Well, it’s what everybody’s been waiting for, isn’t it? The game will be a thriller so stay up late and treat yourself to a show. Can the Hawks ride their momentum and gain an added burst from Marian Hossa’s return? We’ll see!
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Toronto Maple Leafs +120 at Tampa Bay Lightning -140
I’m not sure Tocchet’s crew is getting as much love as they deserve here. Tampa still does not have a regulation loss at home, 5-0-4, and is coming off of a big 4-3 win over the Thrashers. The Leafs have won 1 of their last 7 and their goaltending situation continues as Vesa Toskala sits with another groin injury and Jonas Gustavsson, who’s playing much worse than the beginning of the season, will get the start. Gustavsson has a GAA of 4.13 or higher in each of his last 3 starts and has been picked apart by teams like Minnesota, Calgary and Carolina. Tampa’s home defense ranks 7th best in the league and gets an even bigger boost with the league’s number 2 goalies in GAA and top SV%, Antero Niittymaki – 3-0-2 with a 1.71 GAA at home this season. The Leafs won’t get another 61 shots on goal in this one.
Pick: Bolts -140
Ottawa Senators +125 at New Jersey Devils -145
It’s almost as if the Devils couldn’t wait to get home. After going 0-3 on their recent road trip, the Devils are back home against a Sens team dealing with the loss of their top goalie, Pascal Leclaire, for a month. When counted on this season, Elliott has done well, 4-1-2 with a 2.91 GAA, but now we’ll see if he’s capable of carrying an extended workload. The Sens’ road defense, 3.3 goals allowed, and offense, 2.3 goals for, won’t provide him much help as the Devils counter with 2.4 goals for and 2.4 goals against – 7th best – at home. The Sens have the ability to produce points – they’ve averaged 4.5 goals per game over their last 4 games (all wins), knocking down Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and Washington over that stretch. The Devils are a battered team and their most recent games are evident of that. We’ll see if things change on the road but as we learned on Saturday, a game with backups in net shouldn’t have a game total of 5.0 goals – even with Martin Brodeur on the Devils’ side.
Pick: Over 5.0 goals -135
Montreal Canadiens +200 at Pittsburgh Penguins -220
After ruining my pick last night, the Habs jump on the road to Pittsburgh, winners of 4 of their last 5 and finally rebounding for a torrid 4-game losing streak. The Pens are happy to be back home as well as they average 3.2 goals per game and 2.5 goals against on their rink. That’s good for us too because these teams traditionally go over (6 of their last 8 meetings) when playing in Pittsburgh including once already this season. Marc-Andre Fleury hasn’t been on his game of late and the Habs should take advantage of the injuries limiting the Pens’ defense. The Pens usually play at a total of 6.0 but the Habs in town (under in 4 of their last 6 road games) pushes it down to 5.5.
Pick: Over 5.5 goals -110
Boston Bruins -135 at Minnesota Wild +115
The Boston’s played as predicted on Monday, and got a boost from newly returned center Marc Savard – who didn’t even factor in on the scoresheet. Instead Patrice Bergeron, maybe in an effort to salvage playing time, played his game of the season. Either way, it’s good news for the Bruins who are now riding a 3-game winning streak with 3 big road wins as the underdog. The Wild snapped a 4-game losing streak with a win on last Friday (yeah, they haven’t played since… figure that out) to the Isles. The Wild just simply haven’t shown many promising signs this season and nearly everyone they are counting on to produce is coming up flat. They have the 3rd-worst offense overall and 7th-worst defense, 3.1 goals allowed per game but have been a whole different team at home. They have amassed a 6-3 home record and are 3-0 at home against Eastern Conference teams, while the Bruins are 5-3-2 on the road and 2-2 on the road against Western teams. It’s unsure who the Bruins are going with in goal but it’s apparent that either Tuukka Rask or Tim Thomas give them an equal opportunity to win as both have excelled on the year. The Bruins are the healthier team, for once, and shouldn’t have a problem taking this one.
Pick: Bruins -135
Carolina Hurricanes +165 at Anaheim Ducks -185
The Canes average 1.6 goals per game on the road, allow 3.9 goals per game (third-worst) and haven’t won yet on the road. The Ducks average 3.1 goals per game at home but allow 3.4 goals per game, good for second-worst. The Ducks have won 2 of their past 3 home games including big wins to Tampa and Calgary and a close loss to San Jose. They might be turning around but it is certainly taking them a while to do it. Their offense has been held down over the past few games against stifling defenses but the Canes will give them plenty of breathing room. Both teams are split when it comes to over/unders but when defenses that have been struggling this badly meet up, I lean towards the over.
Pick: Over 5.5 goals -110
Chicago Blackhawks +115 at San Jose Sharks -135
The Hawks are, hands down, the toughest team to beat right now and will take it to opponents offensively, 12 goals total at Edmonton and Calgary, or defensively, 3 goals against in 3 games. Their 4th road game in a row won’t help their case but getting Marian Hossa back will. We saw the Bruins get a boost from having Marc Savard back in the lineup and if the Hawks want to prove they are serious contenders this season, tonight is the night they do it. The Sharks haven’t lost in regulation at home, 7-0-2, and the Hawks are only 5-3-1 on the road. Both teams match up nearly identically in both offense and defense with the only real advantage coming to the Hawks’ 32.4% road powerplay dominating the Sharks’ 14.7% home powerplay. The game essentially boils down to a pick ’em with both teams playing so well offensively and defensively, but I like the boost the Hawks should see with Hossa suiting up.
Pick: Hawks +115
Fan Favourite Record: 6-9, -4.02
Betting results by category so far this season:
- Money Line 49-54, -13.81
- Puck Line 7-18, -7.1
- Game Totals 42-32-1, +4.17