NHL Picks: Senators vs. Maple Leafs

David Lawrence

Saturday, October 5, 2013 12:44 PM GMT

The first regular-season edition of the “Battle Of Ontario” takes place on Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre as the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Ottawa Senators.

The Sens will be in the second half of a back-to-back after winning in Buffalo on Friday night. Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs have been off since winning their first two games on Tuesday (in Montreal) and Wednesday (in Philadelphia) in preparation for their home opener. 

Toronto has won six of their last 10 meetings with the Senators with seven of those games falling under the posted total. The Buds also have the same winning percentage at home in their last 10 against the Sens, with six games going under.

The Ottawa Senators can win because…

They have stellar goaltending. We saw it against Buffalo on Friday night as they shutout the Sabres 1-0. They are more than capable of slowing down the Maple Leafs.

Toronto is feeling pretty good about themselves after back-to-back wins but let’s face it: the Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers might not be that good. Ottawa could very well be the toughest test to date for the Maple Leafs.

Toronto’s defense better be careful because the Senators now have a slew of players that can pressure them too. Bobby Ryan is now on the team, Cory Conacher got a full camp under his belt with the Sens and Kyle Turris is coming into his own. People who make their NHL picks shouldn’t be misled by Ottawa’s one-goal output on Friday night. This team should do a better job of scoring. 

The Toronto Maple Leafs can win because… 

They can now match Ottawa’s goaltending with a capable tandem of their own. In this series, the Sens had previously had the upper hand but Toronto proved in their first two games that they can get quality play from both James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier. We’re not sure who’ll be in net on Saturday night but either way, the Leafs should be in good shape.

Where Toronto has the edge is their scoring and physicality. They have more prolific players up and they can put the biscuit in the basket. That’s evident as they’ve scored seven goals in their first two games. 

Look for the Air Canada Centre to be very fired up and that should give the Leafs an extra boost. Combined with the fact that the Sens played last night, the Leafs should have enough of an edge to get this win. 

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Outlook & Pick

This matchup is more of a coin flip than many people might think. While the NHL odds list the Maple Leafs as a -135/-140 NHL odds home favorite, the reality is that there isn’t much between these teams. 

If Craig Anderson is in net, I’d give the edge to the Maple Leafs. Anderson does not play well against Toronto as he’s allowed 19 goals in the last six meetings. However, my guess is that there’s a good chance Robin Lehner is in net after Anderson started on Friday night. 

The Sens offense is a question mark right now and Toronto probably won’t have as easy of a time scoring as they did in the first two games. That leads me towards the under in this one for my sports picks.

NHL Pick: Under 5.5 at Bet365