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Leafs Living Up To Expectations
The Toronto Maple Leafs were the sexy to pick to emulate the 2016-17 Edmonton Oilers and rise to NHL prominence paced by their young, flashy stars and so far, they haven’t disappointed anyone.
The New Jersey Devils? No, nobody pegged them as a contender but the Devils, like the Leafs, come into Tuesday’s showdown at the Air Canada Centre with an unblemished record.
We look at this and other key NHL Wednesday NHL games, utilizing odds provided by BetOnline.ag.
The 3-0 Leafs keep finding different ways to win. They blew out Winnipeg 7-2, and then blew a four-goal lead before rallying to outscore the New York Rangers 8-5. After falling behind 3-1 to the Blackhawks, Toronto rallied for a 4-3 win on a spectacular overtime tally by Auston Matthews.
Matthews has scored just twice so far this season, which is a bonus considering how many goals the Leafs have registered without significant impact from their best goal scorer. There are also causes for concern in Toronto. The five goals against surrendered against the Rangers was followed up by 10 first-period turnovers versus Chicago.
Can the Devils exploit Toronto’s defensive deficiencies?
The 2-0 Devils have outscored the opposition 10-3. New Jersey is getting offense from new sources. Rookie defenseman Will Butcher had three assists in his NHL debut and in Monday’s 6-2 win over Buffalo, rookie Jesper Bratt and newcomer Marcus Johansson combined for four goals and two assists. But New Jersey has lost three straight at Toronto.
With the Devils (five goals per game) and Leafs (6.63 GPG) both lighting the lamp, the total of six seems quite low.
Anytime you get Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin on the same ice surface, there’s going to be fireworks. While Sid The Kid got the edge in the playoffs again last spring, winning his second Stanley Cup in a row after eliminating Ovi and the Caps, at the moment, it’s Washington and Ovechkin who are carrying the hot hand.
Ovechkin opened with seven goals in his first two games, becoming the first NHLer since 1917 to start with successive hat tricks. Tampa Bay held Ovechkin pointless in a 4-3 OT win Monday, but Washington is still 2-0-1.
The Penguins, who visited the White House on Tuesday, are 1-1-1 and have surrendered 15 goals. But they rebounded from a shocking 10-1 drubbing at Chicago to blank the Nashville Predators 4-0 in a rematch of last spring’s Cup final. Pittsburgh will play five of its next six on the road and are in Tampa Bay on Thursday, so this is a game the Penguins need to get off on the right foot.
Pick: The Penguins (+116)
The Avs slammed the Bruins 4-0 Monday, improving to 11-0-0-1 in their last 12 in Boston behind two goals from Nail Yakupov and 28 saves by Semyon Varlamov, and will look for a season sweep.
The Bruins, who won last season at Colorado, got D Torey Krug back from injury, but lost C Patrice Bergeron (lower body) and forwards Noel Acciari (finger) and David Backes (diverticulitis) went on IRL.
Pick: The Avalanche (+117)
Fresh from ending a 25-game winless skid against the Ducks in Anaheim, the Flames have won two in a row. Recently-signed forward Jaromir Jagr has yet to make his Calgary debut and isn’t expected to play in this game.
The Kings, who have captured four of the last five from the Flames in L.A., have allowed just one goal while winning their first two games under new coach John Stevens.
Pick: The Kings (-130)
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