NHL Preview 7-9/11

Toronto’s road record demonstrates why the Maple Leafs remain the 6.50 favourites to win the Stanley Cup, but for some reason they have been unable to transfer that form to the Scotiabank Arena.

Leafs looking to find home comforts

Mike Babcock’s men boast a perfect 6-0 record away from home, shutting out the Penguins 5-0 in Pittsburgh on their most recent trip, but they have lost more than they have won in front of their own fans, and remain second in the Atlantic Division standings, three points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Ottawa Senators, Penguins, St Louis Blues, Dallas Stars and Calgary Flames have all won at the Scotiabank Arena, with the Leafs winning just three of eight on home territory.

Next up is a home clash against Vegas Golden Knights and there is a case to suggest that there is value in both sides of the betting, given Toronto’s home record.

The Leafs, still without leading goalscorer Auston Matthews, are 1.76 favourites to get the win, while last season’s Stanley Cup runners’ up are on offer at 2.15.

Vegas have made an inauspicious start to the season, with only Los Angeles Kings below them in the Pacific Division standings, but do at least go into a tough-looking match-up on the back of a win, blanking Carolina Panthers 3-0 last time out.

However, if there is a case against Toronto’s home record, the same could be said of the Knights’ form on the road, as they have won just two of seven away from the T-Mobile Arena. Goals are also a problem, as they have scored the second fewest in the league.

Ducks can darken new dawn in LA

There is an interesting match-up at the Staples Center, as the Los Angeles Kings begin a new era after parting ways with John Stevens following a terrible start to the season.

The Kings have won just four of their opening 13 games to sit dead last in the league standings on nine points, having played two games more than the Florida Panthers, who also have just nine points.

The 2012 and 2014 Stanley Cup winners are last in the league on goals scored and goals per game, on 28 and 2.15 respectively, and it was perhaps no surprise that they opted for a change at the top.

Willie Desjardins is the new man at the helm, and will be joined by former Kings star Marco Sturm as his assistant next week, with Anaheim Ducks first on the agenda.

Los Angeles do have home advantage – they have been particularly awful on the road – and go into the contest having won two of their last three games, beating Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 at the Staples Center last time out.

However, with star goaltender Jonathan Quick sidelined for up to six weeks, there appears to be some value in taking on the 1.76 favourites.

The Ducks are priced at 2.15 to secure a win and although they recently endured a seven-game losing streak, snapped by a 3-2 overtime win over the Blue Jackets on Sunday, they have still shown enough this season to be worthy of consideration to capitalise on the Kings’ troubles.

Pens road form key for Capital trip

Another mouth-watering clash looms in the early hours of Thursday morning as Sydney Crosby takes his off-colour Pittsburgh Penguins, priced at 15.00 to go all the way, to Alexander Ovechkin’s free-scoring Washington Capitals.

Goals have not been a problem for the defending Stanley Cup champions – 17.00 to repeat – this season as they lead the league, scoring 3.77 goals per game, while their powerplay at 36.6% also tops the NHL.

However, their offensive prowess has not been matched by their defensive quality and that will at least give the misfiring Pens a chance at the Capital One Arena.

Whether it will be enough of a chance remains to be seen as they go into the game on a four-game winless streak.

However, it is worth noting that their road form has been better than at home – winning four of six with the other two games ending in shootout losses, while they defeated the Caps at the PPG Paints Arena in a high-scoring thriller in their season opener, 7-6 in overtime.