NHL Hockey Betting:  Pittsburgh Penguins at Boston Bruins&h=253&w=372&zc=1

Two teams that are trying to hold on to the final ‘guaranteed’ playoff spot in their respective divisions. The Pittsburgh Penguins are in third place in the Metropolitan Division three points behind second place Columbus and five back of first place Washington. They’re 6-4-0 in their last 10 but have the New York Rangers just two points back. The Penguins aren’t in danger of falling out of playoff qualification–even if they were to drop in the top wild card spot (currently occupied by the Rangers) they’d be at least 10 points up on the second wild card team. Their preference, no doubt, is to move up in the standings and hopefully make a run at home ice advantage during the postseason.

The Boston Bruins aren’t quite as secure in their postseason prospects. They’re in third place in the Atlantic Division but lead surging Toronto by only one game. They’ve also got the rest of division to worry about with Florida 4 back and Buffalo, Detroit and Tampa Bay all five points back. Were the Bruins to fall into the final wild card spot they’d be in a pack of 8 teams all fighting for one open wild card spot. The Bruins are 4-4-2 in their last ten games but have struggled all season to find consistency, particularly on offense.

Neither goalie is confirmed at this point but the Bruins will almost certainly start Tuukka Rask. Rask has been incredibly solid this season and has really carried this team at times. He’s got a 23-12-4 record with a 2.13 goals against average and a 0.919 save percentage along with 5 shutouts. The Penguins have Marc-Andre Fleury ‘penciled in’ but Matt Moore has received most of the playing time lately–Moore has started five straight and six of the last seven. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see either goalie between the pipes on Thursday night. Bad news for the Penguins as they’ll be without Evgeni Malkin who’ll miss this game–and the All Star Game on Sunday–with a lower body injury. Penguins have won both games this season against the Bruins and we’ll look for them to make it three for three and get them at a nice price in the process.