The Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators get together tonight in a rare meeting from Music City. The B’s have alternated wins and losses over their last six games but have won three in a tow on the road while the Predators sit third in the Central Division at the moment despite alternating wins and losses over their last six games as well.
Let’s see what gives tonight with a Bruins vs. Predators NHL Pick from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville!
Bruins vs. Predators Betting Odds
*Odds courtesy of BetOnline
|Bruins||-108||-1.5 (+205)||Over 5.5 (+127)|
|Predators||-102||+1.5 (-245)||Under 5.5 (-140)|
Offense and Defense
For the first time in some time, the Bruins haven’t exactly been a force at either end of the ice.
I mean, they haven’t been terrible anywhere either, but their offense will enter this one ranked 17th with 2.95 goals per game on the season and could be in tough again as Brad Marchand continues his three-game suspension for a slew-foot against the Canucks on Sunday.
That offense was able to produce just one goal in a 2-1 upset loss to the Red Wins on home ice in game one of Marchand’s three-gamer, but they probably deserved a better fate given they out-shot the Wings 42-16 in that one.
Nonetheless, the underlying data isn’t a big fan of their work, either. The B’s sit 28th in high-danger chances for/60 and 18th in expected goals for/60 at 5v5 this season, according to Natural Stat Trick. Their 2.17 goals/60 at 5v5 is a little below their 2.32 expected mark, but not by a substantial margin as the team’s lack of depth up front behind the big boys on the first line has been a concern.
While we’re used to seeing the Bruins at least a top-five defense, that hasn’t been the case so far, although they’ve deserved better if the underlying data means anything to you.
The Bruins sit 14th with 2.79 goals against per game on the season, although they also sit first in high-danger chances against/60 and expected goals against/60 at 5v5. Their 2.50 goals against/60 at 5v5 is well above their 1.83 expected mark, so it certainly appears this defense deserves a better fate at even strength.
They’ve held their opponent to just three goals over the last two games and two goals or less in three of the last four, so perhaps that regression has kicked in some and should continue to do so as the season moves along.
For a third-place team in a division with a +1 goal differential, it’s not hard to guess that this Predators team is hovering around the middle of the pack in both offense and defense.
Indeed, their 2.91 goals per game and 2.86 goals against per game on the season both rank right in the middle of the pack, but the offense has not been very good in generating chances.
Indeed, the Preds’ offense sits second-last in terms of high-danger chances for/60 and 24th in expected goals for/60 at 5v5 on the season. Their 2.22 goals/60 at 5v5 is right in line with their 2.15 expected mark, however, so it would appear they’re more or less deserved their offensive fate to this point.
Coming off a six-goal outburst over the visiting Blue Jackets on Tuesday, they’ll look to keep the momentum going into this one tonight.
While the defense is also in the middle of the pack overall, the even-strength data is encouraging. The Preds also sit third in high-danger chances against/60 and seventh in expected goals against/60 at 5v5. Their 2.22 goals against/60 at 5v5 is right in line with their 2.14 expected mark (pretty much identical to the offensive numbers), so that Predators even-strength defense has also been quite deserving of their fate.
That defense has been Jekyll and Hyde of late, however. They’ve allowed five goals or more in three of their last six but also two goals or less in three of those six, so we’ll see which group shows up tonight.
According to Daily Faceoff, Jeremy Swayman is likely to get the starting nod for the road side in this one tonight.
If so, Swayman would enter this one sporting a decent 2.42 GAA and .908 Sv% on the season, although Hockey Reference calculates his goals saved above average (GSAA) in negative territory at -1.09, good for 40th in the NHL among qualified netminders.
Thanks to a lights-out performance last season that included a 1.50 GAA and .945 SV% in 10 games, he owns a career 1.96 GAA and .927 Sv% and a GSAA over 9.00 in his first 20 career NHL games. Considering this season’s slightly subpar work, those figures would be a little misleading. That being said, he did dominate to the tune of a 1.89 GAA and .933 Sv% in nine AHL games on the heels of a lights-out final season at the University of Maine, so the 23-year-old seemingly has plenty of upside in his game.
