Wednesday night is rivalry night in the NHL! It’s a great night to take a mid-week break and watch some chippy fun on the ice. On tap is a great game between rivals who though don’t see each other often, their fan bases trade barbs and tons of hate, so even if there is no meaning in the standings, they’ll be fighting tonight for Canadian bragging rights.
Toronto vs. Vancouver
The Maple Leafs (41-21-4) are walking into Van city, after spanking the impressive Calgary Flames 6-2, the first on a three-game Western Canadian road swing. And though this game doesn’t mean much in terms of standings to the Canucks (27-30-9) , since they’ve fallen out of playoff contention, there is a lot of face to save since it’s possible that half the arena will be wearing the visiting team’s blue and white.
But there is a lot of room here for anything to happen since many teams bring their best game against the Toronto juggernaut. Despite having lots of offence and firepower, Toronto is weak on the back end, considering that they have some key defensemen out and injuries piling up at the wrong time of the year. Every point is valuable as the Leafs fight for position in their division, and Vancouver tonight can play the spoiler. Morgan Rielly is a B.C. boy and so should be very comfortable in his own backyard, which means he could have his defenses down and the Canucks could use that to their advantage. Also new acquisition, Nic Petan, who is from Delta, B.C. is also in the lineup, and so many are excited to so local talent being showcased in a visit that happens only once a year.
Josh Leivo, who was traded to Vancouver earlier this year, who couldn’t break the Leaf lineup might also be looking for revenge, so look for him to be extra motivated to show the ex-coach, Mike Babcock, exactly what they passed up on. Leivo missed the Canucks lone visit to Toronto on January 5th with back spasms. He’ll try to help his team’s three-game losing skid, after being shutout for the ninth time this season on Sunday in Las Vegas , when they fell 3-0 to the Golden Knights, against whom they had only 19 shots while facing 48.
The Leafs no doubt have top end talent and lots of depth, too. When you take a closer look, they’ve got nine scorers who’ve reached the 30 point mark on the season already. The Canucks, only have three. But that doesn’t matter sometimes when you’ve got a heated rivalry of East vs. West, and so the Canucks might just play their best game of the season. It’s worth betting on for sure!
Pick: Vancouver wins, 6 plus goals
Moneyline: Toronto Maple Leafs -185 / Vancouver Canucks +166