Bruins vs. Lightning Odds, Preview, Prediction: Jump on Tampa Bay to Cruise Past Boston (Jan. 8)

Bruins vs. Lightning Odds, Preview, Prediction: Jump on Tampa Bay to Cruise Past Boston  (Jan. 8) article feature image

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images. Pictured: Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.

  • Boston travels to Tampa for a budding rivalry between two Atlantic Division foes.
  • The Bruins recently had a three-game winning streak snapped and are +130 road favorites against the Lightning.
  • Nicholas Martin breaks down the game and gives his top pick, below.

Bruins vs. Lightning Odds

Bruins Odds+130
Lightning Odds-150
Time7 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

Yet again, Nikita Kucherov returned to the lineup without missing a beat Thursday, posting two assists as the Tampa Bay Lightning thoroughly dominated a very strong Calgary Flames team in a 4-1 win.

On the other side,  Boston saw its three-game winning streak snapped in a 3-2 to loss to the Minnesota Wild in a hotly contested affair.

There's certainly a bit of a budding rivalry between these two Atlantic Division rivals, and my sense is there's a desire to best one another.

Unsurprisingly considering their absurd run of success the last three years, that has left Tampa Bay's stars enjoying these matchups more so of late. Will the Lightning be able to post another satisfying victory over the Bruins?

Tampa Bay Lightning

It was only fitting that Brayden Point's tap in on a ridiculous slap pass from Kucherov went as Thursday's game winner, with Kucherov freezing everybody  for his first point back in the lineup in what was an excellent return to play.

Tampa Bay thoroughly dominated a really strong Calgary team at 5-on-5 in the contest, moving its record to 6-2-1 over its last nine games with a 52.98 xGF%, very in line with its consistent play so far this season.

As well as obviously bringing a lot to the table at even-strength, reuniting on one of the league's very best lines with Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat, Kucherov should bring a notable boost to Tampa Bay's 15th ranked power-play unit so far this season.

It's easy to assume a notable uptick will come with Tampa Bay now having all five pieces of its consistently deadly power play reunited yet again. And that top unit looked quite dangerous Thursday with Kucherov's otherworldly half-wall play offering a notable boost. We have seen over the last two postseasons it's next to impossible to keep that top unit entirely at bay.

Andrei Vasilevskiy should draw the start and his spectacular play has him in the Vezina conversation again, holding a +16.9 goals saved above expected rating and .926 save percentage. I actually think backing him at the current price of +500 to win that is a great future as well.

Boston Bruins

Similar to what we have seen from the Bruins during much of coach Bruce Cassidy's tenure, they've  done a tremendous job of limiting the opposition's high-quality scoring chances and have held team's to a notably low 1.83 xGA/60 over their last six contests.

As strong as they have been in recent years, the one area to nitpick has been the depth scoring, which again continues to be a factor this season, and they should again be looking to add some stronger depth forwards near the deadline, with names like Nick Foligno and Erik Haula failing to contribute.

This is obviously still a notably strong team, but the lack of contributions from depth forwards is again a clear flaw compared to other cup contenders, evidenced by the Bruins' 18th-best goals for per game this season.

It's been a close battle in Boston's crease between Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark for starts, and it could become a more crowded situation with Tuukka Rask now readying for an NHL return in Providence.

It's unclear who will draw the start, but I would lean toward Ullmark drawing back in, who has posted a -0.2 goals saved above expected rating with a .917 save % throughout 14 games this season.

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Bruins vs Lightning Pick

There's a very notable sense that this incredibly competitive Lightning team love to beat up on the Bruins. And while Boston is no pushover itself, that's not good news because when this Lightning team is at its best it's bad news for any opposition.

Tampa Bay has already generated the league's second-most high danger chances this season, and considering that one of the game's most deadly players in Nikita Kucherov has barely been in the lineup, that's a scary notion.

As outlined we can safely expect a notable uptick from the Lightning's 15th-ranked power play, with Kucherov back in the fold to go alongside their strong play at 5-on-5. Add in the spectacular play yet again from the world's very best goaltender in Vasilevskiy.

Boston is still playing some excellent hockey, but hold notably less scoring punch at 5-on-5 than its foe. And with Tampa Bay having all five pieces back on its No. 1 power play, which has regularly lit the league on fire of late when healthy, likely are still at a disadvantage with regards to special-teams play.

It wouldn't surprise me to see Boston do a good job playing to its strengths and possibly create a lower-scoring contest, but I still think there's enough edge with the Lightning to take this one they hold value at -140 odds.

I would back Tampa bay all the way to -160 and prefer that selection compared to the under in this game.

Pick: Tampa Bay (-140) | Play to -160

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