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Maple Leafs vs. Devils, 7:00 ET
Ah, the shootout that has saved us so many times finally cost us a victory last night. I’m not sure it is quite time to fade me, but after three losses in a row, feel free to play a little more cautiously until we pick up the winning again. I’ve never made claims I’m some sort of hockey prognosticator. I’ve been trying this and been very successful, but there will be dips and this is one of them for sure. I do have a play for tonight’s packed slate though.
The Maple Leafs are having a very strong season with their 38-17-8 record and I think they got better around the trade deadline moves. This is a potential playoff preview matchup. I think it could be a really good game, and if it is anything like the first two games, it will be really close. The road team has won both of the first two games with the Devils taking the first one in mid-November and the Maple Leafs escaping with a victory in New Jersey a week later. The Maple Leafs have had a bit of a stumble lately as they’ve gone just 2-2 on this road trip so far. Over their last three games their offense has struggled, too. They’ve only scored five goals over their past three games. In the first game of the road trip, they scored five against the Kraken. Ilya Samsonov is likely to be in the net tonight and he’s been awesome with a 2.39 goals against per game average for the season. He was beaten up pretty badly in his last game though, allowing five goals to the Oilers. He hasn’t faced the Devils yet this year. I am a bit concerned that the Maple Leafs have Auston Matthews and John Tavares on the injury report for tonight. Tavares is out and Matthews is day-to-day, but Matthews played in the most recent game so he probably goes tonight, too.
The Devils are having a solid season with a 41-15-6 overall record. As they gear up for the playoffs this game is a good test to see where they are at in the Eastern Conference. They now head home after a three-game West Coast road trip where they went 2-1. Their offense has certainly been firing lately, but their defense didn’t come with them at all on the trip. Over their past five games, they scored 26 goals. In that same stretch, they’ve allowed 16 goals and one of those games was a shutout. Now they come home to a tough matchup against the Maple Leafs but I think they have the upper hand here. Vitek Vanecek is in the goal tonight for them and he’s been very good this season, only allowing 2.50 goals against per game. He did struggle and allowed nine goals in just over 100 minutes in his last two games. However, both of the games did result in wins for the Devils.
I’m going to take the Devils to win this game. I’m not really crazy about supporting a team that is off of a road trip like this, but I think they are in a more consistent form and if the Maple Leafs start to struggle in this one with some hurt offensive pieces I’m not sure they will be able to stop New Jersey. Back the Devils at -130.
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