Last night the Leafs miraculously ended their lengthy losing streak against the Boston Bruins, and as a result dropped our record to 28-15 on the year with our featured picks. We ‘ve enjoyed much success in bounce-back situations this year, so let’s hope Sunday treats us kindly. Tonight’s game focuses on a depleted Vancouver Canucks squad as they take on one of the coldest teams in the league, the Colorado Avalanche.
Vancouver Canucks (-140) @ Colorado Avalanche (+120)
Though some may perceive this to be a typical letdown spot for the Canucks after securing a huge victory over their rivals, the L.A. Kings yesterday, this is a veteran group that knows how to win. That is how this team has stayed afloat in recent weeks even without some of their top players. Vancouver is primed to retake their division crown and catch Minnesota, and they’re well aware that every point from here on out is imperative.
They will be taking on an Avalanche team that is also in a back-to-back situation, and one that seems lost in all facets of the game. The hockey world is buzzing right now with the firing of Lightning coach Guy Boucher, and Colorado’s bench boss, Joe Sacco, cannot be far behind. Despite the lofty expectations and talent for this roster, things have been abysmal in Denver. They have dropped five of their past six contests, and have shown minimal signs of competing in their recent outings. Their defensive play is comical right now, and Semyon Varlamov is really struggling between the pipes. Making matters worse for the Avs is the fact that their back-up goalie, Jean-Sebastien Giguere recently called out his teammates after last night’s defeat and says their preparation for games has been awful.
Though Vancouver enters tonight’s contest depleted, they do have the organizational depth and goaltending to overcome for their injuries. Alex Edler will still be out due to suspension, but Colorado’s captain, Gabriel Landeskog is also expected to miss tonight’s affair. Vancouver has dominated their Northwest Division rivals in recent years, and especially last season, when they won all six games vs. Colorado, outscoring them by a 13-goal margin. They’ve won eight straight overall, and sixteen of their last eighteen, including seven of the past eight in Colorado. That is domination, and expect a veteran-laden Canucks group to keep accumulating points. Vancouver has a chance to re-take the division lead after tonight’s game, and don’t expect them to take that lightly. At a generous -140 price, consider the Canucks tonight.
PICK = Vancouver (-140)
One bonus pick for tonight. We won Saturday evening with the Blues, so why not go back to them again tonight in a similar situation? The bonus picks enter the evening 27-24 on the year.
Bonus Pick #1: St. Louis (-130) The Blues have started to figure it out and are once again rolling. They’re playing every game like they did last year, and their team defence and goaltending is one again elite. They have gotten healthy with star forward T.J. Oshie returning to the line-up and expect them to rout a Flames team that hasn’t been playing well at all lately. Calgary has to be distracted by these impending Jarome Iginla trade rumours, and look for the Blues to capitalize on this. As slight road favourites, look for the Blues to step up once again, and secure another big two points.