NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Ducks vs. Bruins (October 20)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Ducks vs. Bruins (October 20) article feature image

Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images. Pictured: Boston Bruins celebrate a goal.

  • Anaheim's Eastern swing has resulted in a trio of multi-goal losses over the past week.
  • The Ducks now head to Boston to face a Bruins team that's gelled early this season.
  • Below, Nick Martin explains why the puck line is the play for tonight's matchup.

Ducks vs. Bruins Odds

Ducks Odds+170
Bruins Odds-210
Over/Under6.5 (-120 / +100)
Time7 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

Anaheim's nightmare road trip will continue Thursday night as the Bruins host the Ducks for a matchup at TD Garden.

The Ducks have lost each matchup of their Eastern road swing by two or more goals, and they have displayed some horrific defensive play in the process, allowing 17 goals against.

Boston, meanwhile, took somewhat of a scheduled loss Tuesday as it skated in a back-to-back against the Sens in Ottawa's home opener, but will look to bounce back Thursday in this far more favorable spot at home.

Can Boston hand Anaheim another loss, or are the Ducks due for a more respectable performance?

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Anaheim Ducks Even Worse Than Stats Suggest

It's a drum that I have been beating consistently since the Ducks' lucky opening night win over the Kraken, and I am certainly not going to stop now.

Anaheim has simply played horrifically bad hockey to this point in the season, and even a 1-3-0 record is one more win than the team has actually deserved.

Through four games Anaheim holds a -9 goal differential, and when you look at it game by game, I would argue even that horrid mark has been favorable to the actual play.

The Ducks' analytical results have been very poor as well, with a 36.43 xGF%, and a xGA/60 of 4.10 both clear indications of how bad Anaheim's play has been.

That runs right in line with the eye test, which reveals that Anaheim's goals against per game of 5.25 has been far from unlucky.

Veteran defenders Kevin Shattenkirk and Dmitry Kulikov continue to look poor throughout five-on-five play, and I believe that it is going to be unlikely we see either of those guys able to play at even a replacement level this season.

Anthony Stolarz was realistically better than John Gibson last season, and he played well versus New Jersey, but I believe we will still see the Ducks go back to it's No. 1 option of Gibson tonight.

Gibson has played to a -3.8 goals saved above expected rating with an .872 save % this season.

It would be fair to say that his play has been somewhat better than those awful numbers suggest, and that those stats are being tanked by how horrible Anaheim's defensive play has been.

That being said, however, it has been a little while since Gibson has truly displayed the elite form that built his reputation.

Czechs Boosting Boston Bruins

Under new head coach Jim Montgomery, the Bruins have played a very high level of hockey in the early going this season, and it seems likely Boston will remain in strong positioning standings-wise as it awaits some big dogs returning to the lineup.

Boston's defensive structure fell apart versus Ottawa in Tuesday's 7-5 loss, but as I had speculated leading up to that contest, it was simply a massively favorable spot for Ottawa.

That was Boston's worst showing of the season, and it still managed to hang around and make it a competitive game on a night when everything was working in Ottawa's favor.

Prior to Tuesday's loss, the Bruins were 3-0-0, with each victory of the multi-goal variety, and a +8 goal differential.

Altogether the Bruins own an elite xGF% of 60.14, and that is not surprising because it's been clear that Boston is playing some high-level hockey.

The Bruins have scored at the league's highest rate with 5.25 goals for per game.

We know that mark will not hold, but it seems likely that offensively the Bruins will manage to get by without Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy for the time being, but could again be a sneaky Cup contender should they return in top form.

A big part of the Bruins surprising offensive dominance has been its all-Czech second line of Pavel Zacha, David Krejci and David Pastrnak, who gelled early in the preseason and have followed that up with a combined 16 points throughout four games.

Zacha has always held a lot of potential and was a high draft pick, and it seems that getting steady minutes between two countrymen has been the key to finally unlock that potential.

David Krejci has also not missed a beat while returning to the NHL at age 36, which has been a massive boost to the Bruins' second unit and first powerplay unit.

Realistically either of Boston's netminding options of Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark could start tonight and it would not surprise me, but the difference between the two seems irrelevant at this point.

Swayman got the start versus Ottawa and ultimately was never given a chance to succeed considering his team's off-night in front of the goal.  Maybe that means they go back to him tonight, and I'm fine with that if I'm betting the Bruins.

Ullmark has been strong throughout his first two games of the season, with a +1.5 GSAx and .927 save %, and Bruins backers are happy in that situation, as well.

Ducks vs Bruins Pick

It's likely the Ducks simply can't be this bad moving forward, but all indications are this team is in horrible form for the time being, and if you are looking at them tonight, to me it's simply on the narrative of being due.

Anaheim surely knows just how awful the level of its play has been in the early going this season, and the Ducks surely could be due to an extent to find another gear and tighten it up defensively. But that's still a scary angle to hang your hat on handicapping-wise, especially at the end of a long Eastern road swing.

Even hanging around in this game with a Bruins team that has played really well in the early going would realistically be progress for Anaheim form-wise, so with that in mind, I see value backing Boston to cover the puck line in this game.

Anaheim has lost by two or more in each contest of this road trip, and I actually believe losing by only two Tuesday against New Jersey was favorable to its overall play.

Boston can be had at -110 to keep Anaheim's streak of multi-goal losses alive again tonight, and I believe that is a strong play.

Pick:Boston Bruins -1.5 -110 (Play to -115)

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