NHL picks: 4 best bets for Canadiens vs Maple Leafs
Our NHL expert has picked out his four best bets as the Montreal Canadiens visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on opening night.
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Tie in regulation
These two teams have played each other extremely tightly over the last few seasons. Almost half of their games since 2016-17 have required overtime, with three Leafs wins and four Canadiens wins settled in extra time.
The Maple Leafs will be among the hungriest teams in the league coming into this season, eager to prove that they deserved better after once again failing to win a round of postseason hockey.
The Canadiens, however, swept the season series last year, and have got significantly better, bigger, and stronger since then.
Auston Matthews to score
Matthews has scored in all four of his season openers since he entered the league. He netted four goals in his first NHL game, followed by one the next year, and two in each of the last two seasons.
Couple that with Matthews having been an absolute terror against the Canadiens in his career – he has 12 goals in 15 games, scoring in eight of those 15 contests – and it looks a good bet to back one of the most talented goal scorers on the planet on Wednesday. He likes to start strong.
Over 5.5 total goals
The average NHL game last season saw an average of 6.02 goals scored – the fourth straight season in which scoring was up across the league. This was thanks in large part to a stylistic change where teams are looking to create better shooting opportunities with quicker puck movement instead of relying on point shots.
The Maple Leafs were one of the highest scoring teams in the league, netting an average of 3.4 goals per game.
The Canadiens weren’t as high scoring, but the Leafs aren’t great defensively and Montreal should be amped up to show what their new and improved forward group can accomplish.
Over 7.5 total 2-min penalties
The Canadiens and Maple Leafs were the 19th and 26th most penalized teams in the league last season, but this is the start of a 10-game season series between the best of the bunch in the new North Division.
Add in the fact that both teams have added some physicality on the blue line – T.J. Brodie for Toronto and Joel Edmundson for Montreal – as well as up front in Josh Anderson for the Habs and Wayne Simmonds for the Leafs, and it’s likely there’s going to be some chippy play.
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