NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Penguins vs. Bruins (Tuesday, Feb. 8)
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- The Penguins vs. Bruins line for Tuesday's night's game in Boston has held steady around -130 throughout the day Tuesday.
- Nicholas Martin is targeting the total in a meeting between two of the Eastern Conference's best teams and defenses.
- Get his full Pens vs. Bruins preview and pick below.
Penguins vs. Bruins Odds
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds updated Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. ET and via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
Two of the Eastern Conference’s best will go head-to-head Tuesday when the Bruins finally get reacquainted with the Penguins.
Will Boston’s spectacular defensive play be enough to keep the Penguins’ offense in what has been a surprising lull of late?
Bruins Are Led By Defense
The Bruins have been very much as expected so far this season, skating in similar form to what we have seen throughout much of Bruce Cassidy’s tenure. They again offer some excellent defensive structure, which in a ridiculously top-heavy Atlantic division has allowed them to hang with the likes of Florida, Tampa and Toronto.
They’re 11th in points percentage, which is solid, and particularly so when expected goals rates argue the Bruins are due for a slight uptick moving forward.
Boston’s excellent defensive play has allowed it to hold teams to just 2.77 goals for per game this season, a rate worsened by less-than-dominant play from new net-minder Linus Ullmark, but one which still appears due for positive regression based off of the analytics.
The Bruins hold a stellar defensive core filled with mobile puck-movers such as Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk, who have helped carry the club to a league-best xGA/60 of 1.93.
The concern continues to be a lack of offensive production outside of the top-3 upfront in Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. The Bruins’ 15th-ranked offensive production is a far cry from what other contending clubs have produced so far this season.
With Tuukka Rask landing on the IR, Boston has jumped at the chance to give Jeremy Swayman a rare start. Swayman has posted a +4.8 goals saved above expected rating with a .916 save % in 17 games played this season, building on a superb debut season last year.
Penguins Hope to Break Out of Lull
Pittsburgh reportedly ran a more up-tempo practice Monday in Boston, with coach Mike Sullivan looking to lead his group back into form coming out of the All-Star Break amid a four-game losing streak.
The Penguins have fallen into a surprising lull after a ridiculously dominant stretch throughout December and much of January, with some less-than-impressive outings against the Kraken, Red Wings and Kings.
The talent is certainly there, and Pittsburgh did put together a strong effort in a 4-3 overtime loss to Washington last time out in a game where the Caps were very opportunistic in front of goal. It would be wise to expect the Pens to find their form moving forward coming out of this break.
The Penguins have continued to produce well above average defensive play again this season, and that combined with some really strong form from Tristan Jarry in goal has the Pens allowing just the fourth most goals against per game in the league.
Over their last five contests, however, the Pens have fallen into an offensive lull, generating just 1.77 xGF/60, but have hung around by holding teams to 1.90 xGA/60.
Surely those rates are likely to rise, but the Pens haven’t been playing their normal high-flying brand of hockey of late, and it’s hard to imagine too much of an uptick playing against a very structured Boston team.
Jarry should draw the start here and has been very strong this season with a +13.6 GSAx rating and a .923 save % throughout 37 games played.
The Bruins continue to be one of the league’s best defensive clubs, and playing a desperate Penguins team with an abundance of offensive talent, one would expect them to be at the top of their game. The Penguins are no slouches defensively themselves, however, and that’s why the target here is the total.
This contest could have opened at 5.5 and I would still not mind backing the under, but with the number 6 available at -120 at the time of writing I see a lot of value here backing a low-scoring contest, and we get a little added value with the confirmation of Swayman in goal for the Bruins instead of Ullmark.
I would play the under 6 down to -140, and I do imagine we could see the line move closer to puck-drop.
Pick: Under 6 -115
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