NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Panthers vs. Bruins (December 19)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Panthers vs. Bruins (December 19) article feature image

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images. Pictured: Linus Ullmark.

  • The Florida Panthers hit the road to face the Boston Bruins on Monday night.
  • All signs point toward a Boston win, but is more betting value elsewhere on the board?
  • Carol Schram previews the game and offers up her best bet below.

Panthers vs. Bruins Odds

Panthers Odds+168
Bruins Odds-205
Over/Under6.5 (-102 / -120)
Time7 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The NHL's top team from the 2021-22 season will go head-to-head with its heir apparent when the Florida Panthers visit the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Monday.

The Bruins sit atop the NHL standings with a 24-4-2 record and are undefeated in regulation on home ice (16-0-2). Meanwhile, the Panthers are striving to stay within reach of a wild-card spot. They're coming off a 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night.

Here's the latest on both teams, and your best bet for the game.

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Florida Panthers

Though they were coming off their best regular season in franchise history, the Panthers underwent a significant overhaul last summer, including the acquisition of Matthew Tkachuk and the hiring of head coach Paul Maurice.

So far, the results have been mixed. Their control of play at 5-on-5 is terrific, with an expected goals share of 54.64%, but special teams haven't been great. The penalty kill is middling and the power play ranks in the bottom five in the league — although Sam Reinhart snapped a five-game team drought against the Devils on Saturday.

In net, Sergei Bobrovsky has been carrying the load for the past couple of weeks. He has played arguably his best hockey of the year in his past three starts, allowing just five total goals and picking up his first shutout of the season against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Bobrovsky has now worked himself up to 0.2 goals saved above expected.

Spencer Knight has better numbers and had become the Panthers' go-to stopper before he fell ill in early December. He returned to the lineup against Pittsburgh last Thursday, but has not yet seen any game action.

As of Sunday afternoon, it's not yet clear which netminder will get the start in Boston.

The Panthers also added another name to their injured list on Saturday, when captain Aleksander Barkov suffered a lower-body injury on a face-off play against Nico Hischier. There's no status update as of Sunday afternoon, but Barkov did not play beyond the first period against the Devils.

Other injured Panthers include defenseman Radko Gudas, who's recovering from a concussion, and forwards Patric Hornqvist, Anton Lundell, Chris Tierney and Colin White.

Boston Bruins

A lot of teams, including the Panthers, have busy schedules with lots of travel leading into next weekend's Christmas break.

Meanwhile, the Bruins are in the middle of a comfortable five-game homestand and are 2-0-1 so far. They're third in expected goals share at 5-on-5 at 56.37%, first in goals against (2.13) and on the penalty kill (84.6%), second in goals for (3.80) and third on the power play (29%).

Linus Ullmark has been carrying most of the load in net, and is tied for second in the league at 15.7 goals saved above expected. He got Saturday night off as Jeremy Swayman backstopped the Bruins to a 4-2 win over Columbus, so Ullmark will likely draw back in against the Panthers.

After starting the season with key players like Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy on the injured list, Boston is now basically healthy. Veteran forward Craig Smith was placed on waivers on Sunday. The 33-year-old played 17 games this year, collected four points and is in the final season of a three-year contract.

Panthers vs. Bruins Pick

At -176, the oddsmakers are effectively giving Boston a 63.77% chance of victory on Monday night. Given the Bruins' impeccable results this season, especially on home ice, and Florida's potential loss of Barkov, it's hard to make a different argument.

Of course, that's not great news for bettors. Are you content to settle for a potential moneyline win of $5.68 off a $10 bet?

If there's a crack in the armor, perhaps it lies in the fact that the Bruins' two home-ice shootout losses have come in their past four games — and they also had a shootout win in that stretch, over the Islanders. Boston isn't blowing opponents out of the water lately, and the Panthers are getting good goaltending themselves.

An Under of 6.5 is offering a return close to even money. Three of Boston's past four games have gone under that number, as have five of the past six for Florida.

Fireworks are more fun, but a workmanlike, low-scoring outcome offers the bet value for bettors.

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