Season Sweep Bruin for Leafs?
The Toronto Maple Leafs have their eye on a very satisfying season sweep as they tangle with the division-rival Boston Bruins at Air Canada Centre on Monday night. Both teams are jockeying for position in the Eastern Conference playoff race, and a win would carry great significance for the Leafs as they cling to the second wild-card berth entering the week. Toronto has dominated the season set, out scoring the Bruins 14-7 over the first three games. The Leafs haven’t won four straight games against Boston since 1967, the year they last captured the Stanley Cup.
Rangers Reeling vs. Rival Isles
One of the most heated geographical rivalries in hockey resumes Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden when the New York Rangers entertain an Islanders team chasing the pack for an Eastern Conference wild card spot. The Isles enter Monday just one point behind the Leafs for the second wild card, and have recent history squarely on their side in Wednesday’s tilt. They have victories in nine of the previous 12 games between the teams, with four of the previous five contests playing to the Over. They have also scored three or more goals six straight times vs. the Rangers.
Another Wild Result vs. Canucks?
Take a good hard look at the recent history between the Canucks and Wild before taking a shot at a totals wager when these two teams meet Saturday afternoon in Minnesota. While the Wild have one of the best goal prevention units in the NHL – and the Canucks can’t seem to score away from Vancouver – these teams have filled the scoresheet in their last four games, averaging a combined 8.3 goals per contest to hit the Over each time. Don’t be surprised to see this game boast a 5.5 or even a 6, despite the Wild’s elite D and Vancouver’s road struggles.
* The loss of defenseman Christian Folin to an arm injury has played a role in the Wild’s recent defensive problems. Minnesota has dropped seven of eight games in Folin’s absence and has allowed three or more goals seven times in that span.
* Devils winger Michael Cammalleri remains sidelined with an upper-body injury that has limited him to just one game this month. New Jersey has lost seven of eight games without him and has scored two or fewer goals five times over that stretch.
* Sidney Crosby is at it again, potting a natural hat trick to reach the 40-goal plateau in the Penguins’ 4-0 triumph over Florida on Sunday. The Pens are a scorching 20-1-2 SU and 16-6-1 O/U in games in which Crosby records multiple points.
* Brad Marchand’s magnificent March has had an impact on both the Bruins’ playoff push and its totals record. Marchand enters Monday with nine goals and four assists this month, during which Boston has gone 5-3 SU and 5-2-1 O/U.
* Has Devan Dubnyk fallen out of Vezina Trophy contention? The Minnesota goalie is a dismal 2-6-0 with a 2.61 goals-against average so far this month, and is just 9-9-0 with a 2.67 GAA since the All-Star break. The six losses are his most in any month.
Stanley Cup Futures
* Don’t look now, but the Columbus Blue Jackets are making a charge for the best record in hockey. The Blue Jackets extended their winning streak to four games with a 4-1 win over New Jersey on Sunday, and enter the week tied with the Washington Capitals at a league-best 100 points. This latest surge has Columbus installed at +950 to win its first Stanley Cup title, according to Sports Interaction.
* A late-season collapse has had an impact on the Wild’s odds of winning the league title for the first time. Minnesota finds itself at +600 as of Monday, the second-best odds in the Western Conference and fourth-best in the league. But things might be getting better down the stretch for the Wild, who will play seven of their final 11 regular-season games in the friendly confines of Xcel Energy Center.
* It’s a bad time for a rough stretch from the Ottawa Senators (+1,300) who have one of the toughest remaining schedules in the league. The Sens enter the week having lost four straight games, including back-to-back contests to the division-leading Canadiens – and with eight of their final 11 games on the road, and two of their three home games coming against the Pens and Rangers, it could be tough sledding in Ottawa.
* Low-scoring games have become the norm for the St. Louis Blues, who enter the week having gone 3-8-2 O/U in their previous 13 games. The Over drought has moved the Blues back to even on the season at 30-30-11 O/U.
* The Tampa Bay Lightning are coming off their longest Under stretch of 2016-17, putting together seven in a row before seeing that streak come to an end in Saturday’s 5-3 setback to Washington. Tampa Bay is now 31-33-7 O/U for the season.