Weariness Could Keep Total 'Under' in Leafs-Wings Matchup

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Dana Lane

Sunday, February 18, 2018 6:13 PM UTC

Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018 6:13 PM UTC

Toronto and Detroit tend to play lower-scoring games against each other, with the "under" 12-3 in their last 15 meetings. Tonight's game won't be different.

Sunday NHL: Maple Leafs vs. Red WingsFree NHL Pick: 'Under' 6 (-122)Best Line Offered: Bookmaker

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Saturday’s winner wasn’t pretty, with Detroit scoring twice against Nashville in the first period, but things settled down and we got another victory with our "under" pick. Our next winner comes from tonight's Red Wings game, at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The early betting has seen this total rise from an opening number of 5.5 to 6, even though, according to the NHL odds board, the majority of tickets have come in on the "under." Big money is pushing this number up, outweighing public opinion.

This is the second meeting between these clubs this season. On Dec. 15, the Leafs won 3-1 at home. The total was never in doubt with both teams managing just 55 total shots, an easy cover even at 5.5. We’ll get the same goaltending matchup, with Toronto's Curtis McElhinney (6-4, .903, 2.97) against Detroit's Jimmy Howard (16-18-6, .910, 2.83). McElhinney is on a bit of a roll after allowing just two goals in his past three starts.

Since joining Toronto, McElhinney is producing the best numbers of his career even though he’s just 12-11, but there have been plenty of times he has had to come up big to keep the Leafs in games. We know it’s more difficult to play on a team that is all about transition, because those teams tend to give up more chances going back. A convenient example is a start against the Wings in November when he faced 33 shots, but 12 were in high-traffic areas where he had to come up big in the Leafs' 6-3 victory. If you think Toronto will win tonight's game, keep in mind that in McElhinney’s six wins he has given up an average one goal per.

Howard has won two of his past three starts but hasn’t looked great doing it (2-1, .902, 3.33). Confidence has always been his strength and I’m sure he’s ready to atone for Thursday's loss to Tampa Bay when he allowed four goals on 32 shots.

Both teams played Saturday night, so we might be dealing with a little fatigue, which is more likely with teams with speed. Both teams arrived in Detroit late, adding to the potential of a slower-paced game. With your NHL picks, jump on the "under" with two netminders who have had success against each other and two teams that might be feeling the effects of playing Saturday night.

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