The NHL’s odd schedule continues tonight as we only have two games on the docket. While that isn’t fun or ideal, at least they’re Original Six matchups. So, let’s break down these old rivalries that were integral in the sport’s growth as we know it today.
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Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
Boston Bruins (-157) vs. New York Rangers (+135)
Boston enters tonight on a three-game winning and on four days’ rest, as their weekend series against the Buffalo Sabres was postponed due to COVID protocols. Sitting atop the East Division at 8-1-2, the Bruins have picked up where they left off last season when they lead the league in regular-season points.
Despite their hot start, this squad has had to come from behind in all three games during their current streak. While they’re getting stellar goaltending and defensive play per usual, the team has struggled offensively to the tune of a 1.94 GF/60 to date. The return of star winger, David Pastrnak, has helped but this team severely lacks secondary scoring. As it stands, Nick Ritchie has the most goals outside of the “perfection line.” Not ideal.
The Blue Shirts have largely been a disappointment. Bogged down by inconsistent play and locker room turmoil, expectations haven’t been met. Their offense was supposed to lead the charge, but we haven’t seen that come to fruition. However, their 2.26 xGF/60 tells us they’re due for a breakout – along with Mika Zibanejad, who only has one goal in eleven games after having forty-one a year ago. It’ll come.
The Bruins have an advantage over the Rangers in most statistical categories but have been playing with fire as of late. They won’t be able to battle back from two and three goals every game. We also see much improved defensive play and goaltending from New York, which should keep them in this one.
Pick: NY Rangers (+135) or better.
Toronto Maple Leafs (-104) vs. Montreal Canadiens (-113)
This will be the marquee matchup of the night. Yes, I know, there are only two games, but even if there were more, this would still be it. So, zip it.
These two squads met in the season opener, resulting in a 5-4 overtime victory in favor of Toronto. The metrics from that game were relatively even throughout. The Canadiens generating nine high danger scoring chances to the Leafs’ six, who ironically had a slight advantage in Corsi.
Although the season is still young, Montreal is off to a torrid start and holds a significant advantage over Toronto in the following categories:
- CF/60: MTL (64.56) TOR (54.39)
- xGF%: MTL (61.39) TOR (52.48)
- GF/60: MTL (3.31) TOR (2.88)
- xGA/60: MTL (1.75) TOR (2.30)
If the Habs want to win this game, they will need to stay out of the box, as the Leafs’ power play executes at a ridiculous 36.6% rate.
Between the metrics and coming off two lackluster performances against the lowly Ottawa Senators, I’m backing Les Canadiens.
Pick: Montreal (-113)
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