Boston Bruins v. Tampa Bay Lightning (@TD Garden; Boston, MA)
With the season winding down quickly and the playoff race in full effect the Bruins have answered the call pulling off 5 straight wins and letting up an impressive (1.20 GA/G) while averaging (3.20 GF/G) in that stretch. With the Biggest game of the season on their schedule tonight they could solidify their second spot in the wild card tonight by making the point gap between themselves and the Lightning 6 points which would leave Tampa 6 points out with 3 games left (only a tie would be possible with Boston). Tampa is a mediocre road team (17-15-6 road record) and have ridden on the back of Kucherov to help their playoff hopes even exist. This game will host a playoff atmosphere in a what is sure to be absolutely wild TD Garden lined with Bruins fans. I see a tenured Bruins team toppling over Vasilevskiy and the Lightning and Rask (expected to start) has allowed just three goals in his last three games, all of them wins, and has stopped 75 of 78 shots for a .962 save percentage.
PICK: Boston Bruins to win in regulation. (-105)
Ottawa Senators v. Boston Bruins (@TD Garden; Boston, MA)
Being able to target the Senators in regulation with a line as incredible as this one (+215) v. a team on a back-to-back using the SAME goalie as they did last night is a great position. Both teams haven’t been playing well, Boston has dropped their last 2 while being 6-4-0 in their last 10 while Ottawa has been 6-2-2 in their last tine while dropping their last 4 in a row. Despite that small piece, Ottawa has been great away this year (5th best in NHL and have more road wins – 20 – compared to home – 19-). After watching the Bruins struggle to score v. Toronto last night, I doubt they’ll have an easier time putting up numbers against a much better Ottawa defense that is known to play the trap when they get a lead. Boston will have to travel from Toronto and be ready to play tonight while Ottawa is looking at this great opportunity to distance themselves from Boston while putting themselves within 2 points of Montreal’s number 1 spot in the Atlantic Division. And now the goaltending match-up – Rask is 3-4-0 with a 2.68 GAA and .904 SV% in March. The 30-year-old is 0-2-0 with a 3.07 GAA and .889 SV% in his first two starts against Ottawa. (via. Joe Haggerty – CSN). Anderson for Ottawa has gone 2-0-0 with a 1.50 GAA and .936 SV% in two starts vs. Boston this season (via. Bruce Garrioch – TSN).
PICK: Ottawa Senators win in regulation. (+215)
*POTENTIAL LATER WRITE UP DEPENDING ON GOALTENDING MATCH-UP IN WILD/SHARKS GAME*
After a brief St. Patty’s Day absence, lets get back on track.
Toronto Maple Leafs v. Boston Bruins (@ Air Canada Centre; Toronto, Canada)
After looking at this slate tonight there is no doubt that this will be the best game tonight, with the Bruins a game in hand and 3 points up on the Maple Leafs both teams will be scratching and clawing at points in these last 11 or 12 games. The Leafs have not made the playoffs since 2013 and sit in the 2nd wild card spot to the Rangers, however this game plays a huge swing for them as they could steal 2 potential points from the Bruins while adding to their point total as well overall leading to a 4 point swing for either side tonight with how the playoff picture is looking. What’s interesting about this fixture is the goaltending matchup. Frederik Andersen has gone 4-1-2 with a 1.99 GAA and .940 SV% in seven March starts and tonight he faces the Bruins for the fourth time—he is 3-0-0 with a 2.33 GAA and .929 SV% in the first three (via. CSN’s Joe Haggerty). Rask was pulled after he allowed five goals on 17 shots in the Bruins’ loss in Edmonton last Thursday. Despite the rough loss, Rask is expected to start both games of the Bruins’ key back-to-back on Monday and Tuesday. Rask is 0-1-0 with a 4.69 GAA And .788 SV% in two starts against the Maple Leafs this season (via. TSN’s Mark Masters). In the tendency of streakiness when it comes to goaltending, this is a great target match-up for a great line with a home team in need of a win and the playoffs on the line.
PICK: Toronto Maple Leafs to win (Even)