We get back to the ice in the NHL tonight, hoping to follow up a winning pick on Saturday night with another. We go from San Jose all the way over to the east coast in Boston for our Monday night pick. The Bruins welcome the Buffalo Sabres to the TD Garden for a 7:00 date. Both teams are a game above .500, with the Sabres and Bruins hoping to generate some momentum this week to pull away from the .500 mark, hopefully in the right direction. The Bruins have been up and down to open the season. They’ve looked like a contender some nights, and others they don’t look like they belong.
It was like that for the Bruins a year ago as well, which was the first season in a while that they didn’t have Milan Lucic in the lineup. The Bruins parted ways with Lucic, sending him to the LA Kings in exchange for a draft pick. Lucic didn’t really look like he belonged with the Kings, and the Bruins certainly lacked the physicality and tenacity that Lucic brought to the equation.
The defence severely lacked the same kind of toughness we came to know from Bruin teams. Tuukaa Rask also had one of his worst seasons in net, posting a GAA of 2.56 and 0.915 save percentage. You need to go back to 2010-2011 when he wasn’t even the primary starter in Boston to find a comparable year. However, Rask has been carrying the Bruins thus far. There must have been something in him that wasn’t too happy about how things panned out last week. He enters with an excellent GAA of 1.98, including a 0.932 save percentage. Other than his last start against the Rangers, where he allowed 5 goals, Rask has been pretty reliable. He will look for a bounce back spot tonight against the Sabres.
The Sabres are waiting and waiting for the return of Jack Eichel. An unfortunate ankle just days before the start of the regular season sent him to the shelf for at least two months. They say at the earliest Eichel will be back in early December, but that could easily turn into much later depending on how he recovers. Remember the Canadiens waiting and waiting for Carey Price to return last season? Price never did return, and the Sabres are hoping they don’t face a similar scenario with the talented Eichel. Evander Kane is also nursing three cracked ribs, who hopes to return to the lineup later this month. He was injured in the season opener and hasn’t played since. So, it’s quite impressive that the Sabres are holding in there with a record of 5-4-1-1. They just hope they can keep a solid record for when they’re a complete, healthier team.
The Sabres have relied on their defence, which is allowing 2.18 goals per game this season. However, they would like to have some playmakers in the lineup, notably Eichel and Kane who are in Buffalo to facilitate on the offensive end. The Sabres are 26th in goal scoring this season. They’re going to need to find a way to get some offence against Rask. Buffalo have been playing solid hockey lately, posting a record of 4-1 in their last five games. I like Rask to stone them in Boston tonight, though. The regular money line on the Bruins is far too expensive for me, but the option to win in regulation looks like nice value, and an attractive bet to me.