Saturday night is always a great night for a weekend bet, and after a long week of work and monotonous tasks, why not have some fun and bet one two original six teams that will surely wow you, as they duke it out between divisions. We’ll have two great goalies matching up tonight, so either it will be a tight game with lots of chances the goaltenders shutdown, or it will be a circus with tons of goals and fancy footwork the two teams are known for. Exciting odds with great potential for a big win tonight!
The Rangers will be coming into Toronto to face a powerhouse team who just blew out their last two opponents. They’ll be coming in wary of the Leafs revamped power play and the loud fans who’ll be hootin’ and hollerin’ on a Saturday night at the Scotiabank Arena made for original six hockey.
The Leafs have resurfaced after sinking their powerplay going 0-for-17 with the man advantage in their last four games. Something woke them up or coach Mike Babcock put some fire under their asses, because on Thursday against the Florida Panthers they went 3-for-3 and beat them convincingly 6-1 at home.
“I don’t think there was any sense of panic,” said Maple Leafs’ John Tavares to local media, who put the puck in the net twice, with one sunk on the powerplay. “We just tried to fine-tune, refocus, look at some things, get some practice time, some good video sessions, talk about it and sometimes you just get some better bounces and get rewarded. Overall, got some good results there and obviously, want to carry it forward.”
But that does not mean that storied New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist will not have something to say about that. A positive note for the Rangers is that they were 5-for-5 killing penalties and even got a short-handed goal which ended up being the game-winner this past Tuesday when they beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-1. They can be dangerous and are tied for fourth in the league with five short-handed goals. So the Leafs might have to be wary.
“Listen, we haven’t felt great about ourselves for a while,” Rangers coach David Quinn said to media after his team scored three third-period goals against the Ducks. “It’s been duly noted that we’ve been in a little bit of a spiral here; we’ve blown some leads; we’ve played some good hockey, but not good enough, and found ways to lose. But tonight was a feel-good moment for us. We didn’t play great in the first two, we didn’t play poorly; it was a very ‘blah’ hockey game, I thought, for two periods. And to be able to overcome the first two periods and play with the purpose and the pace that we did, a little bit of an edge to our game, is a testament to our guys and the mental aspect of this game.”
This game is the first of the season, out of three meetings this year with two being held in Toronto. New York is 15-13-5 overall and not too good on the road with a 4-9-2 record. The Maple Leafs are an impressive 23-10-2 with a solid 10-5-1 home record. Last year the Leafs swept the Rangers but they had won six of the past 10 games between them going back to Feb. 15, 2015.
The Maple Leafs team is gelling well, with budding superstar Auston Matthews getting two goals and two assists on Thursday, and upcoming D-man Morgan Rielly matching his career best with four assists, two notched on the powerplay. He told local media that he felt as if the extra practices with the man advantage has definitely paid off. “Yeah, I think so,” the defenseman said. “We were dry there for a bit and when you go through tough slump like that, you’ve just got to work through it. That’s all it was. We worked on it a lot in practice and we felt good. It was just a matter of time, so we were happy with it tonight.”
The only negative for the Leafs will be going without Zach Hyman for the next three-four weeks after he sprained his ankle against New Jersey.
“We didn’t know for sure; it’s Hyman so he didn’t complain about anything and he kept playing anyway (Tuesday),” Babcock said pre-game. “He got the slew foot there in New Jersey (in the 7-2 Toronto win) and went into the boards, hurt his ankle, kept playing. We thought — he tried to go (Thursday) and we thought he was playing (against the Panthers). Obviously, it’s like anything, you get an opportunity for someone else. He’s a real important part of our team because he’s so heavy. We don’t have enough heavy guys and he’s one of those guys. So, that hurts us that way to be heavy in the offensive zone. Someone else gets an opportunity, someone else gets an opportunity on the penalty kill and we’ll end up being better for it.”
The Leafs are now at home, comfy and all tucked in before the holidays begin, and it’s also the first of a back-to-back, so it just might be the perfect opportunity for the Rangers to get a leg up if they start fast and strong against Toronto, and get the win. Toronto has been known to start slow and then pick up in the third period, so there is a good chance if Lundqvist makes some key saves in the first, the Rangers have a chance to pull off a wee upset and bettors have a chance to make some serious cash on these fat odds.
Pick: Leafs win, 6 plus goals
Moneyline: New York Rangers +215 / Toronto Maple Leafs -250