The 2017-18 Season is Finally Here! Picks of the Day for October 4th

Dana Lane

Wednesday, October 4, 2017 6:09 PM UTC

Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017 6:09 PM UTC

It’s been a long summer but hockey is back tonight as we begin our quest for another winning season. Let’s kick this season off with a trip to the Bell MTS Place where the Winnipeg Jets host the Toronto Maple Leafs at 4:00 ET/7:00 PT.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Winnipeg Jets  

It’s not much of a surprise that the majority of the tickets written have been on the Toronto Maple Leafs according to the SBR odds page but there is a key element that is often overlooked.

In games where both teams are evenly matched, I tend to look at the home team a little more simply because they get the last line change, allowing Head Coach Paul Maurice to get his desired match-up on the ice. Maurice is no Mike Babcock but that small home ice advantage levels the playing field and is often overlooked.

The last time we saw Babcock was at a podium after last seasons first round loss to the Washington Capitals. The tone of the presser was more like a celebration for the Leafs future potential to win the Stanley Cup rather than the typical ‘what happened’ against Washington. The anticipation of Toronto’s first parade since 1967 worries me that the focus isn’t on the here and now. I can imagine that the Winnipeg Jets, who also think they’re close, are tired of hearing Leafs adoration while Patrik Laine most likely is motivated to move some of the spotlight on Auston Mathews over to him and the organization. Last season, Toronto’s pool of youngsters weren’t expected to do much, let’s see how they respond when there are expectations in a road arena that is one of the league’s best home-ice advantages. So much of wagering is factoring in the side where motivation lays which has to be with the Jets tonight.

The Jets glaring negative in 2016 was their goaltender which finished 27th overall, allowing 3.11 goals per game, but we learned from the Dallas Stars a few years back that you can out score your deficiencies especially in the regular season. In the offseason, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff addressed their need for stronger goaltending by signing former Flyer Steve Mason who will benefit from the new scenery. At 6-4, 210, Mason has good size and hockey sense who never seems to be out of position. If he can overcome the injury big Mason will be a huge addition to a team that will have no problem providing offense.

From a trend perspective, the Maple Leafs have dropped five straight meetings in Winnipeg and I have no reason to believe that trend won’t continue tonight. So definitely take that into account when making your NHL picks for tonight's action.

Free NHL Pick: Winnipeg EVENBest Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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