Round 3, NHL Playoff Picks: Bruins, Penguins

The last 19 games where Boston had 30-plus shots and kept their opponent to 30 or less they are 13-6 SU and 6-11-2 O/U

 

The high-flying offense of the Pittsburgh Penguins is about to face their toughest task yet in these 2013 NHL playoffs but even with Boston’s veteran leadership and experience, the moneyline odds are stacked high against the Bruins advancing.

 

In Round 2 against New York, Boston scored three-plus goals in four of five games and held NY to two goals or less in four of five games. The Bruins outshot the Rangers 186-157 (37.2 to 31.4 avg) and they are a solid pick when they limit opponent’s chances. This SDQL system from SportsDatabase.com shows Boston’s record:

 

team = Bruins and p:shots on goal >= 30 and playoffs = 1 and o:shots on goal <= 30 and date >= 20110416

SU:         5-4 (0.33, 55.6%)                 avg line: -151.9

O/U:      1-7-1 (-1.11, 12.5%)           avg total: 5.0

 

The last 19 games where Boston had 30-plus shots on goal (SOG) and kept their opponent to 30 or less they are 13-6 SU and 6-11-2 O/U. The more recent trend shows an Over/Under record of 1-7-1 including no overs and 3 unders on the road.

 

Boston was favored in eight of those nine matchups and the opening series price is PGH -205. The Pens will obviously be faves in every home game of this series and then depending on how the first two games go, Pittsburgh could even be a road fave. Here are Pittsburgh’s numbers through the first two rounds with SDQL code and a link for the big picture:

 

team = Penguins and playoffs = 1 and season = 2012

SU:         8-3 (1.73, 72.7%)                 avg line: -171.7

O/U:      7-4-0 (1.23, 63.6%)             avg total: 5.6

SoG        Pens      P-Mins  P1           P2           P3           Final

Team     33.1        5.5          15.1        1.5          1.7          0.9          4.3

Opp       33.4        6.3          19.4        0.9          0.5          1.0          2.5

 

CHANGING OF THE GUARD

One of the important things to remember in this matchup is that Tomas Vokoun did not start a game until the series vs. the New York Islanders was tied 2-2. Vokoun has won six of seven starts with a brilliant 1.85 goals against average (GAA).

 

Here are the stats for Pittsburgh vs. New York in games 1-4 (Marc-Andre Fleury):

 

team = Penguins and playoffs = 1 and 20130430 < date < 20130509

SU:         2-2 (0.75, 50.0%)                 avg line: -183.8

O/U:      3-1-0 (2.12, 75.0%)             avg total: 5.6

SoG        Pens      P-Mins  P1           P2           P3           Final

Team     28.8        5.8          19.0        2.2          1.5          0.2          4.2

Opp       32.0        5.8          22.2        1.0          1.0          1.5          3.5

 

Compare these stats for Vokoun’s seven starts:

 

team = Penguins and playoffs = 1 and season = 2012 and date >= 20130509

SU:         6-1 (2.29, 85.7%)                 avg line: -165.6

O/U:      4-3-0 (0.71, 57.1%)             avg total: 5.6

SoG        Pens      P-Mins  P1           P2           P3           Final

Team     35.6        5.3          12.9        1.0          1.9          1.3          4.3

Opp       34.1        6.6          17.7        0.9          0.3          0.7          2.0

 

CUP READY

Better win percentage, cheaper moneyline price, more unders and a drastically reduced margin for how far games averaged above the total. Pittsburgh also had seven more SOG per game and allowed two more. That tells us Vokoun has inspired a new confidence for the Pens.

 

The average total stayed the same (5.6) and we’ll start to see some 5.5’s against Boston but can the Bruins find a way to stem Pittsburgh’s torrid scoring pace?

 

“SOG” BREAKDOWN

Boston leads all playoff teams with 38.2 shots on goal (SOG) and the Pens are 6th at 33.1. Boston’s first two opponents, Toronto (32.3) and New York Rangers (28.2), ranked 27th and 11th respectively for SOG allowed during the regular season. That avg’s out to 30.3 SOG allowed per game so Boston outpaced the average by roughly eight SOG per game. It’s a limited sample but Boston’s 38.2 is actually almost five SOG more than the most generous team in the league this season (Buffalo 33.5).

 

Pittsburgh’s first two opponents, the NY Islanders (28.2) and Ottawa (31.3) ranked 10th and 23rd respectively for SOG allowed during the regular season. That averages out to 29.8 SOG allowed per game so Pittsburgh outpaced the average by roughly 3.2 SOG per game.

 

The difference is that Boston allowed 28.6 SOG this season and the Pens 29.2. The Law of Avg’s then states that the B’s will consistently outshoot the Pens in this series.

 

MONKEY WRENCH

Here’s something about this scenario that we find interesting, though. Since 2009, even when teams outshot the Pens by 5 or more SOG per game, Pittsburgh’s record was amazing:

 

team = Penguins and t:shots on goal < o:shots on goal -5 and season >= 2009

SU:         36-17 (0.57, 67.9%)            avg line: -140.9

O/U:      23-28-2 (0.14, 45.1%)        avg total: 5.5

SoG        Pens      P-Mins  P1           P2           P3           Final

Team     25.8        5.9          14.8        1.1          1.1          0.8          3.1

Opp       35.5        5.2          13.6        0.8          0.7          1.0          2.5

 

Not all of those teams were built like the Bruins, however. In a lot of cases it looks like the Pens were leading through 40 minutes (2.2 to 1.5 scoring avg) so they had the opportunity to give their fourth liners some additional ice time. Boston’s fourth line and entire D-corps proved against the Rangers that they are not to be taken lightly.

 

Goaltending is pretty much a push in this series and both teams have plenty of playoff experience. Home ice advantage will exist for both teams so Pens start with an edge there but it does not justify odds of 2 to 1.

 

ROUND 3 – NHL BETTING STRATEGY

We are going to back the Bruins at +170 for a series upset and suggest you take a hard look at the “Over” for every game of this series. If Boston can slow the pace we will find out if Pittsburgh can win low scoring games vs. talented teams (Vokoun does have the talent). But for now we’re stuck wondering if Boston even wants to slow things down?

Pick: Take the Bruins +170 to win the series

 

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