Every matchup in the NHL conference semifinals is highly anticipated but it can be argued that Boston vs. Tampa Bay is going to be the best to watch. A single point separated these two teams in the Atlantic Conference during the regular season as Tampa Bay (113) edged out Boston (112) for the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Lightning took care of business 4-1 in their first round series against New Jersey but Boston was stretched to 7 against Toronto. Do those two extra games doom the Bruins in the April 28th NHL playoffs free pick or does Boston thrive on the momentum?
Bruins Riding High – or Tired – After a Wild Game 7 First Round Win?
The Bruins entered the third period of their first round Game 7 against Toronto with their backs against the wall. The Maple Leafs held a 4-3 advantage before the Bruins rattled off 4 goals in the third to clinch the series in front of their home ice fans. It was a huge win for the Bruins to set up the second round April 28th NHL playoffs free pick against a team that beat them out by a single point for home ice through the East. Boston went 1-2 on the road in their first round series while Tampa was 3-0 on their home ice against the Devils. The reason that one regular season point was so huge is because the Lightning’s home ice advantage is very significant – they were 32-10-2 at Amalie Arena during the regular season.
Yes that game 7 win was great – but at the same time it occurred just Wednesday night meanwhile Tampa Bay hasn’t played in almost a week. Are the Lightning rusty which gives an advantage to Boston or are the Bruins emotionally drained? The Bruins may have more than fatigue to worry about as G Tuukka Rask has allowed 3+ goals in 4 of 7 games during the Toronto series. The good thing is Rask doesn’t have to be at his optimum best the way the B’s offense has been playing. They had two 7 goal games in the Toronto series and were the #6 scoring team in the NHL during the regular season.
Does Tampa Have a Complex Against Boston?
As the top seed in the East, Tampa Bay is the favorite to win this series but the odds tell a story of a close battle with TB at just -145. There’s some great value in Boston at +125 for the series, especially considering the Lightning dropped 3 of 4 regular season matchups between the two. As stated, the Lightning are on their home ice and they are rested. All four wins in the first round series against New Jersey were by two goals or more. They gave up a hiccup in Game 3 falling 3-5 in New Jersey but for the most part were dominant.
The biggest key in the April 28th NHL playoffs free pick for Tampa Bay is going to be their defense. They surrendered 12 goals in 5 games to New Jersey including just 2 total in the last two games of the series. Andrei Vasilevskiy steers that ship in net and he’s only responsible for 2 goals allowed per game during the first round. What’s more impressive about his performance is that he faced 30+ shots three times during the series, including 44 in a 5-3 Game 2 win.
April 28th NHL Playoffs Free Pick Betting
Yes the Tampa Bay defense is playing good, but they also have the luxury of boasting the league’s #1 scoring offense Nikita Kucherov had 10 points in 5 games against the Devils but David Pastrnak has 13 for the Bruins (albeit in two more games) Boston has great depth that includes Patrice Bergeron (8 points), Brad Marchand (9 points) and David Backes who is due for a breakout series. Tampa Bay is considerable favorites Saturday afternoon, listed at -155. Yes the Lightning were great at home this year, but the Bruins did score a 3-0 win in Tampa on March 17th. These two teams are more even than you think and today’s value is in the visitors against a team trying to get back into things after a considerable layoff.
Free Pick: Boston Bruins +135