My most recent NHL pick came back on Thursday and it resulted in another winner as the Canadiens and Golden Knights went over 6.5 goal in a 5-4 Canadiens overtime win.
With the win, I am now riding a five-pick win streak into action tonight as we sit comfortably in profit territory entering the second month of the NHL season.
Season Record: 11-7
I have a single free NHL pick going tonight featuring a couple of Eastern Conference contenders in the Penguins vs. Bruins from the TD Garden in Boston!
Penguins vs. Bruins Betting Odds:
Over 6.0 (-106)
Under 6.0 (-104)
Penguins vs. Bruins NHL Pick
In the best matchup of the night, it’s the Penguins and Bruins from Beantown – a rivalry matchup despite the two teams skating in opposite divisions within the Eastern Conference.
For the Penguins, it’s the first of a mini-road trip that will take them through Boston and Long Island. The Pens have been decent on the road this season in going 3-2-0, but are coming off a 2-1 upset loss to the Edmonton Oilers on home ice from Saturday afternoon. It wasn’t for a lack of effort, however, as Pittsburgh put a whopping 52 shots on Oilers netminder Mike Smith, but Smith was up to the task and turned aside 51 of those shots. They outshot the Oilers 52-28 in that one and certainly deserved the win and their 0-for-5 on the power play factored into taking the loss.
However, this isn’t a team that’s struggled to score this season. They’ll enter tonight’s contest ranked 10th with 3.36 goals per game on the season and actually lead the NHL with 4.20 goals per game on the road. Pittsburgh has also dominated even-strength possession this season, netting a 53.2% Corsi For% at even strength that ranks them fourth in the league. This despite missing Evgeni Malkin for 11 games, Alex Galchenyuk for nine and Nick Bjugstad for nine as well.
While the Pens have predictably been efficient at the offensive end, it’s actually their defense that’s improved the most. People may look at this matchup and point to the Bruins’ stout defense, however it’s important to note that the Penguins are tied for fourth with just 2.36 goals against per game this season. As a result, they’re out-scoring teams by an average of one goal per game this season, the third-best mark in the league at this point. For good measure, their 2.60 goals against per game on the road this season ranks them sixth.
Getting the nod in goal tonight will be Matt Murray who has enjoyed a nice season to this point. Murray enters this one sporting a stout 2.17 GAA and .924 Sv% on the season to go along with a 7-3-1 record across 11 starts. He took the loss on Saturday despite turning aside 26 of 28 shots (.929 Sv%) and now owns a .964 Sv% over his last three starts in which he’s 2-1-0 to go along with one shutout. That shutout came in his last road start – a 3-0 win over the Dallas Stars. Murray is 2-1-0 with a 2.34 GAA and .911 Sv% in three road starts at Dallas, Florida and Minnesota.
The Bruins are in the conversation for best team in the NHL as this point. Their 22 points sit second, but they also have three games in hand on the league-leading Washington Capitals and their 25 points. They’ve also been dominant at both ends of the ice.
Boston enters this one ranked sixth with 3.54 goals per game this season and tied for fourth with 3.86 goals per game on home ice. While the offense has been excellent and their first line has been flat-out dominant on the season, it’s their defense that has allowed them to win consistently.
The Bruins sit as the league’s best defensive team at the moment in allowing just two goals per game. Furthermore, their home defense has been smothering in allowing just 1.42 goals per game. However, it’s not hard to look at those numbers and see regression written all over them. While I certainly believe they’re one of, if not the best defense in the league, there’s simply no way they continue to prevent goals at this write. For example, the Islanders’ 2.33 goals against per game last season was the best in hockey. Furthermore, the Dallas Stars ranked first with 2.24 goals against per game at home last season. As a result, the Bruins allowing two goals per game overall and 1.42 goals per game at home are wildly unsustainable – especially the latter which could be in for close to a goal-per-game regression moving forward.
The Penguins also catch somewhat of a break tonight as they’ll face 1B netminder Jaroslav Halak as opposed to the white-hot Tuukka Rask in the Boston crease. Rask owns a 1.49 GAA and .949 Sv% in going 7-0-1 on the season. Halak’s numbers are still good, but also well behind Rask as he owns a 3-1-1 record to go along with a 2.59 GAA and .919 Sv% across five starts. Furthermore, Halak has been shaky in last two outings. Interestingly, both lines read identical as he stopped 25 of 29 shots – good for an .862 Sv% – in 4-3 overtime loss in Toronto as well as a 7-4 win in New York against the Rangers. Tonight will mark his second home start of the season after turning aside 30 of 32 Anaheim Ducks shots in a 4-2 win on October 14th.
To me, I see an avenue for the Penguins to go into Boston and pull off the upset at attractive +143 odds, as per BetOnline. Their offense has been good, their defense has been good and Matt Murray enters this contest on a three-game hot streak.
Clearly, the Bruins have also been very good at both ends of the ice, but I’m looking for those defensive numbers to regress moving forward, and a matchup against a tough Penguins offense seems like an appropriate time for that to kick in. I like the fact the Penguins are getting Halak for this one coming off two shaky outings while the Penguins indeed hold the goaltending advantage in this one.
The Bruins have been very, very good this season, but like every team in NHL history, they’re not unbeatable. The Penguins will have to hold the Bruins’ top line in check, however I think they can take their now-healthy lineup and go into Boston and carve out a tough road win over the Bruins tonight as heavy road dogs.