Home » Blog » NHL Preview (Mar. 21)

NHL Preview (Mar. 21)

Winning – or rather, not losing – is the talk of the NHL town this season. First Chicago ran up a 24-game stint in which the side was unbeaten in regulation. More recently, Anaheim has recorded a 12-game streak in which the side has not lost in regulation, while Pittsburgh ran its win streak up to 10 games with a 2-1 win over Washington on Tuesday.

Whilst these streaks, and the bragging rights that come along with them, are undoubtedly impressive, there are a number of teams making a huge impact without the fanfare. Two of these sides going quietly about their business are Boston and Ottawa, who meet on Thursday night.

Read on for the BettingSports.com preview of Thursday’s NHL action, starting with this absolute corker of a divisional game north of the border.

Boston Bruins at Ottawa Senators

Boston will look to close the gap at the top of the Eastern Conference with a win over division rival, Ottawa.

Boston will look to close the gap at the top of the Eastern Conference with a win over division rival Ottawa.

While Pittsburgh’s 10-game winning streak may be grabbing all of the headlines, Boston (19-6-3, 9-4-2 road) is within striking distance of the Penguins at the top of the Eastern Conference.

The Bruins currently trail Pittsburgh by five points and Northeast Division-leading Montreal by just two points. That could all change Thursday night.

For the Bruins to gain ground on both the Penguins and Canadiens, the team will need to improve its road form. The side has lost three straight away from TD Garden and four of the last five. In fact, that one win was a less than decisive shootout victory over the Senators on Mar. 11.

As chance would have it, Boston will face Ottawa (16-8-6, 10-1-3 home) on Thursday evening.

The Senators themselves are just three points back of Boston in the Northeast Division and will be looking to continue an impressive run of form of late. The side has won three straight, erasing a streak of six losses from seven games.

Ottawa also happens to be one of the NHL’s best home teams. The side has won five of the last six at Scotiabank Place. That one loss was that same 3-2 shootout game against Boston earlier this month. The Senator’s only home loss in regulation this season came back on Feb. 9 against the Winnipeg Jets.

In addition to the shootout win on Mar. 11, the Bruins also defeated the Senators 2-1 in overtime on Feb. 28 in Boston. The Bruins also took five of six games from Ottawa last season.

This head-to-head form has been heeded by bookmakers and the moneyline has Boston (-147) heading into the game as favorites over Ottawa (+134). Bettors might want to consider backing the underdog ahead of this one.

Ottawa however is the favorite to cover the spread (+1.5) while the total (5) is expected to go over. However, these two sides both rank in the top three in goals allowed, so don’t expect this to be a high-scoring affair. Meanwhile, Boston is No. 1 in penalty killing (92.2%) and Ottawa is No. 2 (88.4%), so easy goals will be at a premium.

Vancouver Canucks at Phoenix Coyotes

Phoenix handed the Canucks a 4-2 defeat in Vancouver earlier this season.

Phoenix handed the Canucks a 4-2 defeat in Vancouver earlier this season.

Favorite to win the Western Conference ahead of the season, Vancouver (14-9-6, 6-4-3 road) hasn’t exactly had the season most expected.

The Canucks’ almost indifferent form this season has the side some 17 points behind conference-leading Chicago. Still, the side is within two points of Minnesota at the top of the Northwest Division and a No. 3 playoff berth.

On Thursday night, Vancouver will look to string together a second straight win having beaten St. Louis on Tuesday night.

Phoenix (13-13-4, 10-5-1 home) is returning from a four loss road trip in which the best the side could muster was a 1-0 shootout loss in Columbus. The Coyotes will be glad to return to the intimate confines of Jobing.com Arena, where the side has won four of the least five games.

Currently two points back of San Jose in the No. 8 playoff berth, Phoenix is in need of wins to remain in the hunt. The team can look back on a 4-2 win in Vancouver back on Feb. 26 for added motivation if necessary.

The two sides split a four-game series last season, with each team winning once at home (by shootout) and once on the road.

The moneyline has Vancouver (-116) favorite to take the win over Phoenix (+105), although Phoenix is favored to cover the spread (5). The total (5) is expected to go over.

Around the League

Montreal (19-5-5, 10-2-2 road) will look to keep Boston at arm’s length while gaining its own ground on Pittsburgh Thursday night, as the side makes the trip to Long Island. The New York Islanders (13-13-3, 5-9-2 home) continue to remain on the fringe of the playoff picture but losses at this stage will seriously hinder the side’s chances. Bookmakers have the Canadiens (-121) over the Islanders (+110) in this one.

Los Angeles (17-10-2, 12-2-1 home) appear to have gotten over any early season jitters and now look to be making a concerted push for the upper playoff seeds. The Kings will face Dallas (13-13-3, 7-7-1 road) on Thursday. The Stars have been thoroughly inconsistent this season and are in danger of falling out of the playoff hunt. The Kings (-186) are favored over the Stars (+169) in this one.

Thursday’s NHL Schedule (in full)

Toronto at Buffalo

Montreal at NY Islanders

Florida at NY Rangers

New Jersey at Carolina

Boston at Ottawa

Washington at Winnipeg

Calgary at Nashville

Vancouver at Phoenix

Dallas at Los Angeles

For the latest odds on each of these games, check out the BettingSports.com NHL Odds page.

  • 100%