In what will be a well watched hockey game tonight, the Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs tangle on HNIC at the ACC in Toronto. The Maple Leafs need all of the points they can get, as they are currently fighting for playoff contention. The Leafs stand at 78 points, which equates to barely clinging on to the final wildcard seed.
The Islanders and Lightning are ready to pounce though, as they’re only 1 point behind the Leafs. In other words, I can see the playoff picture shaping up the final two days of the regular season. There’s only been a point or two separating the final wildcard, and that shouldn’t change much between now and then.
The Maple Leafs have a stingy test this evening, with the Blackhawks rolling into town on Saturday night. Toronto will have the home crowd on their side in what is a big game for them tonight. Winners of four of their last three games, the Leafs are welcoming a Hawks team who are on a three-game winning streak. They have wins against the Wild, Canadiens, and Senators. Those aren’t gimme wins, so the Blackhawks have made the most of it. Note that they have been one of the hottest teams in the league since early February.
Since February 2nd, the Blackhawks have lost only three games, against the Red Wings, Ducks, and Oilers. It would be a nice way for the Leafs to pick up some steam and maybe a little bit of breathing room with a win over the Blackhawks tonight. Our pick last night came across as a winner thanks to a late empty netter courtesy of Sidney Crosby. We’re back tonight looking for another winning pick to continue our profitable year in the NHL. Head below for the pick.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Toronto Maple Leafs Pick
A lot of what transpires the rest of the season for the Leafs is going to come down to Frederik Andersen. If he plays like a wall, like the Maple Leafs brought him to Toronto to do, the Leafs should be in the playoffs. However, if he goes through a poor stretch, which he’s shown he is capable of doing, then forget about it.
The Maple Leafs are going to score goals. The question here is whether the defence can find a way to help out. I must say, they’ve improved, and Andersen is on the verge of a 0.92 save percentage after a rough start, but there are some things that have to change.
The Leafs rank 21st in the NHL in goals against, which is in improvement from the first two months of the regular season. They have allowed 2.70 goals per game in their last ten games. Toronto have to fend off a hot Chicago offence, hot as ever since early February. In six of their last ten games, they have netted at least four goals or more. Since then they’ve averaged 3.94 goals per game. In their last ten games, they have scored 3.20 goals on average. The Maple Leafs come in at 6th in the league in goals per game. I like this to be an exciting one on HNIC Saturday night. There should be a healthy dose of goals, which should help us cash the OVER on our Blackhawks vs. Maple Leafs pick.
PICK: OVER 5.5 GOALS (-110)