The Boston Bruins (14-8-2, 30 pts) welcome the Vegas Golden Knights (16-11-0, 32 pts) to TD Garden Tuesday night (7:05 PM ET, NESN, ATTSM-RM, SN1)
Both the Bruins and Knights come into this game in the eighth playoff slot in each of their respective conferences. They’ve also had similar paths to this point of the season, battling injuries, COVID, and some players they were counting on, underachieving. Over their last ten games though, each team has begun to find its stride. The Bruins roll into tonight’s game on a five-game point streak (3-0-2) and are 5-3-2 in their last ten games. The Knights meanwhile, are 4-1-0 in their last five games and 6-4-0 in their last ten.
However, while both teams might be coming in on similar rolls, the Boston Bruins will have to try and continue their recent success without the services of wingers Brad Marchand and Craig Smith. As expected, one day after the team the Boston Bruins played last (on Saturday), was shut down due to COVID, the Bruins now have two key players in COVID protocol and will be without wingers Brad Marchand and Craig Smith. Both players entered the protocol on Tuesday morning and will miss the game tonight. Later in the day, the Bruins recalled forward Oskar Steen and Jack Studnicka.
This is the fourth game Marchand has missed this season after being suspended for the first three games in December and Smith has now missed four as well, after missing three with an upper-body injury earlier this season.
The Boston Bruins are -130 and the Vegas Golden Knights are +110 on the money line. You can also bet the Bruins -1.5 at +175 and the Knights +1.5 at -210. You can bet the B’s at +115 to win in regulation, the Knights at +165, and then the game to go to overtime at +290.
If you’ve watched or listened to The Ice Guys – a daily NHL handicapping podcast I host with Ian Cameron, Alex B. Smith, and Andrew McInnis – this season though, you would know that if you’re betting a game involving the Knights, you need to delve deeper and look at the first period over. Thanks to the assist from @psuotto for tracking the period-by-period over stats as well. As you will see, 17 of the Knights’ 27 games played this season have gone over 1.5 this season. Nine of 24 Bruins games have done the same.
Over 1.5 Goals, 1P Goal in 1st 10 & Goal Totals by Period pic.twitter.com/mSYcTeMe8D
— PsuOtto (@PsuOtto) December 13, 2021
So jump on that first period over tonight at -125 and given the fact that teams returning from a road trip usually come out flat in their first game back home, take the three-way money line on Vegas in the first period at +185.
As for our prediction on the outcome, with Marchand and Smith out, (and maybe more by faceoff), this looks like a great spot for the Knights to get a likely flat and flustered Bruins team. Take the Knights in regulation.
Prediction: Knights 4 Bruins 2
Boston Bruins Notes
– The Boston Bruins have outscored opponents 14 -7 during their current five-game point streak. That has propelled the Bruins into the top 20 in goal differential. They have now scored 68 goals and are scoring at a 2.83 clip. The B’s have allowed 61 goals and come into this game with a 2.54 GAA.
-Speaking of goals-against, Boston Bruins rookie goalie Jeremy Swayman is expected to get the nod between the pipes tonight after Linus Ullmark started the last two games. Swayman helped the Bruins earn a point in a 2-1 shootout loss against the Vancouver Canucks last Thursday, stopping 31 of 32 shots. Swayman is now 7-4-2 with a 2.15 GAA and a .922 save percentage.
-Despite opponents targeting him with more and more cheap shots on him, Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron has still been a beast in the last three games. During that span, Bergeron has a goal and three assists, and he now has nine goals and 13 assists in 24 games.
-For the third time this season, defenseman Mike Reilly will be a healthy scratch tonight. Reilly has two goals and two assists in 22 games this season.
-Bruins defenseman Jakub Zboril will miss his fourth straight game since suffering a nasty leg injury against the Nashville Predators on December 2.
Vegas Golden Knights Notes
-The Knights come into tonight’s game with three players that have scored ten goals or more and two that have amassed 20 points or more this season.
Jonathan Marchessault has scored 11 goals in 22 games, former Boston Bruins winger Reilly Smith has scored 10 goals in 27 games, and former Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty has been on fire since returning from an injury that kept him out of the team’s first 14 games. Pacioretty has scored ten goals and has seven assists in just ten games.
Chandler Stephenson (9g, 17 a) leads the team in points with 26. Smith’s ten goals and ten assists have him second in points with 20.
-Golden Knights goalie Robin Lehner is expected to get the start Tuesday. Lehner is 11-9-0 with a 3.15 GAA and .904 save percentage.
-Shea Theodore and Nicolas Roy (undisclosed) are both game-time decisions for the Knights. Both were lept off the ice Tuesday morning and it was not known if it was COVID-related.
-For more information on the Knights go check out our sister site in Sin City, Vegas Hockey Now!
Boston Bruins Lines
*Note: Due to Marchand skating on the top line at the game-day skate but then being placed in COVID protocol, this is our best guess on the forward lines for tonight.
Taylor Hall-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk-Charlie Coyle-Nick Foligno
Erik Haula-Tomas Nosek-Jack Studnicka/Oskar Steen
Anton Blidh-Trent Frederic-Curtis Lazar
Derek Forbort-Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk-Brandon Carlo
John Moore-Connor Clifton
Vegas Golden Knights Lines
Max Pacioretty- Chandler Stephenson- Mark Stone
Jonathan Marchessault- William Karlsson- Reilly Smith
Mattias Janmark– Nicolas Roy- Evgenii Dadonov
William Carrier- Keegan Kolesar- Michael Amadio
Nicolas Hague– Alex Pietrangelo
Brayden McNabb- Zach Whitecloud
Ben Hutton- Shea Theodore