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The Boston Bruins have won three of their last five games.
The Colorado Avalanche are on a two-game losing streak.
The Avalanche will be without star center Nathan MacKinnon.
Odds Taken from FanDuel Sportsbook.
20-3-1 (1st in Atlantic Division)
13-9-1 (4th in Central Division)
David Pastrnak (35)
Mikko Rantanen (34)
David Pastrnak (17)
Mikko Rantanen (15)
David Pastrnak (18)
Nathan MacKinnon (26)
Hampus Lindholm (21)
Erik Johnson (8)
David Pastrnak (5.04)
Shots (Per Game)
Nathan MacKinnon (5.22)
The Boston Bruins will travel west to face the Colorado Avalanche. The Bruins are the second-best team in the NHL with 41 points. A win today would cement their spot at the top of the Atlantic Division, and a loss would allow the Toronto Maple Leafs to move closer to the first-place spot. On the other side, the Avalanche have control of the second Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. A win today could move them up a spot or two, but a loss could push them out of the Playoff picture.
The Bruins have the NHL’s top offense and defense and arguably the best goaltending duo in the league. Boston has one of the most well-rounded rosters in the NHL, which is why they have 41 points in 25 games.
The Bruins’ success has been largely orchestrated by David Pastrnak. Pastrnak leads his teams in goals (17), assists (18), and points (35). His outstanding play is often the reason Boston wins. Pastrnak is often on the ice with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Bergeron and Marchand are both in their mid to late 30s but are performing at a high level. They each have 21 points and play more than 18 minutes a game. If these veterans continue to play well, the sky is the limit for Boston.
Linus Ullmark is Boston’s top goalie and the top goalie in the NHL. The 29-year-old leads the NHL with 14 wins and his .936 save percentage is #1 in the league.
The Avalanche are having a strong season but are underperforming compared to last season. Their offense is not as good as Boston’s but in the top ten, and their defense is also in the top ten. With that being said, their goaltenders could improve and have the potential to be in the top five.
The Avalanche will be led by Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar today. They will both need to take on larger roles with the absence of Nathan MacKinnon. These two are very impressive and have combined for 56 points in 23 games. In addition, Makar plays an absurd 27 minutes a game.
The Avalanche could have a top goaltending duo in Alexander Georgiev and Pavel Francouz. Both have been dominant at points in their careers but have lost a little this year. Georgiev is the better of the two and has a .920 save percentage, but Colorado needs to see Francouz step up and become the NHL’s best backup.
I have to go with the safe choice and pick Boston to win. Other than playing on the road, they have every significant advantage. In addition, Boston has been significantly hotter than Colorado over the last week.
The Bruins may be the favorites, but they can improve their chances of winning by shooting 40+ times and playing tough defense.
The Bruins have very few offensive flaws, but it can never hurt to shoot more. Currently, Boston averages 3.96 goals per game on 34.8 shots. If they increase their shot output to 40 or more, the Bruins might be able to score five goals and put the game out of reach for the Avalanche.
The Bruins have a strong offense, but so do the Avalanche. Colorado may be without Nathan MacKinnon, but they still have many other weapons. Since this is the case, the Bruins’ defensemen need to come prepared and play smothering defense.
The Avalanche are the underdogs but can win if they score first and draw penalties.
The Avalanche have the tough task of facing arguably the NHL’s best team. They need to push the momentum in their favor early on, and the only way to do that is by scoring first. If the Avalanche score first, they will give themselves a chance to beat the NHL’s best.
Surprisingly, the Avalanche have a better power-play unit than the Bruins. The Avalanche convert over 31% of their power play opportunities, while the Bruins convert a little less than 30%. Colorado will need to depend on the power play. They must draw penalties and score at least one goal with a man advantage.
Hampus Lindholm fits in very well in his first full season in Boston. The former Anaheim Duck is a starting defenseman and plays over 24 minutes a game. Lindholm has four goals and 15 assists, but more importantly, leads the Bruins with a +/- of 21.
Lindholm must play well on both sides of the puck today. His play is invaluable and can be a difference-maker in this game.
Alex Newhook is not one of the more notable players on the Avalanche. Newhook plays less than 15 minutes a game and only has six goals. However, two of those goals came in the Avalanche’s previous game. Colorado still lost, but Newhook showed that there is a world with him as an everyday scorer.
Newhook has to take the momentum from the last game and put one in the back of the net today.
What - Boston Bruins vs Colorado Avalanche
Where - Ball Arena, Denver, Colorado
When - Wednesday, December 7, 9:00 PM EST
How to Watch - NHLPP, ESPN+
Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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