The New York Rangers pay a visit to the streaking Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night at the Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs are playing like a team with a different kind of attitude and emphasis in their step in 2016-17. The five-year plan for Mike Babcock is in full effect, with the Leafs jumping the gun and looking like a team that could not only make the playoffs, but be a force in the postseason. It was a slow start for them, yet they are situated in a playoff spot at the moment, 3rd in the Atlantic. The goaltending in Toronto especially got off to a rather lethargic start for the Leafs. They acquired Frederik Andersen in the offseason from the Ducks, who didn’t look to be the answer in the early stages of the season. He looked nothing more than another Finnish goalie like Vesa Toskala. Toskala came from out west in California to Toronto and was a major bust. So, when Andersen started to struggle there was this feeling of oh no here we go again.
Andersen has settled down, though, and is turning into a budding star with the Leafs. Best of all, he’s getting tons of help from his offence. The Leafs have what I say is the most talented young core in the NHL. There aren’t going to be many people that dispute that with me. Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner are going to be a duo you’ll hear about for a long time. The likes of Doug Gilmour and Wendel Clark are hard to live up to, but it almost feels like Matthews and Marner have a legendary Leaf pairing brewing in Toronto. The future looks bright with this team, and it’s been looking bright of late. They are winners in eight of their last ten games, including a three-game winning streak they’re on at the moment. The Rangers will look to put an end to that, and end to the three-game losing streak they are on. It all goes down tonight in Toronto at the ACC. Let’s get to the pick.
The offence has been hard to slow down in Toronto. They’ve been tickling the twine at a pretty effective rate. They’ve scored 12 goals in their last three games, 4 in each, with an average of 3.80 goals scored in their last ten games. There have been no signs of them slowing up. The Leafs were recently able to elude the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, earning a 4-2 win which was kind enough to us to give us a win on the OVER. The total in this one is set at 6.5. Totals of 6.5 in the NHL were a little more commonplace over five years ago, but these days with scoring slowing down, this is a rare occurrence in sports betting. There should be plenty of goals tonight, that much is true.
The Rangers have averaged 4.30 goals across their last ten games. The problem for them has been their defence, though. Note that they’ve allowed 4.10 goals per game in their last ten as well. So, while the offence has been coming a rapid pace, they’ve nearly given it all back in their own end. Their last debacle on defence came the other night against the Dallas Stars, a 7-6 loss. They also gave up 5 goals to the Canadiens in a 5-4 loss. They are 1st in the NHL, though, with 3.47 goals scored per game. I think the Rangers and Leafs trade wins. The Leafs took the last one, but I could see the Rangers getting a win back tonight and snapping out of their mini-funk. The kids have a bit of an off night against the Rangers.
PICK: RANGERS TO WIN +105