NHL Best Bets: Can Maple Leafs Reverse Home Curse vs Coyotes?

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Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Greetings, hockey fans. After a busier-than-usual Monday in the NHL, there are 11 games on the schedule tonight. Five teams are playing for the second night in a row, including the Lightning, who face off against the Penguins in the premier matchup of the night. Other notable matchups on tap include a battle between the Coyotes and Maple Leafs in Toronto, the Blackhawks taking on the Oilers and the Stars hosting the Hurricanes.

There’s plenty to wager on, but let’s take a closer look at two games in particular. Here are my two best bets for Tuesday:

Arizona Coyotes vs. Toronto Maple Leafs: Under 6 goals (+100)

The Coyotes and Maple Leafs don’t play often, but a strange trend has developed. Arizona has absolutely dominated the Maple Leafs in Toronto over the last several years. The Maple Leafs haven’t beaten the Coyotes inside Scotiabank Arena since December of 2013 (a 2-1 shootout victory). Going back even farther, Toronto is 1-6-2 at home against the Coyotes since the 2004-05 full-season lockout.

So what’s the takeaway here? That we should pump the breaks on what some assume will be a blowout victory for the Maple Leafs. Sure, the Coyotes are playing their second game in as many nights after beating Montreal 3-2 in comeback fashion on Monday. Sure, Arizona hasn’t played consistently well for awhile now and goaltending is still a question mark after starter Darcy Kuemper re-injured himself in warm-ups on Monday. But these games have almost always turned into nightmares for Toronto and are consistently low scoring.

The total for tonight’s game is set at 6 goals with juice on the over. But how many of these TOR/AZ games have actually had more than six goals recently? Dating back to 2011, only two of the last 14 meetings have had seven or more goals scored. In their only meeting this season, the final score was 3-1 Toronto. Their two meetings last year had a combined eight goals.

The Maple Leafs have averaged 3.0 goals per game in their last nine. The Coyotes have averaged 2.7 goals per game in the same time frame and just 2.2 goals per game in the second game of a back-to-back this season. I expect another low-scoring affair here even though Toronto is poised to reverse the home curse versus Arizona.

Ottawa Senators vs. Colorado Avalanche: Avalanche -1.5 (-110)

This matchup features two teams heading in opposite directions currently and for the season as a whole. The Senators have lost five in a row and have the third-worst record in the NHL at 18-26-11. They also have the third-worst road record in the league at 6-16-5. On the other hand, the Avalanche have won four in a row, have the seventh-best record in the NHL overall and the 11th-best record at home.

This is a complete mismatch, pitting the highest-scoring team in the NHL against the team that allows the third-most goals. When these two teams played five days ago in Ottawa, it resulted in the expected score of 4-1 Colorado. We could see a very similar score yet again.

There’s little value in taking the Avalanche moneyline at -280, so let’s play the puckline at -100 odds. Of note, Colorado has won three straight home games by two goals or more while three of Ottawa’s five consecutive losses have come by multiple goals.

Season Record: 29-30-1 (-2.83 units)