Boston are very well rested after only taking the ice once this week, and are at least a couple of games behind every other club in the East. Winning each of those matches in hand would put them out in front, and they start with a trip to struggling Florida this afternoon. Defensively these two couldn't be much further apart: the Panthers have conceded over five times as many powerplay goals over only slightly more time shorthanded. The Bruins have won four contests against teams from the Southeast, so back that dominance to continue at 2.20 or take on the -1.5 handicap for 2.90.
It should be an entertaining game in Pittsburgh, where the league's highest scoring teams meet. Reports of a concussion to Evgeni Malkin has dampened the Penguins' mood and there's no word on the next time he'll suit up. Through their poor run the Lightning were often leaving goalie Anders Lindback hung out to dry under a barrage of shots, and the Penguins will be a real test of their recent tightening up in that department. They will also be buoyed by the solid effort put in at both ends last night against Carolina, which took them back to the top of the Southeast. Tampa undoubtedly have the ability to win this game and Pittsburgh's home form isn't as dominant as you'd expect. I think the away win at 3.55 is worth a shot.
It's top versus bottom in the West. For this daunting task of facing red hot Chicago, the Columbus Blue Jackets are given the longest odds we've seen for any team all season at 4.65. You have to feel for the Columbus fanbase: yet again they are slipping out of contention early and heading for a high draft pick. How the management has perpetuated having such a blatant lack of talent in their lineup for this long is beyond me. Surely the Jackets can't be the club to end this remarkable streak by the Hawks. A Chicago win should be a banker at 1.60.
Best bet: Boston Bruins to win at 2.20