The Thrashers are just two points out of the final playoff spot, and they are looking to avenge an OT home loss to the Leafs last week. Toronto is still in last place in the East.
The Atlanta Thrashers are just two points out of a playoff spot, and although the last place Toronto Maple Leafs may be the hottest team in the Eastern Conference right now, we feel compelled to back the Thrashers as underdogs in a must-win situation.
The Thrashers are also seeking revenge for a 2-1 overtime home loss to the Leafs last week, when both goaltenders, Ondrej Pavelec of the Thrashers and Jonas Gustavsson for Toronto, were virtually impenetrable. Both goalies are expected to be back in net tonight, so this could be another tight battle.
While that in itself gives Atlanta good value at this price, consider also that the Thrashers have actually played better on the road than at home lately, perhaps not feeling as much playoff pressure away from their home fans. While they have lost three straight home games, the Thrashers have beaten the Carolina Hurricanes 4-0 and the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1 in their last two road contests.
Granted, the Leafs are 8-2-1 in their last nine games, and Gustavsson is 7-0 with a 1.93 GAA in his last seven starts. Still, this appears to have made the Leafs overvalued in this spot, considering that they are still last in the conference with 69 points. Yes, they have beaten some other playoff hopefuls during this stretch, but they were not favored by this much in those games.
It may not be easy, but we look for Atlanta to win a tight contest and keep their playoff hopes alive at a nice price.
Free Pick: Thrashers +130