NHL Hockey Betting: Toronto Maple Leafs at Ottawa Senators

NHL Hockey Betting:  Toronto Maple Leafs at Ottawa Senators

The ‘Battle of Ontario’ is at the top of a four game card to get the NHL season underway as the Toronto Maple Leafs make the four and a half hour trip up ON-401 E to Ottawa to face the Senators. Lots of change for both teams during the offseason as the Maple Leafs continue to rebuild under Mike Babcock while the Senators try a new hand after hitting the ‘reset’ button. Both teams missed the playoffs in 2015-2016 though Ottawa won 9 more games than the Leafs. They had much higher expectations, however, and after missing the postseason with a 38-35-9 record owner Eugene Melnyk cleaned house. New GM Pierre Dorion took over the day after the season ended and fired head coach Dave Cameron bringing in Guy Boucher, associate Marc Crawford and an all new coaching staff. The biggest addition to the roster is former NY Rangers’ center Derek Brassard.

Toronto has been to the playoffs only once in the past five seasons (and that was the lockout shortened 2012-2013 season). In the last four full 82 game seasons they’ve turned in increasingly dismal records going from 80 points in 2011-2012, 84 points in 2013-2014, 68 points in 2014-2015 to 69 points last season. There are some signs of hope surrounding the team for the first time in years. Brendan Shanahan was named team president at the end of the 2013-2014 season and spent the following year cleaning up the mess. After the 2014-2015 season he hired Mike Babcock as coach and Lou Lamoriello as GM. The focus has since been divesting the roster of high priced veterans. A lucky bounce of the tennis ball gave them the first round pick in the 2016 draft which was used to select Auston Matthews. If you watched him play on a line with Connor McDavid at the World Cup of Hockey you can understand why there’s some optimism over the team’s future for the first time in years.

Frederik Andersen gets the start in net for Toronto and the former Anaheim Ducks’ starter is a big upgrade in net overt either James Reimer or Jonathan Bernier. Ottawa will start Craig Anderson who looked decent at points last season despite the Senators giving up more shots per game than any team in the league. Former Leafs’ captain Dion Phaneuf came over last season to shore up the defense with Erik Karlsson a huge offensive threat but marginal on the other end of the ice. Senators have won 4 of the last 5 head to head at home and 6 of the last 9 overall. They won all four meetings last season. At this price, we’ll back Toronto to get the season off to a good start.