We reeled off yet another featured selection winner on Monday night, and now move to 30-15 on the year here at The Sports Geek. We’ve won seven of our past night featured picks on the site, and will look to improve our record with a shocking underdog winner on Tuesday evening. Tonight’s game features a depleted Florida Panthers squad travelling to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs.
Florida Panthers (+145) @ Toronto Maple Leafs (-165)
We have typically only focused on games listed at near pick’em prices for our featured picks in 2013, but tonight we will veer away from that strategy. The Panthers represent tremendous value in this contest, and despite being a heavily depleted group, they still possess enough talent to knock off what many believe is a fragile Leafs squad.
It is important to note that Toronto has greatly exceeded expectations thus far this season, and entering this contest they have to be feeling pretty content with themselves. Finding a way to secure three of a possible four points against a solid Boston Bruins team is quite the impressive feat, and expect a huge letdown from the Leafs in what is a difficult back-to-back situation. Toronto’s game ran late last night as it went into a shootout, while the Panthers were sitting waiting for them in Toronto. It’s a dangerous position for the Leafs, and expect Florida to capitalize on this tonight.
Though Florida enters this contest as one of the more banged-up squads in the league, they recent got key defenceman Dmitry Kulikov back, as well as gritty forward Scottie Upshall. Both players are hugely important to Florida’s success, and they could cause problems for the Leafs tonight. Add in the fact that promising young goaltender, Jacob Markstrom has been very good of late, and it’s quite possible the Buds struggle to put numbers on the board tonight. Markstrom has been amazing in his past three starts, allowing just one goal in each of those contests. He is one of the more highly touted young prospects in the sport, and don’t be surprised if he steals one in Toronto tonight. At a +145 price for a rested group, Markstrom and his Panthers definitely warrant serious consideration.
Toronto traditionally struggles at home on weeknight against inferior opponents. For whatever the reason, the Leafs simply cannot match the intensity of road teams in spots like this, and as a result have a poor record at the Air Canada Centre. Expect Toronto to struggle for much of this game, and though they obtained three points against the Bruins, they were absolutely dominated for the majority of those two contests. It is also expected that the red-hot James Reimer will get a break between the pipes, and back-up Ben Scrivens will fill-in. Scrivens, while capable, is playing nowehere near the level Reimer is at, and has a knack of giving up some bad goals at key times. Don’t be surprised to see that derail the Leafs’ recent run of promising play. Consider a Panthers team that should be motivated to play under the spotlight in Toronto, and as big underdogs they’re certainly great value in a favourable spot.
PICK = Florida (+145)
Just one bonus pick going tonight. They enter the evening an average 28-25 thus far in 2013 so tread carefully.
Bonus Pick #1: Washington (-140) I’m not sure what forced a turnaround in Washington, but they are playing much better hockey of late. After a brutal start to the 2013 campaign, the Caps are red-hot, and pushing hard for a play-off position, or perhaps even the divisional crown. Brooks Laich and Mike Green have been solid upon their returns from injuries, and after wins in four of their past five, the Caps seem to have found their game. The Islanders are heading in another direction it would seem, and have started to fade. New York has dropped three of their past four, and as the games start increasing in importance, expect this young and inexperienced group to fade down the stretch. Caps should roll tonight.