NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Oilers vs. Bruins (Dec. 9)
Codie McLachlan/Getty Images. Pictured: Leon Draisaitl
- The Bruins are home underdogs against the Oilers on Thursday night.
- Both teams are looking to snap losing streaks in this matchup.
- Nicholas Martin breaks down the game and gives his top pick below.
Oilers vs. Bruins Odds
|Time||9 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
The Edmonton Oilers will look to snap their season-high three-game losing streak in a favorable scheduling spot against the Boston Bruins on Thursday night.
Not only are the Bruins playing in Vancouver on Wednesday night, but Boston has been battling some lineup issues with head coach Bruce Cassidy out with Covid and a few other players questionable with a non-Covid illness.
Can Edmonton Overcome Defensive Woes
Perhaps the biggest question heading into this matchup is whether or not the Oilers’ dynamic offense can carry play and generate chances to provide cover for their shaky defensive unit.
Altogether the Oilers simply do not hold that much talent on the blueline compared to other elite teams, and I know that comment is likely to irk some, but it would take a lot of convincing for me to believe that a second pair featuring Duncan Keith and Cody Ceci puts the Oilers on par with other Cup Contenders.
Despite my reservations about Keith and Ceci’s ability as a second-pairing, their collective absence has seemingly left the team worse for wear as Edmonton has lost three games in a row while allowing 13 goals.
Edmonton has allowed 3.94 goals above expected over those three games, and the Oilers’ uninspired play against the Kings looked worse than it was thanks to a few garbage-time goals after Connor McDavid was ejected for boarding.
The Oilers will have a better chance to clean up their defensive issues on Thursday as the Bruins have struggled to generate consistent offense at 5-on-5 this season. Edmonton may be thin on defense, but I don’t think Ceci and Keith are as big an absence as the recent results make it seem as their replacements aren’t a huge drop-off.
Additionally, I’d expect the Oilers’ league-leading power play to find its form soon. It was never going to stay at the 50% conversion rate that it posted over the first few weeks of the season, but it also won’t stay cold forever.
It is unclear who Dave Tippett will tab to start in goal, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes with Stuart Skinner, since he hasn’t played since Friday. Skinner has a +1.3 Goals Saved Above Expected and a .921 save percentage in seven games this season.
The Same Ol’ Bruins
It’s a new year, but things appear very much the same for the Boston Bruins, and every time I cover this team the story seems to remain the same.
The tremendously mobile defensive unit allows the team a good chance to control play every shift, but there is a lack of scoring ability at 5-on-5 behind Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, aka “The Perfection Line.”
With Jake Debrusk struggling, Nick Foligno failing to move the needle much at all when healthy, a slow start for Craig Smith and Taylor Hall not dominating, the Bruins are not skating an overly intimidating offensive unit and will look to add some scoring touch before the playoffs.
The team has allowed the league’s second-fewest high-danger chances against overall and their xGA/60 of 1.99 paces the league, so their strong commitment to team defense has helped makeup for this weakness.
Yet they haven’t seen the same goaltending once seen from Tuukka Rask, who did practice with the team this week, from Linus Ullmark, who will draw the start tomorrow night with Jeremy Swayman confirmed for Wednesday’s contest against Vancouver.
Ullmark has posted a -3.8 GSAx with a .911 save % throughout 12 games this season.
Oilers vs. Bruins Pick
In a move which continues to work (at least for significant closing line value), I am hustling to get this play out while some sportsbooks are still offering prices close to pick ’em here, and trading in a little info from tonight’s game for a line that I am going to like either way.
That line being the Edmonton Oilers to win, as I think we are going to see a very urgent effort to get the season back on track, led by some big nights from McDavid and Draisaitl.
While I certainly don’t like the Oilers defense core overall, and feel it is a notable disadvantage compared to Boston’s, they are catching them in a good spot and I think they can manage in this game against the Bruins thin bottom lines.
Boston will likely be short some combination of Charlie Coyle, Tomas Nosek, and Matt Grzelcyk, as it seems some sort of illness is going around the group. On top of that, David Pastrnak, Taylor Hall, Craig Smith, Nick Foligno and Derek Forbort all missed Wednesday’s morning skate.
Ultimately most of these guys could play, but even so I would happily live with the Oilers at -130 or better at that point, but if several end up missing tonight’s contest in Vancouver, and then likely tomorrow, we are going to see a significantly worse line here.
If you’re going to play the Oilers, you may want to act quickly, but if you want to back the Bruins’ significantly stronger defensive play, waiting for more information and possibly better lines makes the most sense.
Pick: Edmonton Oilers -130 or better