Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Boston Bruins Preview
Where: TD Garden – Boston, MA
When: Thursday, March 23, 2017, 7:00 PM ET
Writer’s Pick: Boston Bruins (-200)
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Betting on the Tampa Bay Lightning (38-29-6, 82 pts)
The Tampa Bay Lightning’s playoff hopes have taken a massive hit no thanks to their recent three-game skid. They are now five points back of Boston for the second wild card spot in the East. The Lightning have conceded five goals in each of their recent losses to the Maple Leafs, Capitals, and Coyotes, with goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy giving up four goals in all three games.
Vasilevskiy gave up three goals his lone meeting with the Boston Bruins this season back in November, as the Lightning eventually lost 4-3 in a shootout. However, there’s a good chance Lightning coach Jon Cooper will turn to backup goalie Peter Budaj to make his regularly scheduled start against the Bruins.
Budaj (28-21-3, 2.15 GAA, .916 save percentage) had been having a very good season prior to getting traded from Los Angeles to Tampa Bay for Ben Bishop. He is 1-1 in two starts since coming over to the Lightning, with a 3.0 GAA and a .903 save percentage. He went winless in two meetings against the Bruins this season during his time with the Kings. He performed reasonably well in both games, though, as he made a combined 50 out of 53 saves.
The Lightning have been pretty successful on their travels recently. They’ve won their last three road games in a row and four of their last five.
Betting on the Boston Bruins (34-29-9, 77 pts)
The Boston Bruins are similarly on a three-game losing skid after going 12-3-0 in their previous 15 games. Goalie Tuukka Rask started and took the loss in all three games for the Bruins, as his form has continued to be very uneven.
Rask was chased away with five goals on 17 shots by the Edmonton Oilers in a 7-4 Bruins defeat. He also gave up three goals – two of which went straight through his five-hole – on 22 shots against the Ottawa Senators in a 3-2 loss. Rask’s save percentage for the season is now .911, the lowest in his career.
It remains to be seen whether Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy will opt to give his No. 1 goalie a break against Tampa Bay even though Rask has a solid record against the Lightning. He’s a perfect 3-0 against them this season, with a 2.27 GAA and .915 save percentage.
The Bruins will also be at home, where they have historically had a tremendous advantage over the Lightning. Boston is a terrific 16-4 in its last 20 games hosting Tampa Bay.
The Bruins (-200) continue their domination of the Lightning on home ice as they get the 3-2 win.
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