Penguins vs. Bruins NHL Pick – January 28, 2021

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It doesn’t get much uglier than this, folks.

It’s been a tough go of late, but the good news is I’ve been missing by inches, not miles. A night after taking a pair of 3-2 losses despite holding 2-1 leads, it was more of the same last night.

We had the Preds over the Blackhawks in regulation, and Nashville held a 1-0 lead midway through the third. That’s when Chicago’s Ryan Carpenter banked one in off Juuse Saros to tie the game and after the Preds failed on a power play and multiple Grade-A scoring chances thereafter, a 2-1 Predators shootout win sank our pick. We literally aren’t getting the bounces.

I also had the Over 6.5 between the Sens and Canucks. We needed two third-period goals with the Canucks up 4-1 after two, but got just one in a 5-1 Canucks final. The Sens inability to capitalize on their 43 shots on goal cost us dearly in that one.

I’m frustrated of course but not down and out as we could easily be 4-0 but have been victimized by poor luck all over the place.

We’ll get things turned around, so let’s take a look at this Penguins vs. Bruins NHL pick and get back on the right track!

  • Season Record: 6-12
  • Units: -7.15

Penguins vs. Bruins Betting Odds

  • Penguins (+114)
  • Bruins (-126)
  • Penguins +1.5 (-225)
  • Bruins -1.5 (+195)
  • Over 5.5 (-114)
  • Under 5.5 (+103)

Penguins vs. Bruins NHL Pick Breakdown

Penguins

Offense

It’s been a solid but unspectacular offense start for the Penguins this season as their 3.00 goals per game puts them smack-dab in the middle of the pack in share of 14th alongside the Hurricanes and Blues.

It’s pretty much the same story with the power play as well with their 20.8% clip sitting 14th entering this matchup with the Bruins tonight.

Truthfully, we should expect more from this group. Their forward group is actually almost fully healthy at the moment, something that was not the case despite them finishing 10th in overall offense last season without the services of Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby for large stretches overlapping each other.

That said, it doesn’t appear the Penguins are generating much in terms of scoring chances despite the wealth of talent up front. At 5v5 this season, they rank 20th in scoring chances for/60, 16th in high-danger chances for/60 and 18th in expected goals for/60, as per Natural Stat Trick. More than anything else, these numbers tell us that they are essentially deserving of their middle-of-the-pack offensive showing so far, although their 2.46 goals/60 is above their 2.11 expected goals/60 at 5v5 this season.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a superior top six than what this Penguins team can throw at you, and the top-line trio of Guentzel, Crosby and Bryan Rust has done their part. The problem has been the Malkin line underneath as Jason Zucker and Malkin have just three points each in seven games, although Kasperi Kapanen is off to a hot start in his return to Pittsburgh, notching a goal and three points in his four games after dealing with visa issues that kept him out early.

The secondary scoring has been there, so we’ll see if Malkin’s group can show up for this one tonight.

Defense

While the forward group is healthy, the defense has been absolutely ravaged by injuries so far.

The team was already without top-six defenders in Marcus Pettersson and Michael Matheson prior to Tuesday’s game against the Bruins, but their top defensive defenseman in Brian Dumoulin went down with an injury in that one and is likely out for this one tonight. Add in Juuso Riikola’s injury and the Penguins are without four of their top eight defenders at the moment.

That certainly doesn’t bode well, but they hung tough on Tuesday regardless, allowing just two regulation goals to the Bruins before allowing a late OT winner on a 2 on 0 breakaway.

Given the injuries, it’s not a shock to see the Penguins tied for 27th with 3.71 goals against per game on the season. That said, their 5v5 advanced metrics disagree to an extent. At 5v5 this season, the Penguins rank 11th in scoring chances against/60, although 22nd in high-danger chances against/60 and 17th in expected goals against/60. That certainly doesn’t scream a 27th-ranked defense, but their T-22nd-ranked 75% penalty kill has done them zero favors.

At the end of the day, the undermanned Penguins back end will have their hands full in this one.

Goaltending

Also doing the Penguins’ overall defensive number no favors has been the goaltending they’ve received from either Tristian Jarry or backup Casey DeSmith.

After a breakout year that saw him post a 2.43 GAA and .921 Sv% last season, Jarry owns a 3.91 GAA and .868 Sv% in five starts this season. For his part, DeSmith has worked to a solid 2.76 GAA, but also a brutal .871 Sv% in two starts and three appearances on the season.

While we don’t have a confirmed starter from the Penguins’ side of the things yet, I would suggest Jarry gets this nod with no back-to-back at play.

While his overall numbers are quite poor, Jarry’s actually been solid of late. He allowed nine goals in less than four periods of action in two games against the Flyers to open his season, but actually owns a solid .917 Sv% over his last three starts. He’s allowed just two regulation goals over his last two games.

