Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 1:00 PM EST.
8:05 PM EST. OT included. We’re not going to attack the Predators here, as they are certainly a legit team that plays hard and plays fast. They’re also talented. What they are not is this massive juggernaut that the NHL media and almost everyone else are trying to sell you. The Preds were outplayed by Buffalo last game out but all folks see is a 4-0 Nashville victory and trust it was an easy win. It wasn’t, as that game was 0-0 halfway through with Buffalo clearly having more scoring chances. For three games in a row, all wins, Nashville was the second best team on the ice in Buffalo, Colorado and Arizona. They are also dead last in the NHL in penalties taken and time spent killing off minors. Give the Maple Leafs extended PP opportunities and they’ll bury some pucks. The Preds have one loss over their last 15 games (14-1), which is what influences the market more than anything else. However, an incredible 10 of those 14 wins were either by one goal, in OT, or by two goals with an empty net added.
In the world of hockey analytics, the dominant theory has been that a team's record in one-goal games is almost all luck. This was first established by Gabriel Desjardins of Hockey Prospectus after the 2008-09 season. He ran a regression analysis on every team's data from 1979-80 through 2013 and found that the season-to-season correlation of a team's record in one-goal games was an almost nonexistent 0.05. The point is that while the Preds are good, they are not THIS good but you will pay through the roof to get behind them here.
Auston Matthews is back for the Maple Leafs tonight. You think he matters? Well, he does --- big time. He’s Connor McDavid on the Maple Leafs. That’s how valuable and good he is. The first place Predators are among the league leaders in OT wins and they have only five more wins than the Leafs. Did Nashville’s best player miss 25% of the season so far? Is their goalie better than the Leafs goalie? No. Rinne may be having a career season, but he is not a better goalie than Andersen and you wouldn’t be wise to bet he could outperform him in a playoff series or any one game. Matthews makes up for the slightly more points the Preds have garnered to date. Tomas Plakanec, easily the best fourth line centre in the NHL, still hasn’t gotten his game to where it will eventually get to. Kasperi Kapanen has only played 30 games. Since Auston Matthews, Travis Dermott, Tomas Plekanec and Kasperi Kapanen have never suited up in the same game, the Leafs have never, not even once, dressed their best lineup. You will see that here and now we get Toronto in a price range that should be attached to Detroit. Huge overlay.
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Toronto +167 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 3.34)