Offensive Advantage Makes Bruins our NHL Pick vs. Panthers

Swinging Johnson

Friday, October 30, 2015 4:02 PM GMT

The Bruins are looking for their third consecutive victory as they travel to meet the Panthers who are seeking their third straight win as well. Let’s analyze which side gives us the greatest chance to cash in our NHL picks.

Boston Bruins (4-4, +0.0 units)
In recent history the Bruins have been built on rock solid defense but this season that equation has turned around as Boston is leading the league in goals scored averaging 4.1 per game and tops on the power play connecting on 32.1 percent of their opportunities. However, the flipside to that shiny coin has been their lack of defense and sharp goaltending. Tuukka Rask, the Bruins Vezina Trophy winning goalie, has looked quite mortal with a 3.67 GAA and a .874 save percentage. His backup, Jonas Gustavsson, owns a 2.50 goals against average complemented by a .896 save percentage which is better than Rask but by no means places him among the elite.

However those defensive woes and shoddy goaltending may be an aberration as the B’s finished off the Arizona Coyotes in their most recent outing 6-0 riding a 24 save shutout from Rask. Once again the Bruins converted a power play opportunity, this time courtesy of Brad Marchand, and played a disciplined game winning the majority of the battles in the corner and getting back on defense. They will be facing a much sterner test against the Panthers in Florida tonight.

 

Florida Panthers (5-4, +1.6 units)
The NHL odds makers offered the Panthers as -165 favorites in their last appearance against the Colorado Avalanche. Those who backed Florida in their NHL picks were not disappointed as they notched their second consecutive victory with a solid 4-1 effort in front of the fan friendlies. Vincent Trocheck had a pair of tallies in a game that saw veteran goaltender Roberto Luongo cop his 404th win of his career and gave the Panthers two points in the win column.

The Panthers are enjoying contributions from all sides as they are ranked 5th in scoring and 5th in goals allowed this season. Their power play is clicking on 27.3 percent of their opportunities which ranks them 3rd in the league as of this writing. Perhaps the only void in their game is that their penalty killing units are staving off only 79.5 percent of their opponent’s chances which ranks them 18th. Tonight their leading scorer and ageless future Hall-of-Famer Jaromir Jagr is expected to be sidelined with an injury he incurred against the Avalanche on Tuesday night.

 

NHL Picks
The Bruins are 11-4 in the last 15 meetings when playing in Florida and 21-7 in the last 28 meetings overall between the two clubs. Boston is finally showing signs of life defensively and their offense has demonstrated since the season began that head coach Claude Julien is loosening the boundaries on his strict defensive policies which has had mixed results. However, Zdeno Chara is getting healthy and Rask looks as though he may be returning to form. It appears as though both those things are happening based on the results against the Coyotes on Tuesday night.

Though the Panthers have looked sharp as well over the last pair of games they will be without their scoring and points leader Jaromir Jagr. I do find it unusual that a 43-year-old is the straw that stirs the drink offensively for the Panthers this season. While Jagr is a freak of nature to be sure the Panthers will be doomed if they expect him to maintain that kind of production throughout the season. They won’t even get the chance to test that theory tonight as Jagr will be watching from the luxury box.

NHL Pick: Bruins +104 at BetOnline

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