He hasn’t fared well in his career against these Bruins, however, posting a 3.86 GAA and .881 Sv% in six career appearances against them, but he’s certainly at least carrying some momentum into this one tonight.

Bruins

Offense

The Bruins have began their season without sniper David Pastrnak, and while he’s close to a return, it won’t be for this one tonight.

Without their best goal-scorer, the Bruins’ offense has predictably scuffled while averaging 2.67 goals per game on the season, good for 22nd league wide. That’s despite a power play that’s remained potent at 35% on the season, good for fifth in the league.

Their advanced 5v5 data tells us they should probably have scored more at even strength than they have so far. They rank 14th in scoring chances for/60, 19th in high-danger chances for/60 and 15th in expected goals for/60. Their actual 1.34 goals for/60 at 5v5 sits well below their expected 2.19 mark.

A lack of finish has been an issue as the Bruins rank 19th in high-danger shooting rate at 5v5, but also 30th in overall 5v5 shooting rate at a tiny 4.35% mark that is certainly due for major regression moving forward.

In addition to Pastrnak’s absence, the Bruins will also be without another top-six forward in Jake DeBrusk tonight in addition to  Ondrej Kase who has played just two games this season.

So, while a vulnerable Penguins back end awaits, the Bruins are certainly beat up among their forward group with a paper-thin bottom-six group entering this one.

Defense

As per usual, the Bruins are preventing goals with the best of em’.

Their schedule began with three games against weak offenses in the Devils (twice) and Islanders, allowing just five goals in that span. They’ve allowed seven in the three games since, but the Bruins are still tied for third with just 2.00 goals against per game on the season while their 92.3% penalty kill is the best in the business at the moment.

I admit I expected some regression, not only due to the losses of Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara in free agency, but because of the inexperience that would replace them. So far, the likes of Jeremy Lauzon and Jakub Zboril have passed the test, but they’ll certainly get another stiff one tonight.

At 5v5, the Bruins rank ninth in scoring chances against/60, 10th in high-danger chances against/60 and fourth in expected goals against/60, so the metrics certainly back up their strong play defensively so far this season.

One personnel note on the back end surrounds Matt Grzelcyk as he is questionable after missing the last two games with a lower-body injury, but head coach Bruce Cassidy sounded optimistic about a Thursday return as he skated with Brandon Carlo on the team’s second pair during Wednesday’s practice session.

Goaltending

Tuukka Rask was a player that did not practice on Wednesday as Cassidy said he wasn’t feeling 100% after Tuesday’s win, so the team will pivot to their 1B option in Jaroslav Halak for this one tonight.

Halak has been sensational to start the season, posting a 1.44 GAA and .938 Sv% across his two starts on the season, the first a shootout win over the Devils and the second a 6-1 pounding of the Flyers on Saturday.

It’s steady as she goes for Halak who has been excellent since moving over to the defensively-stout Bruins. Halak posted a 2.34 GAA and .922 Sv% in his first year with the Bruins and followed that up with a 2.39 GAA and .919 Sv% last season. His early-season numbers are obviously due to regress, but with three goals against in two games so far, it’s hard to argue with results.

Penguins vs. Bruins NHL Pick

The Penguins should absolutely have won Tuesday’s affair as they were fortunate to get a 3-on-0 breakaway in overtime, only to have Rask pokecheck a pass while the Penguins failed to even get a shot.

After that, they didn’t deserve the win despite the effort all night long and Craig Smith’s OT winner sealed it for Boston.

I expected another close one tonight. It’s interesting as the Penguins’ defense is battered, but so is the Bruins’ offense. A healthy Pittsburgh offense should face a healthy Bruins defense, however, and both goaltenders have been good of late.

To me, I can see value here in going with the road underdogs in this one.

After dropping two straight to open their season, the Penguins are 4-0-1 and should be 5-0-0 given the OT opportunity that presented itself Tuesday.

The Penguins’ back end is a concern and they’ll have to kill penalties, but given the makeup of the offense and regression headed Halak’s way in goal, I think the Penguins can get past the Bruins tonight as road dogs at a line that’s shifted from +105 to +114 since coming out.

The Bet
PENGUINS
+114
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Brenton Kemp / Author

Brenton is a lifelong sports fan who resides in Ontario, Canada. Brenton is a fan of most all sports but specializes in hockey, baseball, football, basketball, and golf. He’s a fierce researcher with a strong appetite to deliver accurate and relevant facts that in turn have led to past success with picks and DFS advice across the board. Brenton’s biggest goal is to deliver readers with the picks and advice that can build their bankroll. He takes great pride in his success and loves nothing more than to share that success for the benefit of everyone involved.

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