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11/11/2010 12:00:00 AM
Better tell Toronto Maple Leafs brass to
cancel the Stanley Cup parade their backers had planned after the team started
the season with four straight wins.
I always get a kick out of Leafs supporters, although you have to respect their never-ending optimism. Every season, Toronto bettors overvalue their club to no end and it bites them where it matters – in their wallets.
Things have taken a turn for the worse for
the Leafs after their hot start. Toronto is 1-7-3 in its last 10 games,
including seven consecutive losses against the moneyline on the NHL betting odds
Predictably, the Leafs are having trouble
scoring, and unfortunately, that’s been coupled with a turn for the worse on
the penalty kill.
After Phil Kessel, Toronto doesn’t have one
single forward that would make the top two lines on any team that has a whiff
of the playoffs. Shut down Kessel, and you beat the Leafs: it’s that simple.
It doesn’t help that captain Dion Phaneuf
(leg laceration) is out until early next month. Phaneuf adds offense from the
back end and helps out when the team is a man short. After starting the season
in good shape, Toronto is now in the bottom five in penalty killing.
The bottom line: Look to fade the Leafs in
any way, shape, or form when they host Vancouver on Saturday night at Air
wing and a prayer
As tough as it is for Toronto right now, it’s
worse in Buffalo where head coach Lindy Ruff is in jeopardy of losing his job.
The Sabres are in last place in the Northeast Division and have yet to cash for
moneyline bettors at HSBC Arena this season (0-6-1).
Buffalo was one of the best defensive teams
in the NHL last season, but it’s taken a serious turn in the other direction.
Ryan Miller, who was arguably the best player
in the league last season, is on the shelf with a lower body injury. Not that Miller and the Sabres’
defense were shutting anyone down when he was healthy.
Before getting hurt, Miller was 3-5-0 with a
2.71 GAA and .903 SVP. Last season, Miller put up a 2.22 GAA and .929 SVP. Suffice
to say, I don’t see value in Buffalo on Thursday night against the Rangers and
on Saturday night against the Capitals.
white, blue, and in the black
Speaking of Washington, it’s rolling right
now. The Caps lead the league in scoring and have cashed five in a row and
seven of eight to sit at 11-4-0 and 7-1-0 at the Verizon Center.
Reports of Alex Ovechkin’s demise have been
Alexander the Greatly exaggerated. After a slow start by his lofty standards,
Ovechkin is second in league scoring with eight goals and 12 assists in 15
Looks like Ovie is just heating up with Tampa
Bay coming to Washington on Thursday night for the Capitals’ first game of a
three-games-in-four-nights stretch. After traveling to take on Buffalo on
Saturday, Washington faces off with Atlanta at home on Sunday.
Back in the preseason, I predicted that the Los Angeles Kings would be one of the sharpest wagers in the Western
Conference. I called for the Kings to play ‘over’ their season win total and to
be a strong sleeper play to win the West outright.
So far, so good, this season for Los Angeles,
which has won six of its last seven to stand at 10-3-0 with Dallas rolling into
Staples Center on Thursday night. The Kings also invite the Islanders to L.A.
on Saturday night, so that’s another good opportunity to reel in a modest
return this week.
There are plenty of reasons the Kings are
taking names this season, but the progression of goaltender Jonathan Quick is
at the top of the list. Quick is 8-1-0 with a 1.64 GAA and .942 SVP this
Matchups on which to keep an eye on this week
include Thursday night’s showdown in Boston between the Bruins and Canadiens.
Friday night’s slate features a game between Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, while on
Saturday night, Colorado heads to the Motor City to battle with Detroit.