The Boston Bruins entered their current six-day break on a high, knocking off the Atlantic-leading Montreal Canadiens 4-0 as -135 home favorites last Sunday to seize a share of second place in the division.
But with the fourth-place Toronto Maple Leafs trailing by just a single point, the Bruins have yet to fully escape the playoff bubble, as reflected by their middling +3300 odds to win the Stanley Cup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
It has been an inconsistent campaign for the Bruins, who have endured losing streaks of three or more games on four occasions. However, the club has discovered its offensive touch in recent weeks, averaging 4.25 goals per game during its current 6-2-0 run.
The Bruins also have responded well to last week?s coaching change, which saw Claude Julien dismissed following a decade behind the bench, and replaced by interim coach Bruce Cassidy.
Boston is a perfect 3-0-0 since Cassidy took over, outscoring opponents 14-6 in a trio of victories at TD Garden. However, Boston enters the home stretch of the regular season with a steady diet of games against Western Conference opponents, including a four-game western swing that opens in San Jose with Sunday night?s matchup against the Sharks.
Boston has been struggling on the road, posting just one win over its past five, while twice losing outright as a road favorite, according to the OddsShark NHL Database.
The Bruins also are winless in their past two visits to San Jose, falling 3-2 as +115 underdogs in their most recent visit last March, and face the daunting task of halting a six-game losing streak against the Ducks when they visit Anaheim later next week.
Overall, the Bruins play 11 of their final 24 regular-season games against opponents from the West, versus just eight remaining dates against Atlantic Division rivals.
The club has made the most out of matchups within its division, posting a 15-6-1 record, and maintains +1400 odds to win the Atlantic Division. However, the Bruins are just 8-9-0 in 17 dates with Western Conference clubs this season, and a meager 8-10-3 in their past 21 meetings with Pacific Division teams.
Another lengthy junket in mid-March includes three dates in Western Canada, but it could be the three remaining matchups with the Ottawa Senators that make or break the Bruins? playoff hopes.
Ottawa sits alongside the Bruins in the Atlantic Division standings with 64 points, but holds four games in hand, and has taken seven of its past nine from Boston, including a 3-1 victory at Canadian Tire Centre as -132 home favorites on the NHL odds in November.
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