Senators Look For First Home Win Against Maple Leafs
Toronto’s hot start to the 2017-18 NHL season has lifted them alongside the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning as co-favorites to win the Stanley Cup. The Leafs mix of speed and skill, along with solid goaltending, allow them to outscore most teams with ease.
The Senators survived a rough start without Erik Karlsson, earning a point in their first five. When Karlsson returned, the Sens dropped a puzzling 3-0 loss against the Vancouver Canucks and a sloppy 5-4 OT loss against the Devils. Ottawa seeks their first home win and improved consistency, beginning tonight.
Toronto usually doesn’t play well in Ottawa, but the Leafs have transcended their losing patterns in 2017. Expect Toronto to beat the Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre, where Ottawa has yet to win. Taking the puckline against Ottawa adds unnecessary risk because Toronto’s a decent value for a favorite.
These teams score plenty against each other, so the most likely totals bet to win will be the over. For over/unders this year, Toronto games have finished under only once, during the Leafs shutout of the Capitals.
Toronto Maple Leafs at Ottawa Senators Preview
As the older brother in the battle of Ontario, the Toronto Maple Leafs have traditionally caused problems for the Ottawa Senators in the playoffs instead of the regular season. Over the past ten meetings, the Senators have a 7-1-2 record against the Leafs, failing to register a point only once. At home, the Sens won six of their last eight when facing the Leafs, dating back to the 2014 season. Toronto will need to overcome their difficulties against the Sens to steal a road win.
At the very least, fans on both sides should be entertained, because the Leafs and the Sens don’t play conservatively against each other. Over their last ten meetings, these teams average a total of 6.6 goals per game. After seven games, the Leafs are the most prolific scorers in the league, while the Senators find themselves in the top ten of NHL team scoring. An over/under of six seems a bit high, but the Sens and Leafs have scored six or more in six of their last ten against each other.
The Senators have the superior defense of the two teams. Sens coach Guy Boucher unleashes the 1-3-1 neutral zone trap, which tranquilizes the opposition more often than not. Toronto has been slowly improving on the defensive end – the Leafs allowed an average of two goals per game over their last three, after the Devils blasted them for six in the only Toronto loss this season. If Toronto continues to play competent defense, they’ll be a top five team in the NHL this year.
Moneylines show this game to be slightly in favor of Toronto, despite the Leafs terrible history when playing Ottawa on the road during the regular season. Under normal circumstance, the Leafs would be underdogs and Ottawa’s odds would be better than 50/50 for this type of home matchup. These Maple Leafs appear extraordinary to start this season, ready to overturn the trends of the past. Toronto recently broke a 14-game losing streak against the Habs in Montreal, and they should be able to deny Ottawa their first win at home.
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