The two top teams in the Northeast division will face off Wednesday night at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre and the winner will take sole possession of first place.

Sportsbooks opened with the Bruins as -140 favorites over the Maple Leafs with a total of 5.5. Early NHL betting action has now extended the line to -145 at most NHL Odds shops. Are we losing or gaining value with this line movement? Lets find out.

Boston Bruins (14-7-1) 

Tim ThomasThe Boston Bruins may have started the season with a Stanley Cup hangover but have been clean and sober recently as they have gone 11-0-1 since the beginning of November. Second year man and last year’s number 2 overall pick in the draft, Tyler Seguin, has carried his momentum from last season’s playoff run into the regular season. He leads all of his teammates with 23 points and 12 goals on the young season.

Like last year, the cornerstone of this club is defense, rooted firmly by All-Star Bruins’ captain Zdeno Chara and fellow All-Star goaltender Tim Thomas. The B’s are currently 2nd in the league in goals allowed, surrendering and average of 2.1 per game but unlike last year, their goal scoring has taken a decided turn for the better as they are 2nd in the NHL averaging 3.3 goals per game.

The Bruins have delivered a balanced attack during their winning streak and have even managed to notch a win on those nights when they were clearly struggling to find their chemistry. Such was the case last time they took the ice when they relied on a blue collar plugger like Chris Kelly to light the lamp twice en route to a 4-2 victory over the struggling Winnipeg Jets. Tim Thomas continues his stellar play between the Boston pipes with a 1.86 goals against average and a gaudy .937 save percentage. 

Toronto Maple Leafs (14-8-2) 

The Maple Leafs, winners of three straight, are looking to avenge two early season losses to the Bruins. They were thoroughly dominated in both games, falling 6-2 on October 20th in Boston and then suffering a humiliating 7-0 defeat in front of their home fans on November 5th.

Toronto Maple LeafsThough the Maple Leafs may not be stout defensively, ranked 23rd in the league allowing 3.1/game, they do have the weaponry up front to put the puck in the net. They currently stand as the 3rd most potent offense averaging 3.2 goals per game with former Bruin and 1st round blue chipper Phil Kessel leading all Toronto scorers with 16 goals and 31 points.

However it should be noted that Kessel has had his problems against his former club, notching only 2 goals and 4 assists against the Black and Gold in 14 games. 

Goaltender Jonas Gustavson will most likely get the nod in net for the Leafs as he has been platooning with Ben Scrivens since Toronto’s opening night starter, James Reimer, got injured in the 5th game of the season.

Gustavson has been on a bit of a roll recently, winning his last four starts and getting the starting assignment during their current three game win streak. Yet, Gustavson has struggled mightily against the Bruins this season. He allowed 6 goals in their first meeting and then relieved the overwhelmed Scrivens in the rematch only to yield two goals on six shots.

Analysis: 

Though the Maple Leafs are playing well right now, they are waiting for their starting goaltender James Reimer to get healthy and backstop their team. Reimer is close to returning but for this game, the Leafs will have to cross their fingers and hope that Jonas Gustavson continues his solid play of late and allows them to compete against their Northeast division nemesis.

Let’s try not to overthink this one. I can see no reason why the smart choice wouldn’t be the obvious choice. The Bruins are a more balanced team, have the NHL’s best scoring differential netting 28 more goals than allowed (Toronto is +4 in that category), and play a more physical brand of hockey. The Leafs on the other hand get to play on familiar ice. Place your NHL picks in favor of Boston tonight.

My Pick: Play the Bruins -140.