January 23, 2014 at 2:33 PM #53120
Qbin Missile CrisisKeymaster
Leafs Aim for Seventh Straight – Visit Stars Thursday Night
Just when everyone starts writing off the Toronto Maple Leafs they come up with a surge that keeps the hockey world talking. The Leafs look to make it seven straight wins Thursday night when they travel to Dallas to take on a Stars team that has struggled mightily the last two weeks. Dallas enters Thursday’s contest in the midst of a 1-9-1 stretch but are coming off a 4-0 win against Minnesota Tuesday night.
Toronto (27-20-1-4) at Dallas (22-20-4-4)
When: 8:00 PM ET, Thursday, January 23, 2014
Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
Broadcast: TSN, FS-SW
Leafs vs. Stars Betting Lines from betonline.com
Toronto Maple Leafs +1½ -245 +126 Ov 6 +104
Dallas Stars -1½ +205 -139 Un 6 -115
The Maple Leafs have turned things around since an unflattering four game losing streak and have won six straight ahead of Thursday night’s clash. The reason for the turnaround? Goals for and against. The Leafs surrendered 4.8 goals per game during their slide but have since outscored their opposition 25-15.
The Leafs big guns have caught fire. Phil Kessel is in the midst of a seven-game point streak with six goals and eight assists over that span – five goals in their last four games. Kessel combined with linemates James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak for three goals and three assists in an impressive win over Colorado Tuesday. Van Riemsdyk has six goals and six assists in his past 13 contests, Nazem Kadri has two goals and four assists in four games, Jake Gardiner has three points in two games, Joffrey Lupul has four points in three games, Mason Raymond has four points in four games and Cody Franson has three points in his last three games.
Things are good for the Leafs offensively and the goaltending is holding up its end of the bargain as well. Jonathan Bernier is 4-0-0 with a 2.45 GAA and .925 save percentage in his last four games and James Reimer is 2-0-0 with a 2.24 GAA and .925 save percentage in his last two starts.
The Dallas Stars need to figure something out quick! They are mired in a 1-9-1 stretch in which the goal scoring has dried up and the goaltending has been less-than-spectacular.
The Stars enter Thursday’s game having scored two or fewer goals in six of the previous seven games. Nobody is lighting the lamp with any regularity at the moment which has led to Dallas’s freefall in the standings.
But Shawn Horcoff had a goal and an assist in the previous game against Toronto and has seven points (one goal, six assists) in his past seven games against the Atlantic Division team and one of the worst power plays in the game is finally starting to come around. The Starts have scored with the man advantage in five straight games and is the only reason the Stars have been competitive the last couple of weeks.
Goaltender Kari Lehtonen has been a colossal disappointment. He lost six of seven starts with a 3.51 GAA before recording the shutout against Minnesota Tuesday night. Lehtonen should get the start Thursday looking to build on the only glimmer of optimism he’s has in the last couple of weeks.
Betting Prediction: A few trends to consider:
• Over is 22-8-3 in TOR last 33 overall.
• TOR are 5-12 in their last 17 road games.
• DAL are 2-9 in their last 11 games following a win.
• DAL are 2-9 in their last 11 overall.
• Over is 6-2 in DAL last 8 vs. Eastern Conference.
The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Dallas Starts are headed in totally opposite directions. The Stars are in the tank while the Leafs are playing with a ton of confidence in both ends of the rink. The Leafs won the only meeting of the season thanks to a terrific effort from Jonathan Bernier who is playing arguably his best hockey of the season. I’ll take the road dog to extend their impressive win streak Thursday as the Leafs leave the Stars looking for answers to their unprecedented woes.
Pick: Toronto Maple Leafs +126
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