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NHL Free Pick: Maple Leafs vs. Hurricanes Betting Odds & Handicapping Preview

NHL Lines: Toronto vs Carolina Pick

Thursday night in the NHL will feature a game between the red hot Toronto Maple Leafs (19-9-3) and the Carolina Hurricanes (9-19-3). Cappers Picks will provide free NHL picks all season so check back in often.

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Toronto vs Carolina
When: Thursday Dec. 18 at 7:00 pm EST
Where: PNC Arena
TV: TSN
NHL Gambling Line: Carolina +125 / Toronto -138
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Two teams heading in opposite directions will meet on Thursday night when the Leafs and Hurricanes square off. Toronto is flying high right now, riding a six game win streak that has positioned them right on the cusp of the top three in the Atlantic Division.

The Hurricanes have a six game streak of their own going, unfortunately those are all losses and they’ve found their way to the depths of the basement in the Eastern Conference and the entire NHL.

Maple Leafs

What a turnaround it has been for the Leafs of late. Since their 9-2 thrashing at the hands of the Nashville Predators the Leafs have run off an impressive 10-1-1 stretch and are arguably the hottest team in the NHL right now. The Leafs have been getting it done with a balanced attack up front and some very good goaltending from Jonathan Bernier as well as James Reimer who filled in twice in this six game win streak.

I’m sure you’ve heard of trap games in the NFL and this is very much a trap game for the Leafs as they’ve been beating some very good competition of late, with back to back wins over the Red Wings and Western Conference powerhouses like Los Angeles and Anaheim.

This dramatic step down in level of competition can be very dangerous for a team that’s rolling as they may look at it as a game they can cruise through.

The Leafs will have to be careful not to get into bad habits tonight just because they’re playing a weak opponent, if the Leafs play their game they should win this one easily but Toronto is infamous for playing down to the level of their opponent.

Hurricanes

Carolina isn’t going to make the playoffs this year and it looks as though they’ll be in the running for the first overall pick in next year’s draft. This team doesn’t play horrible hockey and with a -25 goal differential you can argue that they play far better than the Oilers who sit a point ahead in the overall standings but are -40.

The Hurricanes just simply don’t have enough talent on their team to be competitive right now. Young defenseman Justin Faulk is leading the team in scoring with just 17 points and long time Cane Eric Staal is right behind with 16.

Jeff Skinner has been a major disappointment with just 15 points in 26 games and he hasn’t been able to find his game after a slew of injuries/concussions.

You can’t really fault Cam Ward for the team’s struggles as the veteran netminder has posted decent numbers with a 2.54 GAA and .907 SV%, but he’s just not getting a lot of help in front of him. This team is in a six game losing skid as mentioned, but four of those six were by a score of 2-1 so they are playing pretty solid defensively but just not getting a lot of punch up front.

NHL Trends

* Over is 8-2 in TOR last 10 vs. Metropolitan.
* Over is 14-5 in TOR last 19 overall.
* TOR are 5-12 in their last 17 road games.
* Under is 6-1-1 in CAR last 8 overall.
* Under is 18-7-2 in CAR last 27 home games.
* CAR are 20-45 in their last 65 vs. Atlantic.
* TOR are 2-6 in the last 8 meetings.

Leafs vs. Hurricanes 4* Free Pick

This just feels like an off night in the making for the Leafs who have been getting by with wins in games where they haven’t really been the better team. The last time Toronto traveled to Carolina they were beaten 6-1 and while the scoreline may not be that lopsided tonight I think the Hurricanes snap their losing streak while simultaneously ending the Leafs’ winning streak.

Go with the Hurricanes here.

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About Matt Durnan

A (self-proclaimed) fantasy sports guru since 2004 and a journalist since 2007. He has been offering unsolicited sports gambling advice to his circle of friends for years and has now put himself at the mercy of online readers everywhere. "It's not whether you win or lose, it's how much fun you have"... His hockey coach told him that when he was 7. His team lost every game that year.


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