The Toronto Maple Leafs will host the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night. Both of these teams come in riding a three-game winning streak. Tampa Bay went on the road and took down Pittsburgh 5-1 on Tuesday and then came home and beat Arizona 5-1 on Thursday and Washington 3-2 on Monday. The Maple Leafs beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in overtime last Wednesday on the road. Toronto then returned home and beat Detroit 5-4 on Saturday and Las Vegas 4-0 on Tuesday.
Tampa Bay is currently tied for the third-best odds to win the Stanley Cup this season at +900, according to Bovada. Currently, the Lighting are 5-3-1 overall, good for a three-way tie for second place in the Atlantic division with Buffalo and Toronto. Against the puck line, the Lighting are just 3-6 this season.
Toronto is 5-4-1 overall and currently tied for sixth in the NHL with +1200 odds to win the Stanley Cup.
The Mape Leafs are 27th with a 7.23 average shooting percentage, ranking 22nd with 2.5 goals per game. Toronto has scored on 17.86% of its power-play opportunities, ranking 21st in the NHL. Defensively Toronto is 13th with an 84.38 penalty kill percentage and 16th, allowing 2.9 goals per game.
Tampa Bay is 10th in the NHL, averaging 3.22 goals per game and 22nd scoring on 16.67 percent of its power-play chances. The Lighting are 23rd, also allowing 3.22 goals per game, and 14th with an 83.87 penalty kill percentage.
Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning +118 and UNDER 6
Both teams are going into this game on a roll, but I will back the defending Stanley Cup Champions for plus money. The Lightning are 8-3 in their last 11 games as an underdog, and their goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy is 3-0 with 2.57 Goals Against Average on the road in the year. On the other side, the Maple Leafs have lost their last five games against a team with a winning record, and just 2-5 in their previous seven games when playing on just one day of rest. Even though I like the Lightning here, the Maple Leaf’s Goaltender Jack Campbell should help make this game interesting. At home, Campbell is 3-0 with a 0.98 Goals Against Average and 96.1 Save Percentage. Take Tampa Bay and the under.
The Pittsburgh Penguins will host the Philadelphia Flyers in the Battle of Pennsylvania on Thursday night. These teams have been playing each other since 1967, with Philadelphia holding a 183-117-30-11 all-time advantage.
Last season these interstate Metropolitan Division foes met eight times, with Philadelphia winning five times outright and covering the puck line seven times.
The Flyers are fifth in the division with a 5-2-1 record and 5-3 against the Puck Line. Pittsburgh is 3-3-2, seventh in the Metropolitan, and 4-4 against the puckline.
The Penguins come into this game on a three-game losing streak, with each loss coming on their home ice. Pittsburgh’s last game was on Saturday when they lost 4-2 as a -153 favorite against the New Jersey Devils. The Penguins currently have four players out for issues related to COVID-19, including two-time Hart Memorial Trophy winner (league MVP) Sidney Crosby.
Pittsburgh averages 3.2 goals per game, ranking ninth in the NHL and 19th, allowing 3.0 goals per contest. The Penguins are ninth with a +3.38 shot differential per game and first with an outstanding 94.7% of penalty kills.
The Flyers are averaging 3.5 goals per game, the sixth-best total in the NHL, and 10th allowing 2.5 goals per contest. On Tuesday, the Flyers won for the third time in four games, taking down the Arizona Coyotes 3-0 as a -228 moneyline favorite and also covering the +114 puck line.
Pick: Philadelphia Flyers +118
While the Penguins will be at home and anxious to end a three-game losing streak, the Flyers have been the better team so far and come at an excellent price here. The Flyers have won five of their last seven games and three of their five games as an underdog this season. I wouldn’t recommend laying the juice here on a Pittsburgh team that has lost four of its last five games overall, including losing the last three times they have been a straight-up favorite. Take the Flyers.
The Orlando Magic will host the Boston Celtics on Wednesday in a battle between two struggling teams. The Magic were expected to struggle this season. According to most sportsbooks, Orlando came in with a projected over/under win total of 22.5, the lowest in the NBA. The Celtics have much higher expectations, as their over/under projected win total of 45.5 was sixth-best in the Eastern Conference.
On Monday, the Celtics dropped their third straight game, losing 128-114 at home to the Chicago Bulls. Boston was outscored 39-11 in the fourth quarter, after leading by 19 points with just 2:53 left in the third quarter. According to ESPN Stats & Info, it was the first time in the shot-clock era (1954-55) that a team lost by 14+ points after leading by 14+ points entering the fourth quarter.
After the loss, guard Marcus Smart called out the Celtics young stars. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown for not passing the ball more.
On Monday, the Orlando Magic came from behind and snapped a four-game losing streak by upsetting the Minnesota Timberwolves 115-97. Cole Anthony led the charge with a season-high 31 points and eight assists. Orlando trailed Minnesota by six entering the fourth quarter but outscored the Timberwolves 43-19 in the final quarter to get the victory.
Pick: Boston Celtics -6.5
The records may be similar, but the Celtics are the much better team here; they just haven’t shown it yet. The Celtics were embarrassed in their loss to the Bulls and have dropped three straight, so I plan them to come out against the Magic, as motivated as they have in any other game this season. Orlando picked up a rare victory on Monday, but don’t expect to see back-to-back wins here. The Magic are just 4-11 against the spread in their last 15 games and 1-9-1 against the spread in their last 11 home games.
Expect Boston to exercise some frustration and get a much-needed victory, covering the spread Wednesday night.
The Colorado Avalanche will host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday in an interconference match-up. Colorado is tied for fourth in the Central Division with a 4-4 record, but just 2-6 against the puck line. The Blue Jackets are fifth in the Metropolitan Divison with a 5-3 record and 4-4 against the Puck Line.
