Bruins-Lightning Betting Preview: The NHL’s Two Best Teams Meet in Tampa
Brian Fluharty, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Brad Marchand
Betting odds: Boston Bruins at Tampa Bay Lightning
- Bruins moneyline: +130
- Lightning moneyline: -150
- Over/Under: 6
- Rest notes: Lightning 4-in-6
- Puck drop: 7:30 p.m. ET
Season record: 39-40, +14.67 units
>> All odds as of 10 p.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NHL odds and track your bets
The Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins are the two best teams in the NHL. The Lightning lead the NHL with 120 points while the Bruins are tied with the Flames for second at 101 points.
It is a shame that these two teams play in the same division, as it means they will — barring any upsets in Round 1 of the NHL playoffs — meet in Round 2. That’s hardly fair, but thanks to the NHL’s asinine playoff format, this is how things are in 2019.
Anyways, that’s for later. Let’s talk about now.
The Lightning have already clinched the Presidents’ Trophy, given to the team that accumulates the most points in the regular season, and will have home-ice throughout the playoffs, but they are still playing for something.
The Bolts are just four wins shy of tying the 1995-96 Red Wings for most wins (62) in an NHL season. In other words, Jon Cooper’s team has no intention of lollygagging through the last two weeks of the regular season.
It’s pretty clear that Tampa Bay is the league’s most complete team, but how far behind are the Bruins?
While Tampa certainly has the edge over Boston in terms of high-end skill up front, the Bruins are the league’s premier defensive team.
Boston leads the league in goals allowed per 60 minutes at 5v5 and ranks in the top 3 in the NHL in suppressing shot attempts, scoring chances, expected goals and high-danger scoring chances at 5v5.
In terms of pace, the Bruins strive to play low-event hockey. They succeed by limiting your opportunities and cashing in on their chances.
No line in the NHL is better at executing that strategy than David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. That trio is one of the few units in the NHL that can hang with Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and company.
The Lightning, for all their offensive firepower, don’t play at an overwhleming pace. In fact, they are pretty much bang average in terms of tempo. With neither team looking to push the pace, I think this game could turn into a bit of a rock fight and that should help level the playing field.
Both teams are missing key players for this game, Tampa Bay will be without Yanni Gourde (suspension) and Boston will not have Torey Krug (concussion), but the B’s could get Matt Grzelcyk and Marcus Johansson back from injury. The Bruins will be the most rested team on Monday night as they are on regular rest while the Bolts are playing their fourth game in six nights.
The Lightning and Bruins are the NHL’s best two teams. This game, especially with Tampa playing 4-in-6, is closer than the odds suggest (Tampa Bay has an implied probability of ~58%). I’d back the Bruins in this spot down to +125.
The Bet: Boston Bruins +130