After another nail-biting winner at The Sports Geek we enter a new week with a stellar 12-4 record on our featured selections. Tonight’s contest features a game loaded with intrigue between two teams that are rolling at the moment. Luke Schenn and his Philadelphia Flyers take their act north of the border to do battle with the red-hot Toronto Maple Leafs.
Philadelphia Flyers (-110) @ Toronto Maple Leafs (-110)
While I can understand why this line is a pick’em, despite Philadelphia’s sluggish start, the Flyers have rebounded and are clearly the better squad here. The Leafs have struggled at home in 2013, going 1-4 in the Air Canada Centre, and will be dealing with an inspired Flyers squad Monday night. Philly has many players from the Ontario-area, all of whom should be raring to go to play in front of friends and family in the city of Toronto.
The Leafs are typically sluggish in front of their hometown fans, typically adopting a style unfamiliar to them. On the road, they adopt a workmanlike approach and get the job done, however at home they seem to play nervous, scared, and lose that swagger they have away from Toronto. The Leafs have been playing well of late, but young teams are wildly inconsistent. A few weeks back, the Leafs dismantled the Penguins in their home-opener but followed that win up with a brutal home loss to the lowly Islanders. Expect a similar type of outing from the Buds tonight.
The Flyers began the season somewhat sluggish, but have fended off the injury bug and should be able to have their way with the Leafs tonight. Toronto appeared tough in Montreal, but taking on the Flyers’ blend of size, toughness, and skill will be a challenge for an inexperienced Leafs’ defensive group. Carl Gunnarsson and Jake Gardiner remain away from the team, leaving career-AHLers in Korbinian Holzer and Mike Kostka to fill the void. Though they’ve done reasonably well, taking on Claude Giroux and Danny Briere will not be easy.
This is the first meeting between these teams this season, and the first since the big off-season trade between the teams that saw James van Riemsdyk head to Toronto, for Luke Schenn. The trade has benefitted both sides in the first quarter of the season, but should add some extra intrigue to tonight’s clash.
Ilya Bryzgalov has bounced back from a horrid campaign in 2012, and has provided the Flyers with excellent goaltending thus far. While the Flyers’ defense leaves something to be desired, they should push the pace for much of this contest. The Flyers forwards are as deep as any group in the league, and if the Leafs are missing Joffrey Lupul, Mike Brown, and potentially Mikhail Grabovski, the Leafs may not be able to keep up with the Flyers. At a generous pick’em price, expect a sub-par Leafs effort and a big Flyers road victory.
PICK = Philadelphia (-110)
Bonus Pick #1: Carolina Hurricanes (-110) At a pick’em price take the superior Hurricanes to knock off the Islanders. New York is starting maligned netminder Rick DiPietro who doesn’t play much anymore, and when he does, it usually doesn’t end well. New York has been overachieving, and with the Canes rounding into form, they’re great value tonight on Long Island.
Bonus Pick #2: Minnesota Wild (-110) The Flames look lost without their leader between the pipes in Miika Kiprusoff. Despite the fact Minny has had trouble scoring of late, look for an outbreak of sorts in Alberta. This line-up possesses too much talent and skill to go stagnant and should produce a lot of chances against a bad Calgary team. Star forward Mike Cammalleri is also on the IR for the Flames which only complicates matters. Big things are expected from the Wild in 2013, and the pressure is on to get rolling. Look for a big road win tonight in Calgary.