by Greg Dempson
Western Canadians have various names for Canada’s largest city, Toronto, Ontario! It is commonly referred to as the “Big Smoke” while many Canucks refer to Toronto as the “Centre of the Universe,” while some call southern Ontario, “The Golden Triangle.” Well, regardless of what we call Toronto, southern Ontario will be buzzing tonight and the sports bars will indeed be packed as the Toronto Maple Leafs are back in the playoffs. Tonight’s host is the Washington Capitals, winners of the NHL Presidents Trophy for the third time in eight years. The puck drops at 7:00 ET at the Verizon Center and Washington is a heavy favorite at -224 on the money line or you can lay 1.5 goals for a potential return of +140. The total is 5.5 under at -120 or you can opt for the over at +110 at one of the outs I have.
· What is black and white and seen in the Toronto area? Answer later!
Between the Pipes
· Toronto’s starting goalie has not been confirmed as I submit this article so it will be either Frederik Andersen or Curtis McElhinney, who was drafted #176 back in 2002 by the Calgary Flames. McElhinney started in only 15 games this season going 05-10 to the UNDER with a save percentage of 91.7%. Andersen was held out of their last game due to a bump on his head but I’m guessing he will be in goal tonight as he is their number one goalie. He started 66 games and the one constant was his save percentage at home vs. on the road as it was an identical 91.8%. In his last four starts he allowed 11 goals with the OVER cashing in three out of his last four starts along with a not so impressive save percentage of 88.0%.
· The Capitals will most certainly start Braden Holtby who recorded 8 shutouts in 63 starts with a save percentage of 92.5%. Holtby has 46 start in the post season while allowing only 90 goals for a GAA of 1.87 and a save percentage of 93.7%.
Offense vs. Defense
· Both teams are explosive on offense as Toronto scored an average of 3.1 goals per game on the road while allowing 3.2. Washington averaged 3.3 goals on offense while allowing an average of 1.7. While Washington’s offense gets the accolades, I cannot overlook the fact that defense is often the key to continuing on in the playoffs and the Capitals allowed the fewest goals in the league, (177,) and they also held opponents to the fourth fewest shots at, (2,282.)
Answer to my Trivia Question
· So, what is black and white and seen in the Toronto area? Pictures of the Stanley Cup! The Maple Leafs last won the Cup in the 1966/1967 season which coincided with Canada’s 100th Birthday. (Color pictures weren’t that prominent back then!)