The Guide to Thursday

1….2….3 in a row I say?

Toronto Maple Leafs v. Tampa Bay Lightning (@Air Canada Centre; Toronto, Ontario)

Toronto is looking hotter than ever and is looking at this one as a must win to clinch a playoff berth and target the last 2 games as a way to move up to a potential 2 seed in the Atlantic division.  With the young talent of Nylander, Matthews and Marner this team looks fresh and energetic every game.  The Leafs are (7-2-1) in their last 10 while the lightning have been (5-4-1) in their last 10.  The last time these two met on March 16th the Leafs won 5-0; Vasilevskiy was yanked after allowing 4 goals on 15 shots while Andersen posted a 33 save shutout. Vasilevskiy will be in net for the Lightning and he has been all but good on the road with a (7-8-3) record.  On the other end of the ice Frederik Andersen has been red hot since the beginning of March posting a (9-1-2) record with a .923 save percentage.  Playoff atmosphere will be intense for a Toronto home town who hasn’t seen their beloved Leafs in the playoffs since 2013.  Roll with the young guns with their first taste of serious playoff atmosphere to pull ahead of Tampa Bay and win this one.

PICK: Toronto Maple Leafs to win in regulation. (+110)



The Guide to Friday

Canadiens really shit the bed on us last night. Time to move forward.

Anaheim Ducks v. Winnipeg Jets (@Honda Center; Anaheim, CA)

Winnipeg is coming into its 3rd game in 4 days after looking slow last night and getting blown out by a Kings team who has troubles putting the puck in the net 5-2.  Winnipeg also leads the league in penalties, and as you know – tired teams take more penalties.  Jets have taken 256 penalties in 74 games (3.5 penalties a game) and even better; they’re 29th on the PK at a pretty bad 76.2% kill percentage.  Anaheim is on a 2 game win streak and is the 5th best team at home (24-8-4) and (7-2-1) in last 10.  The Jets are also without top defenseman Tyler Myers, backup goalie Ondrej Pavelec, and other top players Jacob Trouba and Tobias Enstrom.  The tables are already turned on a mediocre away team who is (15-16-6) on the road and (5-4-1) in their last 10.  The last meeting between these two sides ended 3-2 Ducks in Winnipeg.  With a win here, Anaheim could tie for #1 in the Pacific. For a team like Winnipeg whos goalies don a .897 save pct collectively and give up a leagues 3rd worst 3.19 GA/G, this is not a good looking spot. The Ducks are great at keeping the rubber out of the net in the Honda center and rank a 2nd best in NHL 2.09 GA/G at home. The Jets also have the issue at the goaltender spot, do they start Hellebuyck again (when goalies playing in back to back games put up significantly worse numbers)? Or do they go with Hutchinson (who has a sub .900 save percentage so far this season)? Either option is great for the Ducks; ride them to an easy win here.

PICK: Anaheim Ducks to win in regulation. (-135)


The Guide to Thursday

Lets keep it alive with some more NHL action while soccer remains dead.

Montreal Canadiens v. Carolina Hurricanes (@ Centre Bell; Montreal, Canada)

Despite Carolina’s recent success (or what seems like success) it is still a very easy spot to target a home Montreal Canadiens team.  Carolina is still the 6th worst team in hockey on the road with a god awful (10-17-9) record.  Although Carolina has been 6-1-3 in their last 10, when you take a closer look you see that 3 of those wins were against expansion level teams.  Two were against Colorado and Arizona and the third trash win was against an Islanders team on the road starting Jean-François Bérubé who consistently puts up sub .900 save percentages.  This 6-1-3 does not reflect their ability to take a road game v. an incredibly hot Carey Price in the Bell Centre.  The Canadiens are 7-2-1 in their last 10 and look to stomp on the Canes’ who will be playing their 4th game in 6 days.  Now a little bit on the goaltending match-up: Price stopped 30 of 31 shots in the Canadiens’ win over the Senators on Sunday. Price has been impressive, going 6-1-0 with a 1.55 GAA and .942 SV% in seven March starts (Via. John Lu – TSN).  Lack allowed two goals on 29 shots in the Hurricanes’ win over the Predators last Saturday. He has won his last two starts while allowing just three goals on 57 shots (.950 SV%) (Via. Amanda Stein – TSN).

PICK: Montreal Canadiens to win in regulation (-110)

Cam Ward, Brian Gionta, Bobby Sanguinetti


The Guide to Monday

After a brief St. Patty’s Day absence, lets get back on track.

Toronto Maple Leafs v. Boston Bruins (@ Air Canada Centre; Toronto, Canada)

After looking at this slate tonight there is no doubt that this will be the best game tonight, with the Bruins a game in hand and 3 points up on the Maple Leafs both teams will be scratching and clawing at points in these last 11 or 12 games. The Leafs have not made the playoffs since 2013 and sit in the 2nd wild card spot to the Rangers, however this game plays a huge swing for them as they could steal 2 potential points from the Bruins while adding to their point total as well overall leading to a 4 point swing for either side tonight with how the playoff picture is looking. What’s interesting about this fixture is the goaltending matchup.  Frederik Andersen has gone 4-1-2 with a 1.99 GAA and .940 SV% in seven March starts and tonight he faces the Bruins for the fourth time—he is 3-0-0 with a 2.33 GAA and .929 SV% in the first three (via. CSN’s Joe Haggerty). Rask was pulled after he allowed five goals on 17 shots in the Bruins’ loss in Edmonton last Thursday. Despite the rough loss, Rask is expected to start both games of the Bruins’ key back-to-back on Monday and Tuesday. Rask is 0-1-0 with a 4.69 GAA And .788 SV% in two starts against the Maple Leafs this season (via. TSN’s Mark Masters). In the tendency of streakiness when it comes to goaltending, this is a great target match-up for a great line with a home team in need of a win and the playoffs on the line.

PICK: Toronto Maple Leafs to win (Even)