Toronto Maple Leafs (+214) at Montreal Canadiens (-240 5 o/u)
With all the other noise going on in the sporting world, we haven’t had much of a chance to talk any NHL betting yet. And if there is one lesson we’re learning early in the 2015-16 season, it’s that the Montreal Canadiens (8-0) are money in the bank. Reigning NHL MVP Carey Price has picked up right where he left off last season and his Habs are the lone unbeaten squad left in the league. Montreal will try to run its record to 9-0 tonight when they are visited by long-time rivals the Toronto Maple Leafs (1-3-2) at the Bell Centre (7:00 PM Eastern).
The biggest question facing Montreal entering this season was where would goals come from. The offense last year relied heavily on Max Pacioretty, but this season, “Patches” has early company on the Habs goal leader board from Tomas Plekanec. Montreal leads the league in shots, generating nearly 35 per game, and as long as two of those get through, chances are they’re going to win the game; Price has a .966 save percentage and is only allowing one goal a game through six starts this year.
Toronto is offering really good value (+214) in this early season matchup, but it’s difficult to find any other reason to roll with them: the Leafs are a pretty terrible team, top to bottom. They have a brutal penalty kill (79-percent) and take an average of four penalties per game. Their leading scorer is Leo Komorov which tells you that they aren’t working with a ton of skill.
One area new head coach Mike Babcock has this group looking better in is the face-off circle, where the Leafs are winning 52.4-percent of the draws. But it sounds like Toronto will be without center Tyler Bozak for the game, which will only hurt those numbers.
If the Leafs are pulling off the upset, Jonathan Bernier needs to have an outstanding night. Still in search of his first win, Bernier has a modest 2.39 GAA and .924 save percentage, which were roughly the numbers he put up when Toronto lost the season opener to the Habs, 3-1, at home.
In fact, Montreal has won the last seven games between these two teams. So while they have to lose a game eventually, it won’t be this one. I can’t even recommend playing Toronto with the spread here.
Pick: Montreal (-240).
(Photo Credit: Lisa Gansky from New York, NY, USA (IMG_8259) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
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