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Barkov, Tkachuk to shine in series opener vs. Bruins

Eliot J. Schechter / National Hockey League / Getty

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The puck drops Monday in Game 1 between the Bruins and Panthers. Let's take a closer look at the best ways to attack the opener.

Aleksander Barkov: Over 2.5 shots

Barkov has a nice shooting history against the Bruins when playing in Florida. He's gone over his total in five of the past seven home games vs. Boston, averaging 3.4 shots per contest on upwards of seven attempts, which is very steady volume.

That trend should continue in Game 1. Panthers head coach Paul Maurice has opted to move Matthew Tkachuk and Carter Verhaeghe to Barkov's line, which should help bring out the best in Barkov when it comes to shooting the puck.

Dating back to last season, Barkov's shot rates when playing with Tkachuk are drastically higher than with Sam Reinhart or any other winger.

It's also worth noting: Sam Bennett remains out due to injury, and Barkov averages an extra minute per game without Bennett in the lineup. More ice time leads to more shooting opportunities.

Odds: -140 (playable to -150)

Matthew Tkachuk: Over 0.5 assists

Tkachuk's on an absolute heater at home, recording at least one assist in 20 of his past 30 games in Florida, which equates to a remarkable 67% success rate.

He has great chemistry with Verhaeghe at even strength and handles the puck a ton down low on the power play. This leads to Tkachuk facilitating a ton of offense for teammates in high-danger areas and, when they convert, plenty of assists.

Paying with Barkov rather than Bennett should help Tkachuk, too. Barkov scores more goals than Bennett and converts on his chances at a higher rate (Barkov's career shooting percentage is about 3% higher).

Playing big minutes at five-on-five with two strong finishers and a key role on a dangerous power play should mean Tkachuk creates a bundle of chances in this game. Look for at least one of them to find the back of the net.

Odds: -115 (playable to -135)

Pavel Zacha: Over 0.5 points

The Bruins enjoyed plenty of success against the Panthers during the regular season and Zacha was a big reason why. He put up five points over four games, finding the scoresheet at least once on three occasions.

Although Zacha's coming off a quiet series against Toronto, I'm not worried about him.

He remains on the top line with David Pastrnak and continues to share the ice with the lethal sniper on the power play. As long as Zacha's role doesn't change, he'll have plenty of chances to get involved offensively and help create goals.

Pastrnak's recorded a point in seven of his past nine against Florida. Considering Zacha is attached to Pastrnak's hip in every situation, Pastrnak's production correlates nicely with Zacha.

I like the idea of getting exposure to one of the game's best offensive players in Pastrnak at a much more generous price point by way of Zacha.

Odds: -110 (playable to -125)

Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. You can follow him on X at @ToddCordell.

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