Saturday On-Ice Betting Action
Who To Back In The NHL
By Bob Duff
First of three games in eight days between these two teams in what should ultimately decide who rules over the Atlantic Division. Montreal holds a one-point lead over Ottawa. The Sens and Habs will play again Sunday and next Saturday, both at Montreal’s Bell Centre.
Ottawa has won both meetings with Montreal this season, taking a 4-3 shootout decision Oct. 15 in Ottawa and a 4-3 triumph Nov. 22 in Montreal. Ottawa was won seven of nine from Montreal, including three in a row.
The Senators like to play a hard-hitting game and wear down the smaller Canadiens, which is why Montreal moved to beef up at the trade deadline, adding forwards Steve Ott and Dwight King and defenseman Jordie Benn.
Ottawa has just three power play goals in its last 11 games (32 opportunities) and rates 28th in the NHL in home ice power play efficiency (14.3 per cent).
Pick: The Senators (-101) and the under (5)
Which Leafs team will show up? Toronto rebounded from a 7-2 thumping at Florida and scored five unanswered goals – including two in a span of 10 seconds – and Frederik Andersen registered his career-high fourth shutout of the season as the Maple Leafs reclaimed sole possession of the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference with a 5-0 win Thursday at Tampa Bay.
William Nylander collected an assist to extend his point streak to six games (1-5-6) and become the third Maple Leafs rookie to reach the 50-point mark this season (18-32-50), joining Auston Matthews (31-24-55) and Mitchell Marner (17-28-55).
The Maple Leafs became the first team to have three rookies reach the 50-point mark in a season since the Winnipeg Jets in 1992-93, when Teemu Selanne (76-56-132), Alexei Zhamnov (25-47-72) and Keith Tkachuk (28-23-51) each did so.
The Blackhawks are beginning to pull away atop the Central and the Western Conference, opening a three-point lead. Back-up goalie Scott Darling is riding a five-game winning streak. Chicago is 15-3-0 since Feb. 2 and are 2-0 on their three-game Canadian road trip.
Pick: The Leafs (+100) and the over (5)
The stumbling Capitals, who have lost five of six, will welcome back forward Andre Burakvosky after a 15-game absence due to a hand injury. The Capitals have allowed 19 goals in their last six games while scoring more than twice just once in the past seven games.
Despite Thursday’s 5-0 loss to Toronto that ended their four-game win streak and six-game (5-0-1) point streak, the Lightning are still a solid 7-1-2 in their last 10 games.
Pick: The Lightning (+117) and the over (5)
Suddenly hot again, the Blue Jackets have moved to within two points of the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference-leading Washington Capitals.
Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has won six games in a row and with 11 goals, Zach Werenski is within one of the team record for defensemen of 12, set by Bryan Berard in 2005-06.
The Islanders are 20-10-6 at the Barclays Center but have lost two straight at home. The Isles have been treading water of late, going 5-5-1 in their last 11 games. Rookie Josh Ho-Sang has eight points in seven games since being recalled from the minors.
Pick: The Blue Jackets (-120) and the under (6)