NHL picks: 4 best bets for Leafs vs Canadiens
Our NHL expert has picked out his four best bets as the Montreal Canadiens host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night.
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Toronto Maple Leafs to win
The Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens will play four more times before the season is up. The Leafs own the better record in the season series with a 4-2-0 mark over the Habs.
Montreal seems to have a decent enough cushion to hold onto their playoff spot, but these games against Toronto are crucial to pick up some points.
Toronto is going to enter this game with three days between games, which is a luxury at this stage of the season. In instances where they’ve had three or more days between games, they’re 3-1-0.
Montreal, meanwhile, is coming off a stretch where they played five games over eight days in Western Canada. Returning home will be welcome, but they could be road weary after going 2-3-0 against the Oilers and Flames.
Montreal is also without Carey Price for the foreseeable future, which is going to make things even more challenging for them as they have to lean more heavily on Jake Allen, who is 1-1 in his two starts against Toronto this season.
The Maple Leafs are averaging more than four goals per game when on longer rest. This could be a long night for Montreal as a result.
Auston Matthews to score anytime
The NHL’s leading goalscorer is sitting on 34 goals at the moment. He was held off the score sheet in his last game, but otherwise has scored 13 goals in his last 14 games.
He has four in six games against Montreal so far this season and has netted at least once in three of the six games between these two teams. There is only one team Matthews has scored more goals against than Montreal.
When there’s value to be had on the league’s best goalscorer in this particular matchup, I’m going to take a chance on him.
Over 59.5 total shots on goal
The two teams have put up over 59.5 shots on goal in three of their six contests this season.
One of the little wrinkles to this game, however, is that the Habs have added promising rookie Cole Caufield to their lineup. He had four shots on goal by himself in his first NHL game and you should expect him to shoot it a lot more as he was the leading goalscorer in college hockey this year and isn’t afraid to shoot it from anywhere.
Having a volume generator like Caufield on top of the expected barrage from the Maple Leafs makes me a lot more comfortable to go over this lofty number.
Under 5.5 total 2-minute penalties
The Habs and Leafs have played some pretty clean games this year. The first one was ugly in terms of penalties, but ever since it’s been a bit quieter.
The Habs can’t afford to take a ton of penalties in a game they’d like to win to keep some distance between them and the field, while the Maple Leafs are essentially just having to get through these next few weeks without injury to prepare for the playoffs.
I don’t know if this game is going to have the intensity of some normal games, just as both teams could be playing it a bit more cautious.
In three of the last four games between the two teams there were four penalties or fewer called.
#BETYOURWAY: Toronto to win, Matthews to score anytime, over 59.5 shots on goal, under 5.5 2-min penalties
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