The Toronto Maple Leafs are out in California for a west coast trip this weekend. Tonight they are in San Jose for a meeting with the Sharks. Last season I recall a trip to the west coast for the Leafs being a budding success, I’m being sarcastic there, as they lost three straight games. As it was, the Leafs tanked the rest of the season. They came back home after their vacation to California and then proceeded to lose all confidence and tanked the rest of the season. This Leafs team with Mike Babcock behind the bench will not fall into the no confidence zone. I feel that the Leafs will always be confident in themselves. When he was with the Red Wings, Babcock was always able to get the most out of his players, regardless of skill level. And let’s call it for what it is, right now the Leafs do not have much skill on the team. I mean from the top to the bottom, the Leafs are not at that level yet.
There are individual pieces, but overall the Leafs aren’t what I would necessarily call a skilled team at this point in time. However, Babcock has them focused and playing hard. The Leafs have a bright future ahead and this may very well be the worst season they have for the next several seasons. The organization gave the keys to the car to Babcock, it can only mean good things for the Leafs moving forward.
The Leafs got off to a very slow start record wise. They were playing hard, the puck just wasn’t finding the net. And in hockey, it doesn’t matter how hard you play, no goals will result in no wins. For the Leafs that is what was happening. In the shot department, they were doing pretty well there, more often than not out shooting the opposition. But it still wasn’t ending up in wins. The Leafs have been starting to find success there, though. They are currently have a .500 record at 16-16-3-4 and considering the goaltending issues they’ve had, the Leafs are doing just fine. The take on a Sharks team who is in the same boat with a record hovering around .500. They had so many opportunities for the greater part of the last ten years to do something in the playoffs. Always a talented team, but never were able to capitalize and even reach a Stanley Cup. The window is closing and is just about closed in San Jose. We’ll see how this one plays out tonight in San Jose, California.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. San Jose Sharks NHL Pick
Jonathan Bernier gets the call in net tonight for the Leafs, a guy who has faced a lot of criticism for his play in 2015-16. The criticism came with a good reason, he wasn’t performing at all and the Leafs were struggling with Reimer in net. The Leafs had no other choice but to go with Bernier. Injuries to Reimer and Garret Sparks left the Leafs feeling desperate. They even had to call in Ray Emery to fill out the Marlies. Reimer has played great hockey this season with a 1.79 GAA. He has made once start since coming back from injury. Tonight Bernier gets the nod.
Bernier has improved from earlier in the season. In the last three games he’s started, he allowed only 3 goals in total. His GAA has come down to 2.92 from 3.00+. Martin Jones will play opposite Bernier for the Sharks. Jones holds an okay GAA of 2.50. Defensively the Sharks are 24th in the NHL, giving up an average of 2.84 goals per game. Price wise this game doesn’t make much sense. The Sharks should not be laying -140 upwards of -155 at some books, against a Leafs team who I think are on the rise. They have also own a putrid record at home with a 6-12-0 record. I see the value on the Leafs tonight.
PICK: LEAFS TO WIN +120