Bet the Home fav. as the Senators host the Maple Leafs

Ross Benjamin

Saturday, December 7, 2013 4:47 PM GMT

The Senators host the Maple Leafs on Saturday at the Canadian Tire Center in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada with the opening faceoff slated for 7:05 PM ET. Toronto has defeated Ottawa in their last 4 head-to-head confrontations. Lets take a look at the NHL odds and find our picks.

According to NHL betting odds the Senators are a -135 money line home favorite and the posted total is 5.5. These two clubs have seen just 4 of their last 21 meetings in Ottawa go over the total.

[gameodds]7/249415/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

Temporarily Stopped the Bleeding

The Leafs finally snapped a 5-games losing streak with a 3-2 overtime home win over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night. It surely didn’t come easy, as the Stars tied the game with just 2:46 left in the 3rd period, before the Leafs Trevor Smith scored the game winner with just 0:42 left in the overtime session. After beginning the season by winning 6 of their first 7-games, the Leafs have gone 9-13 since. Consistency has been an issue, as well as some shoddy defensive play. Toronto is dead last in the NHL allowing their opponents an average of 36.6 shots on goal per game. Despite the cavalcade of offensive pressure by opponents, the goaltending tandem of Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer has been very good on most nights.

State of the Leafs

The Leafs enter tonight 5th in the 8-team Atlantic Division, and are 6-points behind the division leading Boston Bruins. Despite their recent struggles, and bouts with inconsistencies, the Leafs are 6th overall in the Eastern Conference. After tonight’s game, the Leafs will host the Boston Bruins tomorrow at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Starting with that Bruins game, it will start a stretch where the Leafs will be at home for 8 of their next 11-games. Toronto has been a solid 10-5 at home this season.

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Disturbing Downward Spiral

As I have alluded to on several occasions over the last month or so, the Ottawa Senators have been one of the biggest disappointments in the NHL through the first quarter of the season. They’ve regressed to an opposite extreme of where they were a season ago, when they were a Cinderella story. Entering tonight Ottawa has lost 7 of their last 10, and 8 of their last 11-games. In addition they dug themselves an early hole by losing 10 of their first 14-games of the season. Starting with tonight, the Senators will play 10 of their next 13-games at home. However, the pessimists will say, so what! This is a team that’s gone just 4-10 at home this season. You might be wondering why sportsbooks are favoring them in this match up.

Goaltending Question Marks

It’s no secret that #1 goaltender Craig Anderson has been an absolute flop so far, with this coming after having a career year a season ago. In 17 starts Anderson has posted a lofty 3.42 GAA, and a sub-par .897 save percentage. Anderson is being pressed for playing time by his current backup Robin Lehner. In 12 starts this season Lehner has posted a stellar .930 save percentage. However, he’s been shaky in his last 2 starts allowing 6-goals on just 44-shots, for a dismal .864 save percentage.

Current State of Affairs

Ottawa enters tonight 6th in the Atlantic Division, and 13th overall in the Eastern Conference. This is a far cry from where they were expected to be heading into the season. The good news is they still have 53 regular season games left to play, and they’re just 4-points out of the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. 

NHL Super System 

Any team that has gone 5-games in a row with 6 or more shots on goal than each of their opponents, has gone 49-14 (77.8%) versus the money line since the beginning of the 2009-2010 season. We'll take the Senators as our NHL pick.

Free Pick: Ottawa -140 over Toronto