Bruins, Canucks highlight NHL odds slate

By: Barry Daniels | Friday, February 25, 2011

Two of the best goaltenders in the NHL square off Saturday night when Roberto Luongo and the Northwest Division-leading Vancouver Canucks host Tim Thomas and the Northeast Division-leading Boston Bruins.

The overnight line for this 7:00 p.m. (PT) contest has the Canucks as 150 home favorites, with the total set at 5 ½ ‘under’ (minus 120).

The well-rested Bruins have captured the first three outings on this current six-game road excursion, including Tuesday’s 3-1 victory at Calgary as 107 road favorites. The combined four goals dipped ‘under’ the 5 ½-goal closing total, snapping Boston’s streak of six straight ‘over’ games.

Nevertheless, the ‘under’ is 30-23-7 in the Bruins’ first 60 overall efforts and 13-11-6 in their first 30 road dates.

Tuesday’s victory lifted Boston’s road ledger to a sparkling 19-7-1-3, which is actually better then the club’s home record of 15-12-1-2. The Bruins are outscoring the opposition on enemy ice by almost one goal per game (3.2 – 2.3).

Boston All-Star goalie Tim Thomas made 28 saves, and Milan Lucic scored twice to lead the Bruins past Calgary.

Thomas was playing for the first time in a week after getting a two-game break from Bruins coach Claude Julien. The 36-year-old netminder had lost consecutive games for the first time this season, yielding eight goals in the process.

Thomas raised his record to 27-8-6) and lowered his NHL-leading goals-against average to 1.99. He also has a sparkling .939 save percentage and league-high seven shutouts.

Rich Perverley, acquired in a trade earlier in the week, made his Bruins debut by playing on a line with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder.

Boston went 0-for-2 with the man advantage against the Flames, marking the first time in six games the Bruins had failed to register a power play goal. Nonetheless, the Bruins are ranked 13th on the power play with a 17.9 percent success rate.

Putting the puck in the net has not been a problem for a Boston offense that is ranked fourth with an average of 3.1 goals per game. The Bruins are averaging 33.5 shots on goal per game, which ranks second.

Vancouver has captured two of its first three outings on a current six-game homestand. The Canucks are off Thursday’s 3-2 victory against the St. Louis Blues as hefty 190 home favorites.

The combined five goals dipped below the NHL odds, leaving the ‘under’ 5-1 in Vancouver’s last six contests. However, the ‘over’ is 17-14-1 in the club’s first 32 home dates.

Manny Malhotra scored to snap a tie just over one minute into the third period and Cory Schneider turned aside 28 shots to lead Vancouver. Mikael Samuelsson scored and defenseman Sami Salo netted his first goal of the season to help Vancouver remain one point ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers in the race for the Presidents' Trophy.

Though Schneider was the winning goalie in Thursday’s game, Roberto Luongo figures to be between the pipes for Saturday’s contest against the Bruins. Vancouver’s No. 1 goalie is a nifty 28-11-2-5 with a sparkling 2.27 GAA, a .924 save percentage and three shutouts.

Alain Vigneault’s Canucks are outscoring their opponents at General Motors Place by an average of 3.53 to 2.19 en route to a league-best 22-5-1-4 home record.

Vancouver continues to lead the league both offensively and defensively. The club is scoring an average of 3.3 GPG and allowing an average of 2.3 GPG. The Canucks also own the league’s best power play with a 25 percent success rate, and are fourth on the penalty kill (85.5 percent).

Boston continues its six-game road journey next Tuesday with a stop in Ottawa to play the Senators. Vancouver remains on its six-game homestand with a Tuesday meeting against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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