Bad Ending

Boston,Ma - A loss to the top team in the Eastern Conference wasn't the way the struggling Pittsburgh Penguins wanted to close out the calendar year.

Bet NHL Hockey

Another matchup with the Boston Bruins, however, might not provide a pleasant start to 2009 either.

Oddsmakers from Online Sportsbook Sportsbook.com have made the Bruins –185 money line favorites for Tuesday’s game against the Lightning. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 63% of more than 128 bets for this game have been placed on the Bruins -185.

Looking to break out of a slump, the Penguins conclude a home-and-home series on Thursday night against the Bruins, winners of nine straight overall and 13 in a row at TD Banknorth Garden.

Last season, Pittsburgh (19-14-4) clinched the East and advanced to the Stanley Cup finals before falling to eventual champion Detroit. The Penguins were expected to contend again in 2008-09, but hasn't quite met those expectations.

The Penguins are fourth in the Atlantic Division, and seventh in the conference with 42 points - 18 behind the first-place Bruins (28-5-4).

Additionally, Pittsburgh is just 8-10-2 since its season-high six-game winning streak from Nov. 1-15. Following its fourth consecutive home defeat, 5-2 to Boston on Tuesday, the team held a players-only meeting to address its struggles as it prepares to play four contests in six days.

"It really comes down to team attitude and preparation, or lack of preparation, that we're putting in as a team," defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "There are no easy games in the league any more. You can't really afford to take a night off and, if you don't have all 20 guys at their best, it's going to cost you."

Boston, meanwhile, has been red-hot, outscoring opponents 106-51 while going 23-2-1 since the start of November.

On Tuesday, the Bruins capped a perfect five-game road trip and secured their ninth straight victory overall. They haven't won 10 in a row since March 9-28, 1973.

"We just want to win every game,'' said defenseman Zdeno Chara, who had a goal and an assist on Tuesday. "The stats and the history is one thing, but playing every game the best we can is another thing. After each game we want to look forward instead of back on whatever the record is."

Boston also seeks 14 consecutive home wins for the first time since a 16-game run from Jan. 10-March 25, 1976.

Pittsburgh - riding a three-game road winning streak - and Toronto are the only teams to have beaten the Bruins at home, winning 2-1 in a shootout on Oct. 20.

Tops in the league with 137 tallies, Boston has averaged 4.67 goals during its current run. That surge has been keyed by David Krejci (five goals, 11 assists), Phil Kessel (six goals, seven assists) and Marc Savard (four goals, 10 assists)

Savard leads the Bruins with 34 assists and 46 points.

Scoring, though, has been a problem for Pittsburgh lately despite scoring 118 goals this season and having Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby on its roster. The Penguins have been held to four tallies in losing three of its last four, while the star centers have combined for a goal and three assists.

Malkin leads the NHL with 44 assists and 59 points, while Crosby has 15 goals and 50 points.

They seek to regain their scoring touch against Boston's defense, which has conceded a conference-low 82 tallies as Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez have limited teams to a collective 2.22 goals per contest during the winning streak.

Thomas won his seventh straight start on Tuesday, but Fernandez could be in the crease on Thursday as he's 8-0-0 with a 2.04 goals-against average in nine home appearances.

He's also 2-1-0 with a tie, a shutout and a 1.23 GAA in four games versus the Penguins.

Bet NHL Hockey

Did you like this article? Subscribe to our Hockey news feed for the fastest updates delivered right to you - Click here to Subscribe

Posted: 1/1/09 12:55AM ET

Advertisement

NHL Top Stories

Thumbnail Flames vs. Coyotes Prediction Will the under cash tonight when the Coyotes host the Flames at 9:00PM ET?
Thumbnail Caps, B's poised for ultra-competitive affair Despite minimal offensive contributions, Boston has captured three games in a row entering Wednesday’s matchup against Washington. Will Claude Julien’s club stay...
Thumbnail Montreal surprisingly mediocre on road Home ice has been very good to the Blues so far this season. But will the NHL’s top team put an end to the fun shortly?
Thumbnail Panthers vs. Bruins Prediction The Panthers have been a horrible bet against the Bruins but will they pull off the upset tonight at 7:00PM ET in Boston?
Thumbnail Detroit hopes to hold off surging Pittsburgh So far this season, nothing has been easy for the Red Wings. Add tonight’s matchup against the explosive Penguins to the list.
Advertisement

NHL Headlines

NHL Team Pages