NHL -- Showdown Between Eastern Conference’s Top Teams
Lightning and Bruins Have Talent to Win Stanley Cup
Tonight, hockey fans will get a preview of what is likely to be a late-round Eastern Conference matchup in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins have been two of the most consistent teams all year. That consistency has put them atop the Eastern Conference. These two clubs are truly the cream of the crop in the East.
TV: 7:30 p.m. NBC Sports Network, Sportsnet One, Sportsnet East, Sportsnet Ontario, TVA; LINE:
The Boston Bruins have been on a roll of late. They’ve collected at least one point in each of their last 14 games and have won eight of their last nine matchups. Tukka Rask has been all-world over that stretch and they’ve surrendered just five goals in their last three games. He’s now up to an impressive .920 save percentage and 2.40 goals against average. It won’t be easy going up against a potent Lightning lineup. Tampa Bay enters Thursday’s matchup in first place in the NHL. It’s hard to believe how good Jon Cooper’s group has been this season as they’ve already eclipsed the 100-point mark. Nikita Kucherov is sure to be at the center of the action on Thursday.
The Bruins sit 19 points behind Tampa Bay in the Atlantic Division, but are just one ahead of Toronto for second place and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Tampa Bay set a franchise record on Wednesday with its 10th straight victory as it coughed up a two-goal lead. Then defenseman Victor Hedman scored in overtime for a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers as it matched Boston's 14-game point streak (12-0-2), all this month. Nikita Kucherov set up Hedman's game-winner for his third assist of the contest and league-leading 104th point of the season for the Lightning, who can reach 50 wins on Thursday.
This, Than, and a Dart Throw
The Lightning are 49-11-4 on the season. Kucherov is four points shy of matching the franchise single-season record set in 2006-07 by Vincent Lecavalier. Brayden Point reached 80 for the first time in his career on Wednesday with an assist. Captain Steven Stamkos added a pair of assists in the win, giving him 16 of his 77 points in his last 10 games. J.T. Miller has scored in three of his last four contests. Andrei Vasilevskiy recorded his 29th win on Wednesday. He is 9-0-2 with a .950 save percentage in February. Backup Louis Domingue has won a franchise-best 11 straight starts. The Lightning were 6-for-6 on the penalty kill during Wednesday's win. They are 25-for-25 over their last seven contests.
The Bruins are 37-17-9 on the season. Brad Marchand has picked up his production level in David Pastrnak's absence. He has collected 17 of his team-high 74 points in the last 11 contests. He scored one goal and set up two others on Tuesday. Krejci also has been a major factor during Boston's 14-game run. He has registered five goals and 10 assists over the last 12 contests to push his season total to 55 points. Marcus Johansson notched an assist in his team debut on Tuesday.
PREDICTION: Bruins 3, Lightning 2
NHL Betting Odds & Trends
|Tampa Bay Lightning|
|Tampa Bay is 6-3 ATS in its last 9 games|
|Tampa Bay is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games|
|Tampa Bay is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games on the road|
|The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Tampa Bay's last 9 games on the road|
|Tampa Bay is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games when playing Boston|
|Tampa Bay is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games when playing Boston|
|Tampa Bay is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games when playing on the road against Boston|
|Tampa Bay is 5-15 SU in its last 20 games when playing on the road against Boston|
|Boston is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games|
|Boston is 8-1 SU in its last 9 games|
|The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Boston's last 6 games|
|Boston is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games at home|
|The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Boston's last 6 games at home|
|Boston is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games when playing Tampa Bay|
|Boston is 0-5 SU in its last 5 games when playing Tampa Bay|
|Boston is 2-4 ATS in its last 6 games when playing at home against Tampa Bay|
|Boston is 15-5 SU in its last 20 games when playing at home against Tampa Bay|
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