The Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens played in a close one last night, with John Tavares putting an end to the festivities with a nifty backhand over the shoulder of Carey Price in overtime. It’s two big points for the Leafs, who are now 2nd in the Eastern Conference. Finishing 2nd is likely the best-case scenario for the Leafs.
Catching the Lightning is going to be awfully tough, but I suppose there is a lot of time left. Tampa currently owns a stranglehold in the Eastern Conference with a sizable lead over the Leafs by 13 points. They’ve built up such a big lead that I don’t know if a cold streak for a week or two is going to matter.
Getting on the score sheet last night as well was William Nylander. He scored the tying goal in the 3rd period on a slick shot past Price. That goal was all Nylander, as he’s been showing signs of life lately. If he can catch fire in the playoffs, the Leafs are going to be a tough out. Nylander is definitely playing more confidently and the positive results are starting to shine through for him.
Getting big goals from Tavares and Nylander is what the Leafs are paying them for. Frederik Andersen didn’t have his best night at the office, but he’s bailed the team out more than on a few occasions this season. It’s nice to play for an offence that can return the favour as well.
Backup Garret Sparks is expected to be between the pipes for the Leafs in NYC on Sunday. Expect Henrik Lundqvist to counter for the Rangers. The Rangers are coming off a 3-0 loss to the Hurricanes. We’ll see if they can handle the hot scoring Maple Leafs at MSG on Sunday. Get our free Maple Leafs vs. Rangers pick.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. N.Y. Rangers Pick
The Rangers have been such a difficult team to get a handle on. There are a few teams in the NHL this season that have been hit and miss, the Rangers being one of the leading candidates in that regard. They went into this season without too many expectations. It was well known that the Rangers were heading into a rebuilding era and wanted to dismantle their roster this season. Players usually don’t respond to management that wants to go in that direction.
However, some guys on this team have done the Rangers’ favours, as they’ve bolstered their stock in the trading market. Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes may be the most likely to get moved, but there could be others as well. While we’ve seen some good out of the Rangers this season, there’s also been the ugly like that display against the Hurricanes on Friday. The last time they played that poorly, the Rangers responded with a 4-3 win over the Devils. Expect a much better effort after falling flat against the Canes on Friday.
They will have to find a way to counter a Toronto offence that have been flying around the ice in the last few games. They enter on a three-game winning streak, scoring 15 goals in their previous three outings. In their last ten games, the Maple Leafs have notched 3.4 goals per game and allowed 3.1 goals.
Meanwhile, the Rangers scored 3 goals per game, while allowing 3.1 in their own zone. Both teams are in the back half of the NHL in the shots against department. The Leafs are 25th with 32.7 shots allowed and the Rangers have surrendered 32.5 for 23rd.
With backup Sparks more than likely in net for the Leafs, expect the Rangers to find some of those shots to get behind him. This is his first appearance against the Rangers in his career. The Rangers have the Leafs in a good spot after they earned an overtime win against a rival last night. However, betting against a team like the Leafs who have been scoring at will is tough. I don’t see it slowing down against a pedestrian Rangers’ defence. Look for a good matchup that results in a winning bet on the OVER.