Calling all my lady bettors, it’s time to get out your lucky jerseys and check out the games on tap tonight, that will help you make the perfect bet, so you can go out and get more NHL paraphernalia! Our best bet tonight focuses on two teams who are dominating their conferences and should make for a great, high impact and scoring game that will deliver on all levels. Don’t miss it, and why not put a fin down on it?
The Sharks are in hockey Mecca tonight for the one visit this year, to face off against the wily and speedy Maple Leafs, who are on an upward climb to the top of the Eastern conference. The Leafs have already played and beaten the Sharks in the Shark Tank on their California road trip, and will look to take the season series tonight. San Jose will want revenge on them, and desperately need a win, after losing in OT to the Buffalo Sabres last night, after a tough fought game.
There are some characters too on both teams that will make watching and betting on these two teams, so much fun. If you missed it, early in 2018, on January 4th, the roughneck Nazem Kadri on Toronto, and grizzly veteran, Joe Thornton, got off on the wrong foot and ended up in a scrap which resulted in a big chunk of Joe’s beard being left on the ice. You can see it here, the fight last seconds, but that huge scruff of hair on the ice, revealed just how much animosity the two felt. Joe is a big man, and toppled Kadri over, but not before he got a piece out of him, literally.
When the Leafs visited earlier this month, tensions boiled over and the whole Sharks team it seemed like were out for revenge on Kadri. They hunted him down and made his life very difficult even though the incident with Joe happened 10 months ago. That shows you how long hockey players memories are. They lost that game though, losing their focus looking to pound Kadri and got several penalties that the Leafs capitalized on. San Joe’s Barclay Goodrow told media after that game:
“[Kadri] chose to fight Jumbo last year off of the opening face-off,” Goodrow told reporters after the Shark’s 5-3 loss, “who quite frankly shouldn’t have to do that. So, I thought I would try to return the favor.”
Kadri after that win told media that it was unintentional. He told reporters he thought that fight caused the immediate tension. “I’m not quite sure why they were still so bitter about it, especially when he’s the one [who] initiated it with me, so it’s not like I went out looking for it. … I kind of knew they were pretty agitated from the start, and I figured I’d run with that.”
Tonight those tensions could boil over again as the two teams match up for the last time this season, unless they meet in the Stanley Cup final, of course. San Joe is doing pretty well at (12-8-5) and if they want to add to that record will need to have a short memory and a quick rebound tonight so they can beat the (17-8-0) Maple Leafs, who are going to be excited to play, with the possible return of their star player Auston Matthews from a shoulder injury.
The Leafs have done pretty well without him though going 9-5-0 in his absence and they’ve been in a steady third place position in the Atlantic Division, right behind the Tampa Bay Lighting and the surprise division leading Buffalo Sabres. They have been consistent and performed well and have shown patience, by taking very few penalties. The Sharks on the other hand are consistently inconsistent. They don have a good or bad streak, one night they find their game and on another they fail. Many think they still have to play a steady 60 minutes but it’s going to be hard and unlikely that it will start tonight in Toronto.
Also one ex-Shark will have the chance to make an impact. Patrick Marleau will always be considered a Shark by most, but he looks good as a Leaf. On Monday night against the Bruins he celebrated his 1,600th career game so tonight will be 1,601 against his ex-team that he spent most of his career with and where his family calls home. He’s an iron-man skating in 733 consecutive games and he’s 39 and still able to skate and score! Leaf’s coach Mike Babcock spewed compliments on the aging star when asked how Marleau has helped in the development of young star players like Matthews and Mitch Marner.
“You mean like [Kasperi Kapanen] and everyone you’re not hearing about?” Babcock told Sportsnet’s Luke Fox. “Like, everybody. Or any trainer or any coach or anybody who would look like they might be tired that day. Or, I mean, just anybody. He makes you a flat-out better human being just by walking by you.”
Tonight might be the last time he ever plays his ex-team again, even though he’s got one more year in his contract, this late in the game, you never know. And that will be motivation enough for Marleau to hook up Matthews and make sure they both get points tonight in a home game that will see the return of one star, and possibly close out a chapter for the other. No doubt it will have tons of meaning to both.
Pick: Toronto wins, under 6 goals
Moneyline: San Jose Sharks +130 / Toronto Maple Leafs -150