The 2018/19 National Hockey League campaign is turning out to be one of the most exciting and entertaining in recent times and fans will be expecting big things ahead of this clash. On paper, this looks to be one of the closest matchups of the weekend.
Toronto have continued to sparkle, winning seven of their last 10 games – including three on the spin ahead of this contest. The Maple Leafs have been simply sublime in the absence of Auston Matthews and his return is only going to help Toronto in their bid to climb above the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division.
Meanwhile, the Wild have been consistently solid so far in 2018/19. Minnesota are third in the Central Division behind the well-backed Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche; a playoff berth beckons if the Wild maintain their recent form throughout the entire season.
This has been Minnesota’s game in recent times – the Wild have won eight of the last nine meetings between the two organisations. However, past form in this fixture will mean very little if the Maple Leafs show up on Saturday evening. They are the class act in the National Hockey League…
Toronto Showing All Signs Of Stanley Cup Champions
The Maple Leafs are ticking all the right boxes to claim ice hockey’s premier title this year. At the time of writing, divisional rivals Tampa Bay are the only team to acquire more points than Toronto this season – which is credit to the work of head coach Mike Babcock and his team.
Matthews is going to be fresh in the second half of the year; that could turn out to be the biggest factor of all. Arguably the best player in the NHL when fully fit, he can be Toronto’s main difference maker in the regular season and beyond.
The 11/1 available with 888sport for the Maple Leafs to go on and lift the Stanley Cup is an excellent price. Toronto are heading in the right direction to go all the way this year.
Minnesota Lack Special Stars To Win It All?
The Wild are organised and consistent but they are lacking that real big name player that can make the difference. Unlike Toronto and Tampa Bay, they don’t have an Auston Matthews or Nikita Kucherov to go out and a win a tight game.
Minnesota have lost just nine games in regulation this year but the Wild have fallen twice in overtime – two huge defeats. Getting over the line has been an issue in recent years and it may be a case of close but no cigar for Minnesota again in 2018/19.
Backing against the Wild completely would be foolish though. Minnesota tend to save their best form for the big stage and games don’t get much bigger than this. Watch this space, the underdogs could step up and make a match of it this weekend.
Toronto have the quality to put Minnesota to the sword but the home fans will be quietly confident of a big performance. This has all the makings of an exciting affair and plenty of punters will be siding with the Maple Leafs as they look to extend their winning run to four straight games.
Auston Matthews notched three points on his return from injury and the former number one overall draft pick can make the difference. With Matthews and Tavares, the Maple Leafs are a scary prospect and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Toronto run riot here.
TIP: Toronto to win
CORRECT SCORE: Minnesota Wild 1-4 Toronto Maple Leafs