first time since mid-December and were unable to capitalize on the fact that All-World netminder Henrik Lundqvist was given a rare night off.

Nevertheless, his backup Antti Raanta was brilliant as he turned aside 21 of the Ducks’ 22 shots. Anaheim has also been contending with injuries as defenseman Kevin Bieksa and center Nate Thompson were both sidelined for their second straight game with lower-body injuries while defenseman Sami Vatanen missed his third straight game with an upper-body injury.

The Ducks offensive production has been down this season scoring only 2.5 goals per game which ranks them 24th in the league. But curiously their power play unit has been outstanding, connecting on 23.3 percent of their opportunities (2nd). However, their defense has been superb with a solid corps of blueliners and the stellar goaltending efforts of John Gibson and Frederik Andersen who have combined for the second best goals allowed coupled with the number one penalty killing unit in the league.


Betting Analysis
Anaheim won the only meeting between these clubs back in January when the Ducks torched the B’s 6-2 at the Boston Garden. Over the past three seasons the Ducks are 4-1 versus Boston and have returned +3.2 units to the Anaheim faithful. However that 6-2 margin of victory earlier this season and the Ducks three wins in their last four meetings with Boston is not indicative of how close these two clubs are in terms of talent. Anaheim has the edge defensively but Boston is far superior offensively holding the 3rd ranked scoring average in the league.

The NHL odds are favoring the Ducks but I believe this line is a bit out of whack. Despite the fact that Boston lost their last game on the road to the Sharks they are still a force to be reckoned with when on the highway and have had since Tuesday to rest up for this face off in Anaheim. I will take what I perceive to be a generous return on Boston versus a recently struggling Anaheim squad.

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Free NHL Pick: Boston +125
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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