NBC Afternoon POWER-HOUSE ~ *RED HOT* 48-28-1 NHL Run!
Detroit vs. Toronto,
01/01/2017 15:00 EDT,
Score: 4 - 5
Money Line: -151 Toronto
8* Toronto (3:05 ET): It's an "Original Six" matchup on New Year's Day (outdoors!) w/ the Maple Leafs hosting the Red Wings. Sadly, for both, there's now 30 teams in the league and neither would be among the top eight in the East. That means no playoffs, but fortunately there's a long way to go and in the case of Toronto there are signs of a potential late season surge. They have a positive goal differential over the course of the year, typically a strong indicator of future results. While it's only +4, the team has won four straight and is doing a heck of a lot better than Detroit right now. The once proud Red Wings are in danger in seeing their historic playoff streak snapped as they are ahead of only Buffalo in the Atlantic. I'll be on the "home team" in this one.
This game will be played at BMO Field (home of the CFL's Argonauts). While past outdoor games have shown to minimize "home ice" advantage, Toronto enters w/ confidence here having won four straight - all on the road. They've totaled 16 goals during the win streak and now rank 6th in the league in goals per game (2.9). This is a team that puts plenty of shots on goal as in 34.0 per game, which ranks second in the league (only trailing Pittsburgh). For years, the issue here was LIMITING shots and while it still persists, at least they can now lean on Frederik Andersen between the pipes. He has a .925 save percentage for the year and has been even hotter of late at .959 his L4 starts!
What's interesting about the Red Wings is that they are 7-10-3 at home, but 9-6-1 on the road. Yet, that road record is a bit deceiving. They're actually being outscored (by about 0.5 goals per game) away from the Motor City. They did win at Ottawa on Thursday, but that game went to overtime. The power play here is the worst in the league (12 percent) and overall the team is 26th in goals per game. Goaltending has been a major sore spot all year as the collective save percentage of Red Wings' goaltenders is just .907. Jared Coreau has come on strong late for them, but it's still a limited sample size w/ him (only three starts). This is the first meeting of this season between these two and also the first time in forever that you can say the Leafs are clearly the better side. 8* Toronto