These teams have not met since February 8, 2020, when the Avalanche won 2-1 as a -143 road favorite.
After losing three straight games, the Avalanche have won three out of their last four games and two in a row after beating the Minnesota Wild 4-1 as a -154 home favorite on Friday. Colorado averages 2.9 goals per game, ranking 15th in the NHL and 28th on the other end, allowing 3.4 goals per contest. The Avalanche have struggled, scoring on only 12.9% of their power play opportunities this season, ranking 28th, and killing 81.8% of their opponents’ power-play chances for 16th in the NHL.
The Columbus Blue Jackets bounced back from a 4-0 loss to the New York Rangers on Friday by defeating the New Jersey Devils 4-3 in a shootout On Sunday. The Blue Jackets are allowing and scoring exactly 2.75 goals per game this season. Columbus is ninth in the NHL, scoring on 25% of its power-play chances while ranking 21st on the other end with 77.8% penalty kills.
Pick: Colorado -1.5 (+116)
The Avalanche have momentum on their side, coming off of consecutive wins against St. Louis and Minnesota, two of the best teams in the NHL. The home ice will also play a significant factor, as Colorado has only lost twice in regulation out of its last 26 home games. This season, the Blue Jackets had dropped their first two road games before Sunday’s shootout win. Columbus’ two road losses were to the New York Rangers 4-0 and 4-1 to the Detroit Red Wings.
I expect the Avalanche to get another deceive victory here, winning by more than a goal.
The Miami Heat are off to a 5-1 start overall and against the spread. The Dallas Mavericks are 4-2 overall and 2-4 against the spread.
After an embarrassing 106-75 road loss to Denver on the second night of a back-to-back, the Mavericks bounced back with a 105-99 win as a four-point home favorite against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday. The Miami Heat are riding a four-game winning steak into Dallas after a dominant 129-103 road victory as a 3.5-point underdog to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday.
Through six games, the Miami Heat have been the most balanced team in the NBA on both ends, ranking third offensively, scoring 114 ppg, sixth shooting 46.3% from the floor, and ninth knocking down 34.7% of their threes. Jimmy Butler’s 25.3 points and 2.8 steals per game lead the team, and he is also grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out 5.5 assists per contest. Tyler Hero is next up, averaging 22 ppg off the bench, and Bam Adebayo is averaging 20.6 ppg and fourth in the NBA, grabbing 14 rebounds per game. Adebayo is listed as questionable for Tuesday with a knee contusion, which will be a big blow to the Heat if he cannot play.
The Heat are second in the NBA in defensive scoring, holding opponents to just 97 ppg, and first holding opponents to shooting 39% from the floor.
The Dallas Mavericks have a winning record despite a -4.7 point differential this season, as they are 28th averaging 98.3 ppg and 30th shooting 40.4% from the field offensively. Defensively Dallas is eighth in the NBA, allowing 103 ppg, and 14th with opponents shooting 44.2 % from the floor. As usual, 22-yard old superstar Luka Doncic leads the team averaging 22.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 7.5 assists per game. After Luka, all other Dallas players are averaging less than 14 ppg this season.
Kristapa Porzingis, who has averaged 12.7 points and six rebounds in three games, is questionable for Tuesday.
Pick Miami Heat-2
The Dallas Mavericks have struggled, ranking 27th in the NBA in offensive efficiency, making this a bad matchup against a Heat team that leads the NBA in defensive efficiency. Dallas has been solid on the other end of the floor, ranking 12th in team defensive efficiency, but the Heat have been better, ranking fourth in offensive efficiency.
The Heat have covered the spread in four straight games, and Dallas has dropped its last six games against the spread when coming off a straight-up win. I will take the Heat to cover here.
The Montreal Canadiens will host the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday in an Atlantic Division match-up. In the division, Detroit comes into the game with a 4-3-2 record overall and an impressive 7-2 record against the Puck Line. The Canadiens are last in the eight-team division with a 2-8 record and 3-7 against the Pluck Line.
These teams have already met once this season, with Montreal winning at home 6-1 as a -182 home favorite on October 23.
Detroit will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak after falling to Florida 3-2 at home Thursday and 5-4 to Toronto on the road Friday. The Red Wings are averaging 3.22 goals per game and allowing 3.44. Unfortunately, the Red Wings will face Montreal without left-wing Tyler Bertuzzi ( 6 goals, 3 assists), tied for the team lead with nine points in seven games. Bertuzzi also did not play in the loss to Toronto due to Canadian provincial regulations regarding COVID-19. He is projected to return to the lineup on Thursday in Boston. Right-wing Lucas Raymond has played in all nine games for Detroit this season and also has nine points (4 goals, 5 assists)
After ending last season by advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals and losing in five games to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Canadiens got off to a terrible start dropping their first five games. Montreal has struggled to score, averaging just 1.9 goals per game, which is fourth-worst in the NHL, while allowing 3.4 goals per game, tied for the fourth-most. Left-wing Jonathan Drouin leads the team with seven points (2 goals, 5 assists) and had two assists against the Red Wings in the Canadieans’ first win of the season.
Pick: OVER 5.5
Despite being one of the worst offensive teams in the NHL so far, the total has gone over in four of the last five Canadiens games, with at least six combined goals scored in those contests. I expect to see a stronger offensive performance from Montreal in this game, as they face a Red Wings team that they put up six goals against just over a week ago and has allowed the third-highest amount of goals per game this season. The Red Wings are also no slouch offensively, as they have scored three goals or more in three of their last four games.