Penguins -173 Behind Crosby's Resurgence is the NHL Pick vs. Maple Leafs

Swinging Johnson

Saturday, October 31, 2015 8:08 PM GMT

Two teams going in opposite directions faceoff in Toronto tonight. Let's peruse the NHL odds and find the right side to back tonight when the Penguins visit the struggling Maple Leafs.

The Maple Leafs' downward spiral continues winning only one game all season while the Penguins have notched victories in six of their last seven.

 

Pittsburgh Penguins (6-4, +0,9 Units)
Thursday night the NHL odds makers made you lay serious lumber if you wanted to back the Pittsburgh Penguins at home against the Buffalo Sabres. But when it was all over those who had the courage of their convictions and backed the Pens -210 in their NHL picks were rewarded when Pittsburgh claimed a 4-3 decision over the visitors. Backup goaltender Jeff Zatkoff got his first start of the season in place of workhorse Marc-Andre Fleury and he made it count stopping 50 of 53 Buffalo shots including 24 alone in the final period.

Evgeni Malkin is off to a promising start leading the league in game winning goals with three on the young season including one against the Sabres on Thursday night. Malkin now has 10 points and is the fulcrum of this Pittsburgh offense while fellow superstar Sidney Crosby is struggling mightily thus far, being held without a point in eight of his club's first nine contests. However that could be turning around as Crosby contributed a pair of assists Thursday night which is a welcome sight for a team that ranks a dismal 27th in goals per game.

 

Toronto Maple Leafs (1-8, -6.8 Units)
Toronto visited the Big Apple last night and the results were familiar. After dropping seven of eight games headed into their clash with the Rangers, the Maple Leafs were hoping for a little divine intervention. But alas there was none as they lost their eighth of nine games by the score of 3-1. Joffrey Lupul lit the lamp late in the third period to ruin Rangers' goalie Henrik Lundqvist's shutout bid. Toronto has managed just 2.2 goals per game which ranks them 22nd in the league.

This is a rebuilding year under new head coach Mike Babcock and though the results haven't been pretty there is a very strategic blueprint being crafted that will hopefully bear fruit down the road. The team has excellent prospects in the minors and while the big club may not be impressive on paper Mike Babcock is slowly putting the pieces of the puzzle together even if they're not all fitting right now. Said one rival executive about Babcock and the Leafs, "Way more structured, like way, way more. More disciplined. The goaltending hasn't been good enough so far. Speaking of goaltending not all the blame can be laid at the skates of the netminding tandem of Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer as the defense must bear some responsibility too but their 27th ranked goals allowed leaves enough room for plenty of blame to go around.

Here you can find our NHL Picks of the Day

Betting Analysis
Pittsburgh is 6-1 (+4.6 Units) against the spread versus Toronto over the last three seasons including their most recent meeting earlier this month when the Pens edged the Maple Leafs 2-1 in Pittsburgh. It's impossible to make a case for Toronto even though the NHL odds makers will try to tempt us with a boatload of return on our investment if we side with the home underdog here.

Nevertheless we look at the fact that Toronto just played, and lost, last night in New York and had to hop a plane back in time for tonight's Saturday night clash against one of the most explosive offenses in the league. In addition we will most likely be getting a refreshed Marc-Andre Fleury in net, though his status is not confirmed as of this writing, who finally got a breather sitting out for the first time all season. And finally Sidney Crosby may have just turned the corner with two assists in his last outing and will be very eager to build on that.

NHL Picks: Lay the lumber and bet Pittsburgh -173 at Heritage

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