Toronto Maple Leafs (21-14-3) at Minnesota Wild (17-14-4)
|Date & Time||Friday January 2, 2015, 8:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Minnesota Wild -146 / Toronto Maple Leafs +132 --- Over/Under: 5.5
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The Maple Leafs look to start off the new year with a victory as they head into Minnesota to face a Wild team that has lost 7 of their last 10 contests.
The Leafs have been as polarizing on the ice as they are off the ice this season as they started out in a bit of a funk but then reeled off an impressive winning streak that provided tons of hype and optimism and now are tapering off a bit going just 5-5 in their last 10 heading into 2015. Toronto has the make up of a playoff team as they have the scoring ability to match up with most teams in the league and especially in the Atlantic but their inconsistency and suspect play at the back end has drawn some criticism and could very well be a point of address at the trade deadline. Toronto has been solid for the most part between the pipes as Jonathan Bernier has taken the starter's job and while James Reimer would love to be the go to guy as well he has settled in nicely into the back spot and comes in and perform well when called upon. It will be the former getting the call here though as he will go up against Darcy Kuemper in what should be an exciting game.
The Wild look to get back in the race in the Central division as they currently sit in sixth place and are just two points out of last in what was supposed to be a jump forward type of year for Minnesota. The Wild have been in the playoff mix for the last couple of seasons but haven't been able to get past the second round and while they retained most of their core from last year and added to it it looks like it is going to be an uphill climb for them as we approach the second half of the season. The one constant we have seen from Minny though is that they always seem to play well on home ice and this is season is no different as they're 9-4-4 at the X and if they can keep that pace going and improve on the road they could very well slide into a wild card spot. This game is shaping up to be one of the better contests of the evening and while both teams are opening up a double header I think this spot is great for Toronto and they're getting solid value despite coming off a sweep in Florida.