Leafs Will Flex Their Muscles Against Visiting Blackhawks

Dana Lane

Monday, October 9, 2017 5:21 PM UTC

Monday, Oct. 9, 2017 5:21 PM UTC

Crushed another winner Sunday as our 2017-18 season has got off to a fantastic start. The Candiens and Rangers ‘under’ was never in doubt with only one goal scored through two periods. Now we look to Monday and Blackhawks at Maple Leafs.

Chicago Blackhawks at Toronto Maple Leafs

Tonight, our winner comes from the Air Canada Centre, where the Chicago Blackhawks pay a visit to the Toronto Maple Leafs; the puck drops at 7 p.m. ET with the Leafs as NHL betting favorites.

With both teams showing off their offensive skills early and backup Anton Forsberg getting his first start in goal for Chicago, it’s not a surprise that the public money has come in on the ‘over,’ an option I looked at but decided to wager on the safer bet even though we have to lay a little more than I would normally like on the side where the Leafs are currently -145 at 5Dimes. The public blindly bets Chicago, but Forsberg has to show more than a 4.02 GAA and .879 save percentage in 10 career starts to earn my confidence.

The general public has pounded the Blackhawks, but it's bigger Leafs money that has moved this line from an opening number of -137 to -155 in some spots. We’ve talked about the motivation factor when handicapping games. Betting on a team that has the proverbial chip on their shoulder generally produces winners, and I think the Leafs are the team that carries that chip tonight.

Aside from being at home, you have to think that Mike Babcock’s team looks at the Blackhawks as a measuring stick. Even though the Blackhawks have been dumped from the playoffs in the first round in each of the last two years, this is still a franchise that others wish to be, and a victory over Chicago would give Toronto the needed mental boost on their way to becoming one of the league’s elite franchises. I always like to get involved in game where I know the home team is going to give maximum effort.

Both teams have combined for 30 goals to start the season, but Toronto has had at least 12 players find the scoresheet in showing off their depth. The addition of Patrick Marleau has allowed the Leafs to put three lines on the ice that are legitimate scoring threats. Marleau has made those around him better as his linemate Nazem Kadri leads the team in scoring with two goals and two assists. Even the fourth line of Eric Fehr, Matt Martin and Connor Brown will get their share.

The word balance comes to mind when thinking of the Leafs offensively, but I also anticipate a better defensive effort tonight. Listening to Babcock’s press conference today he pointed out the ultimately defense has to tighten down in the league. That is clearly an indication of what his emphasis has been on with his own team. Babcock knows that allowing 3.5 goals per game isn’t the formula for winning a Stanley Cup.

We’re going to see a much better defensive effort from the Leafs as they flex their offensive muscles against Forsberg and the Hawks.

Free NHL Pick: Leafs -145Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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