The Red Wings have won two of three against the Maple Leafs this season, and all three games have been decided by a single goal; two went down to a shootout. However, Toronto has won four of their last five meetings with Detroit at the Air Canada Center.
The Detroit Red
Wings Can Win Because…
They are still keeping it together. That the Red Wings are even in the playoff hunt is absolutely amazing and Mike Babcock has to be the favorite to win his first Jack Adams Award as Coach of the Year (seriously?). Through all the injuries to players like Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Jimmy Howard, Babcock has kept the Red Wings focused on the task at hand. Players are stepping up to the challenge. Datsyuk has started skating this week and he could be back for Saturday, although it isn’t likely, while Zetterberg has stated that he wants to rejoin the team in the playoffs.
Toronto is ripe for the picking given that they’ve now lost seven straight. Their defense has been brutal, giving up 28 goals during this recent seven-game losing skid. It’s not getting better either; in their 5-3 loss at home to St. Louis on Tuesday, they allowed 23 shots in the first period alone. Jonathan Bernier is back but he doesn’t seem recovered from his groin injury. This team lacks confidence on defense and it seems to be getting worse.
Throw in the fact that Toronto is in a back-to-back situation after playing Philadelphia on Friday night and the Red Wings look more and more like the wise choice for your NHL picks.
The Toronto Maple
Leafs Can Win Because…
When the Maple Leafs are on, they can compete and cause trouble for anyone in the NHL. Their top line of Tyler Bozak, Phil Kessel and James van Reimsdyk are still producing offensively, and their power play, which is ranked third in the NHL, has scored in three of the last four games. They are even getting production from the defensemen as Jake Gardiner has nine points (including five goals) this month, while Dion Phaneuf and Morgan Reilly have combined for 14 points in March. The Maple Leafs are very capable of burning the Red Wings in an open game and they are also 22-14-1 at the ACC this season.
The Wings are shorthanded without their two top dogs (Datsyuk and Zetterberg), and they simply won’t be able to keep up offensively. They have lost three in a row coming into this game, allowing 13 goals along the way. That’s going to spell trouble on Saturday night, so take a shot with the Leafs.
Outlook & Pick
The Leafs have really struggled recently but this could be one spot where they get back on track. The Red Wings are a mess right now and their offense is lacking a number of weapons that would normally exploit the Leafs feeble defense. That being the case, take Toronto as a small favorite to cash in this spot.
Pick: Leafs -111 at Pinnacle[gameodds]7/260335/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]