There’s no confirmed netminder for the road side as of late, but it’s hard to imagine that Juuse Saros does not get the starting nod after a big-time effort that saw him blank the Blue Jackets on 27 shots his last time out. The fact that backup David Rittich was torched for six goals against the Avalanche in their second-to-last game should lock this decision in for head coach John Hynes.
One of the best yet underrated netminders in the NHL, Saros has put together a 2.35 GAA and .922 Sv% across 18 starts on the season, going 10-7-1 in the process. Saros’ 4.83 GSAA puts him 13th among qualified goaltenders.
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) November 17, 2021
Still just 26 yet with 173 career NHL games under his belt, Saros has posted a career 2.48 GAA and .920 Sv% with a GSAA over 45 in that time, largely in the shadow of Preds legend Pekka Rinne. In his first season as the unquestioned No. 1, however, he’s delivered in spades.
Special teams have been a major key to success for this Bruins team in the past and despite a so-so 11-8-0 start to their season, the special teams have been rock solid.
For the power play, they sit fifth with a healthy 25.9% clip on the season while dominating in that facet of late. Their lone goal against Detroit on Tuesday came on the man advantage in three opportunities, making them 5 for 12 (41.7%) over their last four games. Even without Marchand, this is a very dangerous group.
The penalty kill might not be among the league leaders, but it’s been solid nonetheless. That unit ranks 10th with an 83.9% mark on the season and have killed nine of their last 10 short-handed situations.
The Bruins’ penalty kill has also gone 25 for their last 27, good for a 92.3% clip. Certainly, having both special teams ranking in the league’s top 10 is a major plus for this Bruins club.
Known for having a subpar power play over the last few seasons, this year’s Preds have altered that narrative.
That Predators power play enters this one ranked sixth — one spot behind the Bruins — with a 25% clip and will only get better with the return of Filip Forsberg who bagged four goals in the blowout win over the Blue Jackets on Tuesday in his return to action.
The Preds went 1 for 4 on Tuesday, but have also gone 6 for 26 (23%) over their last eight games, so they’ve been a very consistent and productive group throughout the season.
The penalty kill has been a different story. The Preds sit 24th with a 78.6% mark on the PK for the season, but the work of late has been rough.
They’ve allowed at least one power-play goal in six of their last 10 games, going 20 for 27 (74.1%) in that time. That said, they’re 9 for 11 (81.2%) over their last five games, so at least some improvement has taken place of late, although this is an area that needs to be addressed moving forward, of course.
- Bruins are 4-0 in their last four games as a road favorite
- Bruins are 2-5 in their last seven games vs. a team with a winning record
- Over is 4-0 in the Bruins’ last four road games
- Over is 5-1-1 in the Bruins’ last seven games as a road favorite
- Predators are 5-2 in their last seven as a home underdog
- Predators are 20-8 in their last 28 home games
- Over is 4-0 in the Predators’ last four overall
- Under is 7-3 in the Predators’ last 10 home games
Head to Head
- Predators are 5-1 in the last six meetings in Nashville
- Home team is 19-7 in the last 26 meetings
- Over is 5-1 in the last six meetings
Bruins vs. Predators NHL Pick
As noted in the opening, both teams have been bouncing back and forth between wins and losses as consistency hasn’t been a part of either team’s season to this point.
That being said, with the home-ice advantage where they’re 7-4-1 on the season compared to the Bruins 4-4-0 record on the road, I’m going with the Preds here as slight home dogs.
I like the fact the Predators have their best left-winger back in Forsberg, a player that can score with the best of em’ when hot and I would consider him hot after tucking four on Tuesday. At the same time, the Bruins are without their star left winger in Marchand, so that’s a win for the Preds here.
Perhaps more than anything, I’m a big believer in Saros and according to the underlying data, he’s been well-protected by this Predators defense. I truly believe he can be a top-five netminders in this league and his career numbers show that even if he was in a backup/1B role for the last several seasons.
The jury is out on whether this Preds team is indeed a playoff club, but for at least right now this season, the same can be said for the Bruins as they needed to rack up some much-needed points in their games in hand on much of the east if they’re going to get comfortably back into the race.
For tonight, I’ll grab the Preds on the back of Saros and a strong home game to knock off the Bruins as slight home dogs.