Sunday NHL Odds, Picks, Predictions for Bruins vs. Penguins: Back Boston in Matchup of Stanley Cup Contenders (April 25)
Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Taylor Hall.
- Two Cup contenders square off on Sunday when the Penguins host the Bruins.
- Boston's deadline deals have paid off thus far, and its defense is getting healthy.
- Nicholas Martin breaks down where he sees betting value in this East Division clash.
Bruins vs. Penguins Odds
|Time||Sunday, 3 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Saturday and via FanDuel|
The Bruins will come into PPG Paints Arena to take on the Penguins for a Sunday matinee between two legitimate Stanley Cup contenders in the East Division.
Between the Bruins, Capitals, Penguins and Islanders, there is next to no separation atop the East. All will offer a very formidable Round One opponent. Home-ice advantage is likely less relevant than many pundits will expect since home teams had an 86-87 record between the 2018 and 2019 playoffs (2020 is excluded due to the playoff bubble).
So while this matchup will undoubtedly be hard-fought and an entertaining postseason tune-up, claiming first in the East is not likely to offer much of an edge coming into the postseason. In that regard, this matchup is less crucial than the cliché takes from analysts will state.
Boston enters this one having had its six-game winning streak snapped last time out against Buffalo. Besides that lone result, it has been quite a dominant stretch for the group. The Bruins hold a 6-1 record since the trade deadline, rewarding general manager Don Sweeney for making some smart acquisitions in Taylor Hall, Mike Reilly and Curtis Lazar.
The Bruins' defensive core is finally close to healthy, with just Brandon Carlo out injured. The results of finally having a mainly healthy back end are certainly showing for this group. Boston have an expected goals against (xGA)/60 of 1.78 in the seven post-deadline contests, and an expected goals for (xGF)% of 60.41 en route to outscoring opponents 27-13.
Patrice Bergeron was a late scratch on Friday night vs the Sabres and is considered day to day with a lower body injury. His status for this Sunday is unknown.
Jeremy Swayman has been confirmed as Boston's starter between the pipes. The former Hobey Baker nominee has been very impressive in NHL starts, with a .943 SV% and a GAA of 1.65.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
Pittsburgh emerged victorious yet again over New Jersey on Saturday afternoon with a 4-2 victory that momentarily moved them atop the division. The Pens have managed a very strong record of 7-2-1 over their last 10, all coming against teams outside of the playoffs in the East Division however.
The Pens have skated to an xGF% of 49.44 in this stretch of 10 games against non-playoff competition. They have scored at a far greater rate than expected over that span, somewhat due to the talent on the roster I am sure, but also certainly in large part due to facing consistently weak goaltending.
With that said, you can only handle the competition at hand and Pittsburgh have solidified a playoff berth with this hot stretch of play. The Penguins continue to skate without Evgeni Malkin, who has been skating in a non-contact sweater and is drawing closer to a return.
Betting Analysis & Pick
This Boston group is showing just how dominant it can be, finally playing with most of their regular defense and the addition of Reilly working out well. Hall is showing some good signs on the second line, and the potential for some real support beyond the perfection line is massive for the Bruins.
The Penguins are certainly a legitimate playoff contender, and Malkin returning to his peak form would offer a tremendous boost. Altogether, though, I think this Boston group has a better chance at a deep playoff run given the strength of the back end and considerably better options at the goaltending position in Rask and Swayman.
I think that given a pick-em price Boston holds value here since we should see a Swayman vs. Jarry goaltending matchup, as well as Pittsburgh playing its second leg of a back-to-back set.
Pick: Boston -108