Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 3:00 PM EST.
7:05 PM EST. OT included. The Maple Leafs have won just three times over their past 10 games and two of those victories came in OT. The other side of that coin is that Toronto has lost four times in OT over that same span so seven of their last 10 games have gone into extra time. We can live with this one going to extra time too but the point is that Toronto has been a 50/50 proposition for weeks. Prior to defeating the Senators 4-3 on Saturday night, the Leafs had scored three goals or fewer in nine straight games. Since December 15, a span of five weeks, the Leafs 5v5 Score and Venus Adjusted Corsi For % ranks 14th in the league and their Corsi Against/60 ranks 22nd in the league over that same span. The Maple Leafs Expected Goals Against per 60 minutes over the past five weeks ranks 25th. The Leafs defense is a weak unit that allows far too many high danger scoring chances and if they have any intentions of a deep playoff run, it’s an area that must be addressed. The Maple Leafs are a massively risky favorite in this range because of all the high quality scoring chances they give up.
Colorado is the hottest team in the NHL with nine straight wins and while a lot of it is luck, the numbers under the hood keep improving. The reason the Avs are on fire is because of two luck-driven stats. The Avs rank second in penalty killing (84.7%) Colorado has extinguished 55 of its last 58 short-handed situations (94.8%) and killed 36 straight penalties from Dec. 7 to Jan. 2. The Avs also rank among the NHL's top 10 power-play teams at 20.9%, which includes a 15-for-50 mark (30%) over the last 14 contests covering five weeks. We have addressed special teams’ play in hockey numerous times, especially in our podcasts and will continue to insist that success or failure is all in-game variance or luck. The Avs bubble will burst soon in that regard but when you’re hot, you’re hot and even if special teams don’t figure into this result, Colorado still figures to get plenty of scoring chances. There are also plenty of things to like about the Avs too, as their success is not all luck. Colorado is loaded with skill players and perhaps the best line in hockey that nobody is talking about. Since Gabriel Landeskog—Nathan MacKinnon—Mikko Rantanen were put together on Oct. 28, that line has combined for 51 goals, 70 assists and 121 points in 35 games. The trio ranks 1-2-3 in team scoring and at least one of the three has been involved in 83 (or 56%) of Colorado's 149 total goals this year. Jonathan Bernier has won eight consecutive games, equaling the third-longest win streak by a goaltender in franchise history so he’s on fire too. The Avs are the fourth-highest scoring team in the NHL, averaging 3.31 goals-per-game. Colorado has scored at least six goals in a game on seven occasions this season, tied with Toronto and the New York Islanders for the most such outings in 2017-18 but again, nobody is talking about them. It is also very noteworthy that Colorado’s Expected GA since Dec. 15 ranks first in the NHL, ahead of both second and third place Tampa Bay and Dallas respectively.
The Avs next stretch of games, 13 of next 16 on the road, is crucial. That begins here, as the Avs embark on a long six-game trip that ends in Winnipeg on February 3. Setting the tone for said trip is of the utmost importance and we now get to back that dangerous team in a good spot at a great price. Massive overlay here.
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Colorado +149 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.98)