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NHL Monday best bets: Bruins look to strike vs. Lightning

Rich Gagnon / Getty Images Sport / Getty

We have a fun seven-game slate on the docket to begin the week. I see value in backing a pair of elite teams on the road against sides missing key contributors.

Let's take a closer look.

Bruins (-135) @ Lightning (+115)

The Lightning are getting a bit too much respect in this spot. They have only won eight of 18 games this season and have clear flaws in a lot of areas.

They don't possess much scoring depth, their team defense is underwhelming, and Jonas Johansson is in over his head as a starting goaltender.

He's performed better than anticipated given his track record, but he's still conceded more goals than expected this season.

It's no coincidence the Bolts are allowing 3.61 goals per game, one of the highest marks in the NHL.

The Lightning generally need to outscore their problems, which is going to be an extremely difficult task against the Bruins.

The Bruins are allowing only 2.35 expected goals per 60 at five-on-five this season. That is an elite rate.

They play a structured, air-tight style of hockey, don't give up a whole lot, and the goaltending is consistently good when called upon.

Projected starter Linus Ullmark ranks eighth among 41 qualified goaltenders (eight or more starts) in Goals Saved Above Expected per start. He shaves approximately half a goal per game off the opposing team's xG output, which is a big deal considering the Bruins don't allow much in the first place.

Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, and Co. may find a way to keep this game close, but I think that huge edges on defense, and in goal, will shine through for the Bruins.

Bet: Bruins (-135)

Kings (-150) @ Coyotes (+130)

The Kings own a 7-3 record over their past 10 games, during which time they lost in regulation only once.

They own the league's highest goal share (63.81%) in that span and have controlled nearly 57% of the expected goals. Suffice to say, they're a well-oiled machine.

I expect their success to continue Monday night against a struggling Coyotes team. The Coyotes have controlled only 44% of the expected goals share in November and have conceded more goals than all but five teams.

They're also playing without their first-line center Barrett Hayton. That has pushed Travis Boyd onto the top line, which is a clear downgrade.

The Kings have already faced the Coyotes twice this season and enjoyed success. They won both games in regulation, besting the Coyotes by three on one occasion while posting a 61% xG share in the other.

Since the two sides last met, the Coyotes sit 26th in shot generation at five-on-five while only two teams have done a better job of limiting shots than the Kings.

With this being the only Kings game scheduled until Friday, I expect they will continue to ride Cam Talbot - who has been drastically better than Pheonix Copley - and split starts on the weekend.

Bet: Kings in regulation (+100)

Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter, at @ToddCordell.

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