NHL Picks: Maple Leafs vs. Predators

David Lawrence

Thursday, October 10, 2013 12:08 PM GMT

Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013 12:08 PM GMT

The Preds will be in the second of a five-game homestand while the Maple Leafs look to remain undefeated on the road so far this season. 

The Toronto Maple Leafs have gotten off to a fast start to the NHL regular season, winning three of their four games. But they are coming off a souring loss to the Colorado Avalanche and now head to Nashville to face the Predators, who won for the first time in three contests on Tuesday. 

The two teams, which play in opposite conferences, don’t meet that often but the Maple Leafs have won three of the last five since 2007. Their last meeting came back in 2011, when the Preds won by a 4-1 scoreline. Three of those five games fell under the posted total. 

The Toronto Maple Leafs can win because… 

They’ve been very good offensively for the most part to start the campaign. Their 13 goals are the most in the Eastern Conference. They score at a 23.5% clip on the power play and eight players have found the back of the net for Toronto with four players scoring twice. The Buds may need all the scoring depth they can get on Thursday as Joffrey Lupul may sit this game out with a calf injury suffered in a 2-1 loss to Colorado on Tuesday. 

People who have been betting on NHL picks know that Toronto has also been getting great goaltending from Jonathan Bernier, who pitched shutout after replacing James Reimer in a shootout win over Ottawa. He has a 1.17 GAA in 153 minutes of action as opposed to Reimer’s 4.63 ERA in 91 minutes. Bernier kept the Maple Leafs in the game when they lost to the Avalanche and the team looks very confident in front of him going forward.

The Nashville Predators can win because…

Of goaltender Pekka Rinne. The Predators have struggled a little at the start line and in particular, Rinne, who has a 3.26 GAA in 129 minutes. However, he has a .905 save percentage and that is bound to go up as the Nashville defense healthier. As long as Rinne stays the course, the Predators are always going to have a chance to win due to their tight-checking defensive style and it wouldn’t be a surprise in the slightest if Rinne were to throw up a shutout and stymie the Leafs on Thursday.

Nashville is also one of the best teams in the league when it comes to the faceoff dot, winning 54.7% of the time, which good for third in the Western Conference. This also fits their style as they can clear the zone quickly with their ability to win the draw, although they need to use it a little more in the offensive end as well and convert scoring chances. If they do the little things right, they’ll have a shot to win on Thursday.

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Outlook & Pick

Despite Toronto’s scoring outburst to start the season, don’t expect this to continue. This is still a young team and people who make their sports picks should see them be inconsistent at the offensive end.

With Bernier and Rinne in net on Thursday, the best play on the NHL odds is the under.

NHL Pick: Under 5.5 at WillHill

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