NHL Betting Preview: Boston vs. Pittsburgh

December 14, 2016 •

Tonight should be a very fun game, as for NHL mid-week Wednesday rivalry night, the Boston Bruins will visit the defending Stanley Cup champions. The Bruins will try for a sixth straight win over the Penguins, but they’ll come in as +155 betting underdogs when you check out the latest sportsbooks. Boston was able to put an end to a three-game losing streak by beating the Montreal Canadiens on Monday, 2-1 in overtime. They were the +113 underdogs in a feisty affair that got pretty chippy.

A similar game awaits them tonight, as on Monday the Bruins has to kill off five penalties against the Habs. That practice improved their record to 17-for-17 on the penalty kill over their past six games but only translated to a win recently. Hard fought, that win in Montreal was only the second road victory for Boston in their past six games away from home. Overall though, they are 9-5-2 on the road this year.

Looking to tonight, the Bruins will have their dance card full dancing around a Penguins team that is coming off a confident 7-0 pounding of the Arizona Coyotes. The -330 home favorites for Monday night will be ready since they had a day off yesterday. The win against the Coyotes extended the Pens win streak to six games as they battle it out for for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division standings against their other major rivals, the New York Rangers.

The Pens this year have learned how to play defense in such a maddening way that other teams have a hard time solving them. To boot, the team’s captain and stars have caught fire during their recent streak, and have outscored opponents by a 35-14 difference.

At face value, fans know it’s going to be a great game since David Pastrnak and Sidney Crosby will be playing. The league’s leading scorers will go head to head and that should equal an exciting match up. Crosby is first in the league with 21 goals, he has 32 points in 23 games. He’s got goals in four games in a row and ten goals in his last ten games. As of today, the Pens are third in the league standings, only a point behind Montreal and Chicago, who are tied for first place with 42 points each. The Pens are 8-2-0 in their last ten, and are 12-2-1 at home this year.

Pen coach Mike Sullivan spoke to local media today about his captain, “He creates offense so many different ways. He can beat you with a speed game. He can beat you with a power game. He can beat you with a finesse game.”

Of course, it’s not just all about Crosby, it will take more than a one-man team to win. But the Penguins have balanced scoring too, and are getting a lot of solid production from their blue line, and then add in that their pair of goalies can win them games on any given night. So there is no wonder they are the favorites tonight.

As a distraction, Bruins’ David Backes can get his revenge on fellow American Phil Kessel for his disrespectful tweet sent out this past September, while Team USA was losing in the World Cup of Hockey tournament, once to which he was uninvited. So Backes would really love these two points and will be extra motivated.

It will also be interesting to see what the Bruins do with their lineup tonight, since they played so well in Montreal on Monday night, the lines will probably look the same. It took a total team effort to knock off the Habs, so they’ll need more of the same energy tonight. Despite the low goal total, that was arguably one of the most physical and entertaining games of the season so far, so Boston coach Claude Julien shouldn’t tinker with success. But he may decide to rotate Danton Heinen in.

On the win, to media David Backes said, “As a team, it was a good response (given) what our trend had been, losing three straight and knowing we were up against a tough opponent. The guys were engaged, battling for each other, standing up for each other. You like to see that character come out.”

It should come out tonight.

Prediction: Bruins over Pens, 3-2