NHL weekend preview: Maple Leafs to best undermanned Penguins

Kevin Sousa / National Hockey League / Getty

We're coming off a solid night on the ice, posting a 2-1 record with our best bets.

The Calgary Flames blanked the Detroit Red Wings, while the San Jose Sharks moved to 3-0-0 with a win over the Ottawa Senators.

The Colorado Avalanche kept us from a perfect night, as we were on the wrong end of a great performance by Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.

Moving along, we have a busy weekend of action ahead. Let's take a look at a few games to target over the next couple of days.

Bruins (-210) @ Sabres (+170)
Oct. 22, 7 p.m. ET

The Sabres are one of the feel-good stories in the NHL through the first few contests. They're undefeated over three games, and it's well deserved as they've controlled a league-leading 64% of the expected goals at five-on-five.

However, Buffalo isn't going to continue controlling the run of play to that extent. Even if it sustains strong chance numbers, the team lacks the scorers to finish on a remotely consistent basis. The Sabres' goaltending duo of Craig Anderson and Dustin Tokarski is also among the worst in the NHL.

Suffice to say, the good times will end sooner than later, and the first wake-up call could come tonight against Boston.

The Bruins are among the league's top five-on-five teams every year, and there's not much reason to expect anything different this season. They played pretty well in Philadelphia the other night - high-danger chances were 16-4 Boston - but fell short anyway.

Boston is no doubt looking to get back on track in a hurry, and I think it's going to overwhelm Buffalo.

It may not be a pretty game to watch, but I expect the Bruins to take care of business inside regulation.

Bet: Bruins in regulation (-130)

Maple Leafs (-120) @ Penguins (+100)
Oct. 23, 7 p.m.

The Penguins are as accustomed to playing without key players as any team in the league. They consistently do a good job at it, too.

But their problems are destined to catch up with them against the Maple Leafs on Saturday night.

Sidney Crosby may make his season debut in the contest, but Pittsburgh will still be without Evgeni Malkin, and now Jeff Carter is in COVID-19 protocol. Oh, and Bryan Rust recently went down with an injury, as well. The Penguins roster is paper-thin right now, especially at center.

That feels problematic when going up against the likes of Auston Matthews and John Tavares. Toronto seems likely to get the better of the chances, and it certainly has more healthy firepower to convert those opportunities.

The Leafs are also resting Jack Campbell on Friday, ensuring their starter is healthy and ready to go against Pittsburgh.

Bet: Maple Leafs (-130 or better)

Canucks (-110) @ Kraken (-110)
Oct. 23, 10 p.m.

The Kraken haven't exactly received a warm welcome to the NHL in the early going of their inaugural season.

They opened the year with five consecutive road games, winning only one of those contests. Seattle's underlying numbers aren't great either, as it ranks 27th in expected goals for percentage at five-on-five.

Still, the Kraken seem like a team worth backing Saturday night. The fans will undoubtedly provide a huge lift as the club plays at home for the first time.

And the competition isn't exactly stiff. Despite all of Seattle's injuries and COVID-related issues, Vancouver is one of the few teams it's out-performed in terms of xG.

Things have started pretty rough for the Kraken, but they're starting to get healthy and are putting the pieces together. I still believe this team can contend for a playoff spot in a weak Pacific Division. This game is a good opportunity to right the ship.

Bet: Kraken (-130 or better)

Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.

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NHL weekend preview: Maple Leafs to best undermanned Penguins
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