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

NHL: Toronto vs Detroit Pick

Saturday night hockey will feature a match up between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Cappers Picks will provide free NHL picks all season so check back in often.

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Toronto vs. Detroit
When: Saturday Oct 18 2014 at 7:00 pm ET
Where: Joe Louis Arena
NHL ATS Gambling Line: Red Wings -1.5
NHL O/U Line: 5.5
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It’s an original six match up on Hockey Night in Canada (in Detroit) on Saturday when Atlantic Division foes Toronto and Detroit clash. The task of picking this game is an unenviable one for me as these teams play Friday night and at the time of writing this, that game has yet to happen.

Back to back home and home games are always tough to pick, especially when the first game has yet to be played, but I will do my best to fill you in on what I know as best I can.

Maple Leafs

Let’s start out with the road team. Coach Randy Carlyle’s job seems safe for the time being after leafs fans were calling for his head following an embarrassing performance a week ago against the Penguins in a 5-2 defeat.

The team responded well to whatever message Carlyle sent and mauled the New York Rangers the following night by a 6-3 count and then went on to defeat the Colorado Avalanche in OT by a 3-2 margin.

Shake ups were made by Carlyle who opted to scratch Jake Gardiner (who is slated to start Friday’s game in place of Stephan Robidas) and James Reimer was given the nod in back to back starts over opening day starter Jonathan Bernier.

Reimer is the scheduled starter for Friday’s game, making it three straight for the netminder who has spent much of the last calendar year riding backseat behind Bernier.

This likely means that Bernier will get the start in Detroit on Saturday and he will need to bring his top game as Carlyle seems to be leaning slightly towards Reimer at the moment.

The Leafs’ top line of Tyler Bozak, Phil Kessel and James Van Riemsdyk busted out in a big way in the team’s last two wins combining for seven points against the Rangers and five against the Avalanche.

When the top line is going the Leafs are tough to beat but they’re going to need some contribution from their second and third lines.

Red Wings

The Wings hold a respectable (1-1-1) record (as of Friday) and have done that against last year’s President’s Trophy winners the Boston Bruins and the President’s Trophy runner up (and my pick to win the Stanley Cup) Anaheim Ducks.

As with pretty much every Wings team of the Mike Babcock era, this team is well coached and very well organized.

Management needs some credit too as this team is not littered with superstars and their horses like Pavel Datsyuk (injured), Johan Franzen and Henrik Zetterberg are getting long in the tooth.

This team has stockpiled its shelves with a squad of very good young players, led by last year’s breakout player of the year (my opinion) Gustav Nyquist.

Players like Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco and Tomas Tatar may not be household names outside of Michigan but they’re all quality hockey players who play the game the right way under Babcock’s system.

Jimmy Howard has been very solid in his first three starts, holding a 1.95 GAA and a .927 SV%.

The 30 year old netminder stole his team a point against the Bruins on Wednesday, registering 37 saves in a shootout loss. Howard is slated to get the start on Friday so it’s likely that former Leafs goalie Jonas Gustaavsson will get the nod on Saturday night.

Maple Leafs vs. Red Wings 4* Free Pick

The Wings had the Leafs’ number last year in their first season in the same conference in nearly two decades, winning three of their four meetings. In their first two meetings a season ago, the winner was decided via shootout. The Wings won the third game 3-2 and the fourth 4-2.

Count on this one to be another tight game as the Wings have settled all three games by just one goal.

The 1.5 goal spread likely won’t be reached so go with Toronto in this one.

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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.