Date/Time: March 12, 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: NHL Network
NHL Betting Odds From BetOnline Sportsbook
Moneyline: Boston -115
The Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins are in similar situational spots on Thursday night. Coming off of big victories on Tuesday night, it’s a letdown spot for both teams on NHL Network in this Eastern Conference battle. The Lightning pulled off a 1-0 overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens to inch closer to the top spot in the Atlantic Division. The Bruins won as a road favorite at Ottawa to pick up two huge points in their quest to hold off Florida and Ottawa for the final playoff spot in the division. Early money has come in on the Lightning, who are a slight road underdog as of Wednesday evening.
For Tampa Bay, their win in Montreal was huge. The Lightning are 26-6-1 at home, but just 16-14-5 on the road this season. They have the conference’s best goal differential because of how dominant they have been at home. Nobody has more regulation or overtime wins in the Eastern Conference than Tampa Bay with 40. They’ve now won four straight and seven of their last 10. That’s three straight over the Canadiens this season and it’s the start of a tough stretch with games against Boston twice, Detroit, Montreal twice, and Nashville. It’s a good time to see what the Lightning are made of.
Tampa Bay is one of the league’s scoring teams at even strength and their 3.3 goals per game rank first in the NHL. A big reason for that has been the play of their top six forwards. Tyler Johnson has 65 points in 66 games, while Steven Stamkos has 36 goals and 25 assists in his 68 games. Nikita Kucherov is a +34 with his 56 points and three other forwards have at least 45 points on the season. Ben Bishop has been very good in net with a 33-11-3 record, a 2.34 GAA and a .914 SV%. Backup Andrei Vasilevskiy is a great safety net and the Lightning are in excellent shape for a playoff run.
The Boston Bruins really struggle to score goals, but they are still stingy defensively and that’s why they’re in a position to make the playoffs for the eighth straight season. Both special teams units are a little bit above average, but the Bruins are eighth in goals allowed per game. They are 4-0-1 over their last five, so, like most good teams, the Bruins are hitting their stride at the right time. They have a very tough stretch over the next four days with games against Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, and Washington, so that adds some extra importance to this home game.
Patrice Bergeron is the only Bruins forward to crack the 40-point plateau so far this season, though seven other Bruins have chipped in at least 32 points. Brad Marchand’s 22 goals lead the way, but there’s no true star on this roster. Even Zdeno Chara seems to have taken a step back this season, in part due to the MCL injury he suffered early in the season. Tuukka Rask has seen a lot of shots this season en route to his 27-16-10 record with a 2.31 GAA and a .922 SV%. David Krejci is nearing a return from a partially torn MCL and he will add instant offense to the team if healthy.
Free NHL Picks: Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning are rolling right now and Boston’s inconsistency is too much to ignore. The Bolts are better equipped for a turnaround like this and have so much more offensive skill than Boston. The Bruins are going to struggle against teams that can dominate the puck possession game and that’s what Tampa Bay should have success with on Thursday night.
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Adam Burke is a freelance writer and amateur handicapper with a knack for finding value through matchup analysis and a deep understanding of the sports betting market. His main area of expertise is baseball, with a background in sabermetrics and advanced statistics. He is the host of The Gridiron Gambling Report and our college football and college basketball BangTheBook.com podcasts on the BlogTalkRadio Network.