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Streaking Maple Leafs Look To Continue Climb In Carolina While Pittsburgh Takes Mumps Issues In Stride

Posted by Don Melrose on 12/17/2014 7:34:20 AM

While a number of NHL teams deal with the mumps the Toronto Maple Leafs have quietly climbed towards the top of the Eastern Conference standings as the league’s hottest team right now. Toronto has been able to avoid the illness that has plagued a number of teams to this point and they will have an excellent opportunity to build on their strong start against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday. Here is a quick look at the four best bets on the NHL board for Thursday night.

Toronto Maple Leafs @ Carolina Hurricanes

Thursday, 7:00 PM ET

The Maple Leafs have lost just once in regulation over their past 12 games with a pair of impressive wins over the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks in their last two games. The offense is clicking and a greater attention to detail in its own end has made life much easier for netminder Jonathan Bernier. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes have lost six straight with a total of six goals over that slide and that should make for an easy two points for the Maple Leafs on Thursday.

Pick: Toronto

Colorado Avalanche @ Pittsburgh Penguins

Thursday, 7:00 PM ET

Pittsburgh has taken a hit from the mumps and other injuries in stride as they continue to find ways to win games without Sidney Crosby and other players that have been sidelined. The Penguins might catch a bit of a break on Thursday against a Colorado team that has had plenty of issues early on this year. The Avalanche are a young team mired in a brutal stretch with a lack of elite goaltending the biggest difference from last year when Semyon Varlamov led the way. Evgeni Malkin and company should be able to take advantage at home.

Pick: Pittsburgh

Anaheim Ducks @ Montreal Canadiens

Thursday, 7:30 PM ET

The Ducks were the latest team to fall to Toronto but they are still one of the toughest teams in the West and they will do everything they can to get back on track against Montreal. The Canadiens have put together three straight wins but they continue to struggle with consistency and could get caught by a very good Anaheim team that will be determined to bounce back. Carey Price and Frederik Andersen could both get starts in this game but don’t count on that meaning a low scoring game.

Pick: Anaheim

Edmonton Oilers @ San Jose Sharks

Thursday, 10:30 PM ET

Dallas Eakins finally got the axe as the head coach in Edmonton but the team responded with a 2-1 overtime loss to another terrible team in the Arizona Coyotes and it’s clear the Oilers have much deeper issues than coaching. Visiting the shark tank won’t help their situation as San Jose gets another chance to secure an important two points against an inferior team at home after having four days off to prepare for this game. The Sharks might not offer much value on the money line so don’t hesitate to take them to win this game by two goals.

Pick: San Jose

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