It is a matchup of Stanley Cup contenders on Thursday night on NBCSN, as the Pittsburgh Penguins visit the Boston Bruins. The Penguins are two-time defending champions, while the Bruins have the third-best record in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins will be home favorites in this contest, and the price might be higher than expected if Pittsburgh goaltender Matt Murray remains out. Let’s look at the game and NHL picks.
At 7 p.m. ET, tune into NBCSN for live television coverage of this NHL game on Thursday, March 1, 2018 at TD Garden.
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The Penguins could be without goaltender Matt Murray on Thursday. He was diagnosed with a concussion after taking a shot to the head in practice on Monday. Murray has had to deal with a lot this season, as he missed time due to the death of his father and he missed time due to a lower-body injury. It remains to be seen how much time he will miss due to this concussion. Murray is 23-13-2 this season with a 2.82 goals-against average and .909 save percentage. The Penguins are not in that great a shape behind Murray. Tristan Jarry played well early in the season, but he had been sent down to the AHL recently after some bad outings. Casey DeSmith has played pretty well, but he is very inexperienced, with just a handful of NHL starts.
Pittsburgh has not been a good road team, with a record of 13-19 away from home, with 16 games going over the total, 15 going under, with one push. They are scoring 3.2 goals per game and giving up 2.9 per contest.
The Bruins made a number of trade deadline deals, adding Rick Nash, Nick Holden, Brian Gionta and Tommy Wingels. The question is whether or not the deals will help Boston. Nash is the big name, but he is not the player he once was and even when he was really good he never did anything in the playoffs. Nash may be an upgrade from Ryan Spooner, but not a huge one.
Boston was 19-11 in their first 30 home games, with 13 going over the total and 17 going under. They are scoring 3.2 goals per game and giving up about 2.5 per contest.
The Penguins normally have an edge in special teams but that edge may not be much on Thursday night. Pittsburgh is first on the power play but Boston is the fourth best team in penalty killing. Boston is just 17th on the power play, while Pittsburgh is 7th in penalty killing.
These teams have played twice this season with each team winning at home. The Penguins won by a score of 6-5 in early January, while the Bruins won 4-3 in late November. Boston has won 7 of the last 10 overall in the series, with the last seven going over. The Bruins have also won 8 of the last 10 at home in this series.
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I think a couple of plays are warranted in this game on Thursday. The Penguins have been a poor road team all season, while the Bruins have been solid at home. I also think Boston has the edge in goal if Murray doesn’t play and concussions usually take some time to get over, so I don’t think Murray will play. I will lay the price and take the Bruins in this contest. I also can’t ignore the very strong trends on the total. The last seven meetings in this series have all gone over the total and with Murray likely out, there is a good chance that trend continues. I will also take the game over the total.
NHL Odds: Bruins 5, Penguins 3
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