Jimmy’s NHL picks record: 52-62-3
Monday, 7 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Free NHL Picks: Predators ML and ‘Over’
Best Lines Offered:
After missing 19 games with an undisclosed injury and returning December 27, Predators defenseman P.K. Subban is starting to find his groove again with a goal and two assists in his last two games, the latter coming in a 4-1 win against his former team in Montreal on Saturday. Subban loves and shines in the spotlight and the lights will be bright again Monday when he plays in his hometown. You can expect another big game from the former Norris Trophy winner as the Preds will win a wild one over the Maple Leafs in Toronto.
With the win, the Preds jumped back into first in the Central Division and let it be known to their division rivals and to the rest of the Western Conference that they’re moving on from their recent lackluster play. Of course, that play was affected by Subban’s injury and injuries to the likes of forwards Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg (still injured), but the Preds weren’t playing their hockey and they are now. That combo of an attacking offense started from the blue line and the stingy goaltending of Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros are what makes them a legit Stanley Cup contender. They were +1400 to win the Stanley Cup at the start the season and are +800 now. That will likely go down, so jump on it now!
The Maple Leafs are contenders in the East and have done a solid job of meeting expectations (+450 to win the Cup at the start of the season; now +700). That would be a solid future bet but not a great one yet and that’s because — in the humble opinion of this scribe — Toronto is still a top-2 defenseman from really contending for Lord Stanley. Factor in the fact their goal crease is hurting with starter Frederik Andersen (groin) and backup Garret Sparks (concussion) still day-to-day, and this Leafs team could be in for a rough stretch. Yes, newcomer Michael Hutchinson had a shutout in his second start on Saturday but he can’t hold the fort much longer with that leaky defense in front of him. Riding the “over” again in this game and going forward with the Leafs could be a solid play.
The Predators are 25-18 against the spread and 10-11 on the road. Nashville has scored 131 goals and allowed 109. They’re 20-22-1 on the over/under and 12-9-0 on the road. The Preds are 17-26 on the puck line and 7-14 on the road. Ryan Johansen leads the team in assists with 28 and points with 36. Craig Smith and Forsberg are tied for the team lead in goals with 14 each.
The Leafs are 27-14 against the spread and 13-8 at home. Toronto has scored 152 goals and allowed 113. They’re 20-18-3 on the over/under and 9-11-1 at home. The Maple Leafs are 21-20 on the puck line and 10-11 at home. Mitch Marner leads the team in assists with 40 and points with 55. John Tavares leads the Leafs in goals with 27 and Auston Matthews isn’t far behind with 20.
For the Preds, Rinne is 15-10-0-2 with a 2.31 GAA and .919 save percentage. Saros is 10-5-0-1 with a 2.71 GAA and .907 save percentage.
For the Leafs, Hutchinson is 1-1-0 with a 2.05 GAA and .935 save percentage.
For the Predators, forward Miikka Salomaki is day-to-day with an upper-body injury; forward Kyle Turris is on injured reserve with a lower-body injury; Forsberg is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury; and defenseman Yannick Weber is on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury.
For the Leafs, Andersen and Sparks are day-to-day; forward Tyler Ennis is out indefinitely with an ankle injury; and forward Zach Hyman is day-to-day with an ankle injury.
Final score prediction: Predators 4, Maple Leafs 3