Toronto Maple Leafs at Florida Panthers
Offence versus defence here as often goal-shy Florida welcome the NHL's top scorers. An extended road trip means we're getting a nice insight into the Leafs' true credentials after they powered into contention, the jury is out so far after losing to Chicago then beating Dallas each by 4-0 scorelines. It's true that Florida could leapfrog them if they won all their games in hand, only two regulation defeats in the last ten has kept them well in the hunt for a potential playoff spot too.
Jimmy Hayes and Sean Bergenheim were the architects of the Cats' success against Pittsburgh on Monday, Hayes would likely be the team's leading scorer had he been available the whole time and could be a good pick at 4.25 to score at any time. With the clash of styles on show I think it's up to Toronto to start quickly, the longer the game stays scoreless the more I'd be leaning towards Florida because they employ a very structured strategy 5 on 5 and don't make many mistakes. A close call this one and that shows up in the odds, to me the value is with the Panthers at 2.45.
Vancouver Canucks at Anaheim Ducks
The Ducks are unrelenting and when every other division leader is no more than a win in front their nine point gap back to 2nd in the Pacific gives them great security. For a long time Vancouver were their closest challengers but five losses in a row through the middle of this month has put them back into the mix with San Jose and LA. Successive wins at least mean the Canucks are looking up once more and they've enjoyed a lavish six days off since thrashing Arizona on Monday so can have little excuses about fatigue. Anaheim dropped to those same Coyotes last night via the shootout but edged both clashes in November in the same manner which is typical of their penchant for one goal games.
This remains a significant occasion for Ryan Kesler and Nick Bonino to face their former employers, neither has managed to notch a goal in those previous games but it still adds to the atmosphere in the building. Ryan Getzlaf was one to net last time they met and his scoring tear goes on as the Anaheim captain bids to take his point streak to eight, in this mood I'd really back him to get on top of the Sedin twins with the top lines likely to have a big say in how this turns out. Only Nashville have fewer home defeats than the Ducks and I'm taking them to send the Honda Center crowd home happy tonight.
Best Bet: Anaheim Ducks to win at 2.12.