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

NHL: New York vs Toronto Pick

Hockey Night in Canada action on Saturday night features a match up between the New York Rangers (6-4-2) and the Toronto Maple Leafs (6-5-2) at the Air Canada Centre. Cappers Picks will provide free NHL picks all season so check back in often.

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New York vs. Toronto
When: Saturday, Nov 8 2014 at 7:00 pm ET
Where: Air Canada Centre
TV: CBC
NHL ATS Gambling Line: Leafs -1.5
NHL O/U Line: 5.5
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A pair of Eastern Conference teams that are sitting on the bubble will square off on Saturday night when the Rangers pay a visit to the Maple Leafs in the early Hockey Night in Canada feature match up. It’s been an up and down start for both of these teams who have had spells of strong play to go along with some droughts and losing skids.

The Rangers are coming off a win, just their second in their last five games, while the Leafs are returning home from a mini two-game road trip where they were only able to snag a single point between Arizona and Colorado.

While it’s still a bit early to be making end of season projections, where these two teams are currently sitting in the Eastern Conference standings is very likely where they’ll be when the finish line is in sight, fighting to hang in the playoff picture. Let’s take a look at how these teams will stack up on Saturday.

Rangers

After a pretty improbable run to the Stanley Cup finals a year ago, the Rangers are back to playing about where they can be expected, right around .500 hockey. Rick Nash has been brilliant for the blue shirts so far and sits second in the NHL in goal scoring with 10 goals in 12 games.

The drop off in secondary scoring is fairly steep after Nash however as the team’s second leading scorer Derek Brassard has just five goals, and veteran Martin St. Louis sits third with four.

It’s been another slow start in goal for netminder Henrik Lundqvist who seems to make a habit of getting his shaky play out of his system early on.

King Henrik is a top three goalie in the NHL and you wouldn’t get too many sideways looks if you said he’s the best in the business, but right now Hank has been average at best. With two shutouts in just 10 starts you’d expect Lundqvist to be among the league leaders in most any statistical category, but his GAA is a pedestrian 2.86 and his SV% is even less impressive at .901.

He’s had his struggles against the Leafs so look for Cam Talbot to get the start in his place on Saturday.

Injuries have been a burden on the Rangers early on as top line forward Derek Stepan hasn’t suited up this season due to a leg injury, though he’s expected to make his debut against the Leafs. Veteran D-man Dan Boyle is still out with a broken hand and another blueliner who logs big minutes Ryan McDonagh is out with a shoulder problem.

Maple Leafs

Speaking of injuries, they keep mounting up for the Leafs as well, losing both Daniel Winnik and Jake Gardiner in their game against the Avalanche on Thursday to head/neck and knee injuries respectively.

What this means is that Morgan Rielly will likely figure back into the picture on defense after being scratched on Thursday. Up front the depth is going to be hurting without Winnik who has provided some serviceable minutes on nearly every line and has been one of the club’s best penalty killers.

Carter Ashton is unavailable to fill in due to a suspension and forwards David Booth, Joffrey Lupul and Brandon Kozun are all on the IR.

As far as the team on the ice goes, the Leafs have been on a roller coaster where they’ll win a few games and look great then lose a few and look poor. You don’t get many games with this team where they’ll play lousy and win, and to the same token they’ve only really played half decent in one or two of their losses this season. It really depends on what team shows up on what night that determines how the game will go.

Jonathan Bernier is expected to get the start in goal for the Leafs for the second straight game after backing up James Reimer for two straight. Bernier’s 2.59 GAA and .916 SV% are both respectable numbers but he hasn’t really stolen a game for the Leafs yet this year the way he did much of last season.

The goalie who is in his second season as the team’s starter will have to be on top of his game Saturday for the battered Leafs to have a chance.

Rangers vs. Leafs 4* Free Pick

The Leafs went into Madison Square Garden on Canadian Thanksgiving and absolutely demolished the Rangers to the tune of 6-3, and chased Henrik Lundqvist from the net in the process.

Don’t expect the same result here as the Rangers are going to be out to prove that the last game was nothing more than an off game for their star goalie. Pick the Rangers against the 1.5 spread for the Leafs paying -300, and I don’t mind the Rangers outright to win on the money line paying +110.

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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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