Toronto Maple Leafs (11-5) @ Boston Bruins (9-6)
According to NHL betting odds the Bruins are a -195 money line home favorite and the posted total is 5.0. The Bruins have defeated the Maple Leafs in 35 of their last 52 meetings including 7 of the last 9 at TD Garden. These two clubs have seen just 5 of their last 20 meetings stay under the total.
This will be the first meeting of the season between these two teams since their memorable 7-game playoff series last year. Boston won the high drama series with an improbable comeback in the deciding 7th game. Boston was able to overcome a 4-1 deficit in the 3rd period, and ultimately tied the game with 2-goals in the final 1:22 of regulation time to send the contest to overtime. The Bruins Patrice Bergeron proceeded to win the game with a sudden death goal 6:05 into the 1st overtime to advance Boston to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. It was a bitter pill to swallow for the Leafs players and fans, then having to watch Boston advance all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.
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Turning Over a New Leaf
The Leafs haven’t let the disappointing end to last season affect their play to start the 2013-2014 campaign. They’re currently tied for first place with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the newly aligned 8-team Atlantic Division. Toronto comes off a hard fought 2-1 overtime shootout win at home last night versus the New Jersey Devils. Toronto continues to get superb goaltending this season as Jonathan Bernier stopped 34 of the 35 shots on goal by the Devils. Bernier improved to 7-4 on the season with a 2.17 GAA and a stellar .936 save percentage. In all likelihood James Reimer will get the call in goal tonight for Toronto. All Reimer has done in a backup role is go 4-1 with a 2.36 GAA and an outstanding .942 save percentage.
Inside the Leafs Numbers
- The Leafs are 4-1 in their last 5-games when playing with no rest.
- The Leafs are 9-3 in their last 12-games played on a Saturday.
- The Leafs have gone under the total in 8 of their last 10-games after allowing 2-goals or less in their previous contest.
- The Leafs have gone under the total in just 16 of their last 51-games versus Atlantic Division opponents.
Getting back on Track
After starting the season 7-2 the Bruins have been a bit inconsistent since then going just 2-4. However, they did put together a solid effort in a 4-1 home win over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night. Boston led just 1-0 heading into the 3rd period but showed their killer instinct in the final stanza outscoring the Panthers 3-1. Tuukka Rask was once again rock solid in goal stopping 23 of 24 shots on net. Rask is off to a terrific start to the season posting an excellent 1.68 GAA and .942 save percentage in 13 starts. The Bruins are currently ranked 2nd in the NHL allowing just 1.9 goals per game.
Inside the Bruins Numbers
- The Bruins are 16-5 in their last 21-games versus Eastern Conference opponents.
- The Bruins are 37-18 in their last 55-games versus Atlantic Division opponents.
- The Bruins have gone over the total just 4-times in their last 21-games versus opponents with a money line winning percentage that’s better than .600.
- The Bruins have gone over the total in just 17 of their last 64-games overall.
This early season affair should have the intensity of one similar to what we will see in the spring of 2014. Both clubs have top notch goaltending, and in my opinion that will be the key to the result tonight. The Leafs James Reimer isn’t your typical backup, while Tuukka Rask may be the best goaltender in the world right now. I like this one to be a low scoring affair for our NHL picks.
Any team coming off a home win by 3-goals or more with a money line winning percentage of .600 to .700, and they’re facing an opponent with a winning record in the first half of the season has seen 35 of those 45-games (77.8%) go under the total since the beginning of the 2009-2010 season.