NHL Daily Free Picks & Predictions
VegasInsider.com NHL expert Matt Blunt provides his score predictions and best bets for one NHL game on Friday Feb. 26, 2021.
Boston vs N.Y. Rangers
Money-Line Odds: Boston -159; N.Y. Rangers +138
Total (Over-Under): 5.5
Score Prediction: Boston 4 New York 2
Best Bet: Bruins ML
Not sure there have been many worse periods of hockey played by any Stanley Cup contender this year than what we saw from Boston in the third period last night.
A 2-2 game at the 2nd intermission saw Boston go down 3-2 about six minutes in, but after Jordan Eberle made it 4-2 for the Islanders just after the 10 minute mark, Boston packed up the shop and just let the game completely get away from them in ugly fashion.
A short-handed goal by the Islanders about a minute and a half later killed any hope of another Bruins 3rd period comeback this year, and two more Islanders goals later we got the final result of 7-2.
Throw away games like that are going to happen to every NHL season, especially the uniqueness of this one with it's scheduling, and as hard as it may be to shake what we saw from Boston 24 hours ago, I believe that's exactly what has to be done here.
For one, if you extend the outlook of the Bruins recent play to their last two games, the latter was that 7-3 win in Lake Tahoe over Philly, in a game Boston could really do no wrong against the undermanned Flyers squad.
The counter point there is that going back even further, Boston's dropped three of their past four overall, but they made the choice to give starting goalie Tuukka Rask this game against the Rangers even before that debacle against the Islanders, and even just having their starter back between the pipes should be a step up from what we saw on Thursday.
Furthermore, it's the undermanned, inconsistent NY Rangers sharing the ice with them in this game, and while to Rangers fans I'm sure it sounds like I've been picking on them this week, they are still a team searching for an identity and some consistency in my view.
Although a positive could be taken from the Rangers losing two tight, one-goal games to Boston earlier this month, and that it's a back-to-back for Boston as well, I do believe those are already somewhat reflected in the shorter price with Boston now around -160 at New York when they closed above -170 at New York for those two previous games.
It's Boston off such a disappointing and embarrassing effort in that final 20 minutes last night that has to make you think that there is really nowhere to go but up for Boston after that performance.
Even as a back-to-back, fatigue shouldn't be a huge concern for Boston given that they had been off since Sunday, and the Bruins are a good enough team in this league/division where them owning an opponent or two in the season series records eventually is nowhere near as unlikely as saw Devils/Sabres games as I discussed yesterday.
Finally, with how Boston's immediate schedule is laid out (at New York on Sunday, then vs Washington for two games), the more likely spot for New York to catch the Bruins in my view is in that Sunday game where it will be three-in-four for Boston and the Bruins possibly looking ahead to those meetings with the Capitals and old friend Zdeno Chara.
So I'll lay the chalk with Boston tonight in a situation where a Bruins bounce back is highly likely from my perspective, as the closeness of those two previous wins over NYR will not have Boston taking this team lightly. After all, they made the choice to hold Rask back for this game specifically, 24 hours in advance.
The Rangers are back at home for the first time in over a week, and with New York on a 5-16 SU run going back multiple seasons now after being away from home for a week-plus, and Boston looking to save face after Thursday's showing, Boston finds a way to get it done here.
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