Offensive-Minded Avalanche, Leafs Set for High-Scoring Affair

Dana Lane

Monday, January 22, 2018 6:59 PM UTC

Monday, Jan. 22, 2018 6:59 PM UTC

Monday night's Avalanche-Maple Leafs matchup features two of the league's highest-scoring teams, but is the over too easy of a play with your NHL picks?

Monday NHL: Avalanche vs. Maple Leafs

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Free NHL Pick: Over 6 +110Best Line Offered: Pinnacle

We have been on an incredible run with our NHL picks, and Sunday night we added another brick to our wall of success when the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks easily cashed our over ticket. Joe Thornton was the deciding factor when he scored early in the third period to push the game over the 5.5 posted total.

We’re playing another total tonight with the scorching Colorado Avalanche visiting the Toronto Maple Leafs. This seems like an easy choice based on the NHL odds board, considering Colorado ranks fourth in scoring and Toronto is seventh. I usually try to run the other way when I see two teams whose strengths are in one specific area, but I have reason to believe that the obvious choice is still the right selection in this one.

Although the Leafs are still a highly regarded offense, they haven’t been very good recently with only 12 goals in five games. Their top line is led by Auston Matthews, who has six points in his last 10 games. His wingers, Zach Hyman and William Nylander, have two goals and eight assists in their last 10 combined games.

Beyond that there is plenty of room for improvement and it begins with Nazem Kadri, Toronto's second-line center who has just two points in his last 10. Kadri could easily be moved to the third line where he wouldn’t be counted on as much offensively, and Tyler Bozak could move up to the second line. The point is, there is still room for improvement and it’s a matter of time before they explode.

We’ve talked about players getting used to a routine and how a team is affected when that changes. The Avalanche didn’t practice Sunday after arriving in Toronto later than planned because of weather issues.

Defenseman Tyson Barrie (hand), goaltender Semyon Varlamov (groin area) and forward Sven Andrighetto (leg) could return to Colorado's lineup during the three-game road trip. I think it takes at least two games for returning players to become part of a cohesive unit again, and I’ve always been under the belief that when players come back from injuries, it's a good spot to pick the over because sloppy play leads to offensive chances. And with the Avalanche 18-6-2 over the total in their last 26 games against Eastern Conference opponents, jump on tonight’s over at a plus price.

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