Monday’s NHL action features a pair of division foes whose seasons have trended in opposite directions. The Boston Bruins (20-4-6, 1st Atlantic) head to the Canadian capital to battle the Ottawa Senators (12-17-1, 7th Atlantic).
Here is a preview for tonight’s game between the Bruins and Senators, along with odds and a free pick.
By the Numbers
We’ll start with the Bruins, who are firmly in the driver’s seat in the Atlantic after a recent 13-game point streak. Boston is fifth in goals per game with 3.5 on the fourth-best shooting percentage in the league. They also have a dynamic power play, one that converts a third-best 28.4 percent of the time when on the man advantage.
They’ve also been among the best at preventing goals. The Bruins allow the second-fewest goals per game as well at 2.3, thanks in large to some elite goaltending. They allow 31.3 shots per game, 13th in the league, but also have the sixth-best penalty kill at 84.6 percent.
For the Senators, they have improved on last year’s league-worst record, but are currently scuffling, losing six of their last seven. Currently Ottawa ranks 23rd in goals scored per game with 2.63. They’re also 22nd in shots on goal with 30.2 and 23rd in shooting percentage with 8.7 percent. The Sens also have the league’s worst power play, coming in at just 9.6 percent.
Ottawa is around the same defensively as they are on offense, coming in at 21st in goals allowed per game with 3.13. They’re also 20th in shots allowed, but fairly close to the Bruins at 31.9. And the penalty kill unit has found more success than the power play, killing penalties 82.6 percent of the time, good for 12th in the league.
Who to Watch
For the Bruins, two All-Stars not only lead the charge but are also among the league leaders in scoring. David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand are the two main players to watch for Boston tonight and in general. Pastrnak leads the NHL with 25 goals, five more than the next-highest player, and is fifth in the league with 43 points. Meanwhile, Marchand leads the team and is fourth in the league in points with 44, 26 of which have come via assist, where he is also fifth-best. Boston may also be getting back the third and final piece of that dynamic first line. Center Patrice Bergeron has missed the last seven games with a lower-body, but there is a chance he suits up tonight against the Senators.
And speaking of the Senators, they have had a couple of breakout players this season of their own. Center Jean-Gabriel Pageau has a team-high 15 goals and 22 points in his eighth season with Ottawa. Thanks to some strong two-play play, Pageau is also tied for second in the NHL in plus-minus, coming in at an incredible +19. Young wingers Anthony Duclair and Brady Tkachuk are also off to good campaigns thus far. Duclair is up to 13 goals including two in Ottawa’s last game, while Tkachuk also scored in the game for his 10th tally of the season.
The Bruins are expected to go with their incumbent starter Tuukka Rask. Rask has put himself in the Vezina conversation this season, going 13-2-3 with a 2.14 GAA and .929 save percentage.
The Senators will likely send Anders Nilsson out to guard their net tonight. The veteran Nilsson is 7-8-1 with a 3.10 GAA and .910 save percentage in his second season with Ottawa.
Odds and Pick
To no surprise, the Bruins are big favorites tonight, listed at -185. Realistically, this game shouldn’t be close. The Bruins are superior all around, especially when you compare their elite penalty kill to Ottawa’s league-worst power play. The Senators would need to take advantage of Boston’s mistakes to have a chance tonight, but that doesn’t seem very likely. So I’m rolling with the Bruins -185 to grab the win for tonight’s game.