It certainly was not the start Sidney Crosby and his Pittsburgh Penguins were looking for in Game 1 on Saturday night. The high-powered Penguins were shut out for the first time since February of 2012, and many of their star players looked lost and were left searching for answers. The Bruins played a typical Boston road game. They limited quality scoring chances and finished checks to get Pittsburgh’s attack out of sync. In an all-important Game 2 scenario, expect a much better effort from the Penguins tonight. Read on below for further thoughts and game notes for tonight’s match-up.
Boston Bruins (+170) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (-200)
Over 5.5 Goals (+105) / Under 5.5 Goals (-125)
Boston’s Game 1 performance was incredibly impressive to watch. Their defense, led by team captain Zdeno Chara was relentless. Pittsburgh’s high-octane attack looked lost, and their star players were entirely off of their game. Whether or not Boston can turn in another outing to replicate Game 1 remains to be seen. This is a Pittsburgh squad that possesses the league’s top offense and they tend to rebound very well following a dismal effort.
While I’d bank on the Pens returning the favour to the Bruins tonight, it really isn’t worth it given the current odds. Though home favourites have been immensely profitable thus far in the post-season, laying -200 with the Pens after how good Boston looked Saturday night does not seem like a long-term winning solution. For tonight, we’ll look to the totals market and recommend a heavy lean to the Under 5.5 goals.
Claude Julien’s Bruins’ teams have long been known for just how stingy they can be in giving up goals. They possess one of the league’s best defensive groups and Tuukka Rask right now is making a strong case for one of the league’s top goalies and the #1 in the crease for Finland in Sochi. Boston did a great job Saturday night getting Crosby and Malkin off their games, and gave up very few prime scoring opportunities. Their advanced statistics show the Bruins controlled possession in key areas, and while they know Game 2 will be much tougher, this Boston team knows the opportunity Game 2 provides them and expect another great outing from this veteran group. The Bruins will not allow the Pens to run wild on them and they should be able to keep their offense in check for the remainder of this series. For this reason, consider tonight’s Under.
The Penguins will rebound, they’re simply too good not to. Crosby and Malkin won’t be able to be kept off the scoresheet for long, but it’s tough to ignore the heroic defensive effort put forth by the Bruins in Game 1. Boston will again be stifling in their checking, frustrating a Pittsburgh team that requires freedom and space to create their magic. On the other hand, Pittsburgh’s defensive game was called out following Game 1 and many key players in that dressing room have vowed to improve. While Tomas Vokoun has been stellar thus far in goal for the Pens, he was just average in Game 1. If he’s not that great tonight, don’t be surprised to see that as a perfect opportunity for Marc-Andre Fleury to steal back the net. The Canadian has star potential and already has a Cup title to his name. He’s got the ability to definitely keep scores low and if he gets between the pipes, I expect big things once again.
Expect a tightly played contest and a game that resembles Game 1 for the most part. The Pittsburgh power play will excel and expect that to be the difference in a low-scoring affair. The Bruins are too good to give up an excessive amount of scoring chances and goals, and their offense remains a work in progress. Look for those factors to combine and give us another score-line under 5.5 goals. Enjoy the game.
PICK = Under 5.5 Goals (-125)