With all four divisions starting to take shape, NHL fans around the world will be looking forward to what should be an exciting weekend of top-class ice hockey.
The 2018/19 campaign is well underway and the Toronto Maple Leafs, 5/1 favourites for the Stanley Cup with 888sport before the start of the season, have lived up to the hype.
John Tavares has helped to lift the burden on Auston Matthews and the former New York Islanders star has settled quickly to life in Toronto – he is second on the team with 22 points in 18 games.
Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks have been hit and miss so far this year. With just three wins in their previous 10 NHL games, the Pacific Division outfit have failed to inspire confidence after a bright start.
A win here, however, would give Anaheim a real boost ahead of three more home matches and the Ducks could climb the division standings over the next week or so.
Without further ado, let’s get down to the two teams. This one could turn out to be one of the games of the weekend.
Maple Leafs Are In That Elite Tier
Mike Babcock’s men have been simply sublime so far this year, losing just six of their 12 regular season games. With a 67% win rate, the Maple Leafs will take some stopping…
The addition of Tavares means one thing: Toronto are going for the Stanley Cup. With Matthews side-lined until the end of November, the Maple Leafs have had to rely on the former Islander and he has stepped up to the plate.
Toronto are in the middle of a week-long, four game road run and Babcock’s side may begin to suffer from fatigue in the coming days. Travelling to Anaheim is never easy but the Maple Leafs have the talent to claim another vital road win.
Most bookmakers are offering 6/4 for Toronto go on and win the Atlantic Division; no easy feat but that represents solid value. At the time of writing, the Tampa Bay Lightning are just one point clear of Toronto at the top of the standings.
One of Toronto’s greatest traits is adversity. Throw the Maple Leafs into any situation and they will find a way to win – which is the hallmark of champions in itself. Watch this space, Babcock’s side are gearing up for a hard push at hockey’s ultimate prize.
Home Form Key For Rebuilding Ducks
Anaheim are going through a transition period and the Ducks need to take full advantage of their home games in order to stay relevant in the Pacific Division. Without a doubt, this is one of the toughest divisions in the National Hockey League…
With just five wins from 11 home games so far in 2018, the Ducks have struggled to inspire confidence in front of their own fans. A sub .500 record at Honda Center isn’t good enough, Anaheim need to focus on performances here.
Now out at 8/1 to win the Pacific, the Ducks will take some confidence from their recent record against the Maple Leafs. Anaheim have won two of their last four meetings and the home faithful will be praying for another huge win this weekend.
With just two road games remaining on their current trip, the Maple Leafs may choose to prioritise this clash. Victory here would ensure that Toronto stay within touching distance of Tampa Bay at the top of the division – even if they lose their fourth and final road game in a row.
For Anaheim, the performance is arguably more important than the result. A good show against one of the NHL’s strongest teams should give the hosts a lift – it will be a slow and steady process for the Ducks before they get back to the summit.
TIP: Toronto Maple Leafs to win
CORRECT SCORE: Anaheim Ducks 2-4 Toronto Maple Leafs