A busy Hockey Day in America on Sunday includes a late game on NBCSN as the Boston Bruins visit the San Jose Sharks. The Bruins have played well under new head coach Bruce Cassidy winning three straight, but this is not a good spot for Boston as they are coming off their bye week, and teams this season have struggled in their first game after the bye. On the other side, the Sharks are in the second half of a back-to-back as they were at Arizona on Saturday.
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The Bruins are going to be road underdogs in this one and for good reason. As noted earlier, NHL teams have just been awful this season in the first game after their bye week. The NHL instituted the bye week this season and players love it but coaches have had a difficult time getting their team ready for the first game back. The Bruins are 14-16 on the road this season with 13 games going over the total, 14 going under with 3 pushes.
The Sharks are 18-10 at home this season and while that sounds good, they have not played nearly as well lately. They have lost three of their last four games at home including 6-5 in overtime to Florida on Wednesday in a game they were lucky to get a point in.
The Sharks have not been nearly as good defensively lately and they have suffered because of the poor defense. Center Logan Couture said the team simply has to be better in support. “We gave up too much,” Sharks center Logan Couture said about the loss to Florida. “They’re a team that feeds off of turnovers. In that first period, three turnovers by us, and three basically tap-ins for them and (Martin) Jones didn’t have a chance on any of them. That’s on us. Whether that’s the forwards or the D-men, we’ve got to be a lot tighter defensively.”
The Bruins are 14th in the league on the power play at 20.1% and they are 17th in goals per game at 2.7 per contest. They are 1st in the league in penalty killing at 86.3%. Boston is allowing 2.6 goals per game which is 11th in the league.
The Bruins have looked more potent on offense under Cassidy as they have scored 14 goals in their last three games. Whether that improved scoring will continue with the team coming out of the bye is in question.
San Jose is 22nd in the league on the power play at 16.8% and they are 15th in goals per game and 2.7 per contest. The Sharks are just 17th in penalty killing at 81.5% and they are 3rd in the league, allowing 2.4 goals per game.
The Bruins rely heavily on Tuukka Rask who has started 46 games this season. He is 27-17 with a 2.27 goals against average. The backup is Anton Khudobin who is 2-6 with a 3.05 goals against average.
The Sharks are in a similar spot as they give Martin Jones almost every start. He is 28-20 with a 2.35 goals against average. Backup Aaron Dell is 6-4 with a 2.05 goals against average.
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San Jose has won six of the last ten in this series but it was Boston winning 6-3 at home earlier this month. Four of the last five in the series have gone over the total. San Jose has won three of the last four at home in this series with six of the last seven going under the total.
I will make two plays in this one and take San Jose and the game over the total.
NHL Odds: Sharks 4, Bruins 3
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