Picks: Vesa The Ghost Returns for the Leafs

Updated: November 2, 2009 at 4:35 am by Matt Bennett

Sorry for the late (and brief) picks today.  It’s been a rather hectic last couple of days and I haven’t had time to really sit down until now.  My scheduled post on the early games for today that I wrote on Thursday didn’t run and I apologize for that.  I’ve included the synopsis on the early games, even though the Flyers game has already ended.  Hopefully you saw the advantage in that matchup well ahead of time as well!

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Carolina Hurricanes +160 at Philadelphia Flyers -180

The Canes haven’t found their footing yet this season and goalie woes appear to be the early scapegoat.  Cam Ward has 0 wins and a 3.58 GAA in 6 games on the road this season.  Philly has won 4 of their last 5 meetings against the Canes including a 2-0 victory to kick off the season – don’t forget Carolina was actually good last season.  While the Flyers have lost two straight, the Canes have lost 7 straight.  Their offense has only managed 2.2 goals for on the road and an even-worse 4.3 goals allowed.  Philly, on the other hand, has been a dominant scoring force at home, with the 7th best home offense at 3.7 goals per game, but their defense has faltered allowing 3.5 goals per game.  While Philly has been a tougher team this year, they’ve only received average play from Ray Emery but are still winning games, winning 3 of his 5 home starts.  The Flyers are without Simon Gagne but should still provide enough problems for the struggling Canes.
Pick: Flyers -180

New Jersey Devils -105 at Tampa Bay Lightning -115

Tampa Bay is one of the teams with loads of potential and has underperformed so far in the season (see: Anaheim) but still manages to get it done at the Forum, going 3-0-2 this season.  New Jersey, on the other hand, has performed exceptionally well away from home, going a perfect 5-0.  In their last meeting, the Devils won in a shootout – after forcing overtime with 1 second left in the game.  Is that just tenacity or a close call for the Devils?  The last three games between these two teams have been won by the Devils by 1 goal and this time the Lightning have the edge.  If it means anything, the last time these two teams met on Halloween, in 2007, the Devils cruised to a 6-1 victory.  The Devils are without top D-man Paul Martin and Martin Brodeur is coming off of a poor outing vs. the Sabres.  The Devils haven’t managed to muster up much offense this season, only averaging 2.70 goals per game and the real key will be if Mike Smith, 2.21 GAA in 3 starts at home, can provide solid goaltending for the Bolts.  Smith has been solid in his last few starts, only allowing 2 goals in each, and he gets the edge here at home.  As favourites, the Devils are only 1-4 on the season.
Pick: Bolts-115

Buffalo Sabres -120 at New York Islanders +100

Say it ain’t so, the Isles have a surprise two-game win streak after holding off the Capitals in Washington last night.  Tonight, Marty Biron gets the start against his former team, of whom he has had decent success against, 6-2-1 and a 3.19 GAA lifetime.  Biron also looked decent in last time out, making 28 saves in a 3-2 overtime loss in Montreal, rebounding from a brutal 5-1 loss in the same building 4 days earlier.  Biron is yet to get a win for the Isles, as Roloson has started all 3 Islanders victories on the season, and he has a 3.45 GAA and .891 SV% in 5 starts.  The Sabres are going with Patrick Lalime who has lost his only start on the year, 4-2 to Atlanta at home.  The Islanders performed exceptionally well in Washington, despite allowing 40 shots on goal to the Capitals.  This should mean that Buffalo should get plenty of opportunities as they lead the league in shots for with 35.2 per game.  In Lalime’s last start, Buffalo matched their highest shot total on the year, 42, leaving me to believe Buffalo will provide the same kind of offensive support tonight.
Pick: Over 5.5 goals -115 Update: Miller is starting, going for the Sabres -120 here

Toronto Maple Leafs +120 at Montreal Canadiens -140

The Monster has performed exceptionally well given the poor defensive support the Leafs have been notorious for all year (league-worst 4.1 goals per game).  However, tonight Vesa Toskala and his ghastly 5.57 GAA (seriously 7.50 on the road) is getting the start in Montreal.  In his last start, Toskala allowed 7 goals to the Rangers before going on IR.  It appears Toskala needs to win his job back but his play of late seems more like a demotion to the minors is in store for him.  Montreal has lost two straight road games to good teams and barely squeaked by the Islanders.  Toronto, at home, provides them with the best opportunity to rebound back to their winning ways.  Halak is the probable started and was on a 4-game win streak before an inevitable collapse to the Penguins.  The Canadiens have one of the poorest powerplays but fortunately the Leafs’ worst-ranked penalty kill, 63.8%, should offer opportunities to improve.  Leafs D-man Mike Komisarek returns to the Bell Centre to face his former team and his temper may flare, as he collected 15 PIMs in the season opener vs. Montreal.  The Leafs also, thanks to a 5/10 powerplay against the Ducks, have the third-best powerplay in the league at 27.9%.  Vesa Toskala is the wild card here and his poor play on the season has to favour the Canadiens by a lot more than -140.  In 7 meetings between these teams, dating to last season, the game total has gone over 6.0 goals every time.
Pick: Habs -140 and Over 6.0 goals -120

Minnesota Wild +170 at Pittsburgh Penguins -200

The Wild beat a Gaborik-less Rangers team in a game where the Rangers established nearly zero offense but still managed to score 2 goals on 20 shots.  The Penguins yesterday had more lackluster goal support for backup Brent Johnson but still managed to get it done in a shootout after a third period rally by the Pens.  The Wild are still 0-8 on the road and have only mustered up 1.6 goals for and still allow 3.5 goals per game in their 8 road games.  The Pens, on the other hand, are 5-2 at home, have the third-best home defense at 2.0 goals allowed per game and they score an average of 3.1 goals per game.  Crosby is one of the hottest players in the league right now, with 16 points on the season, and is riding a 6 game point streak entering this game.  Marc-Andre Fleury, starting for the Pens, is 4-1 with a 1.80 GAA at home on the year.  This one appears to be a no brainer.
Pick: Pens -1.5 +155

Detroit Red Wings at Calgary Flames

If there’s one consistency with the Red Wings this season, it’s the inconsistency of their goaltending.  Howard defied supporters by allowing Edmonton to get a 5-1 lead before the halfway point in the game.  Mind you, he didn’t let in another goal until the shootout after that point but Detroit had nearly completely shut down the Oilers’ offense.  Give the Wings scorers credit, though.  They battled back in traditional Detroit style, sending the game to overtime and finally a shootout.  The Wings have gone over in two straight games – games their goalies have struggled very early on.  If there’s one thing the Flames know how to do, it’s score.  The Flames Over-Under on the season is 9-2 as they’ve managed to average 3.91 goals per game and still allow 3.27 goals per game.  The Flames should dominate the powerplay in this game as Detroit has a characteristic third-worst in the league 71.4% penalty kill and Calgary is the league’s best powerplay.  However, the Flames also have managed to muster the second-worst amount of shots on goal per game, at 25.6, compared to Detroit’s third-best 34.3 shots per game.  While Detroit allows 3.7 goals per game, third worst in the league, the only average about 29 shots against.  All I see here is offensive superiority and defensive struggles, 6 goals should be easy to come by.
Pick: Over 6.0 goals -125

Betting results by category so far this season:

  • Money Line 20-25, -19.66
  • Puck Line 5-10, -4.5
  • Totals 22-14-1, +2.28
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Matt Bennett is an original DailyFaceoff.com co-Founder. Feel free to reach Bennett directly @bennettdf.
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