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Handicapping Leafs-Bruins on center stage and Eichel's return

Mark Blinch / National Hockey League / Getty

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Headlined by a couple of marquee matchups in New York and Toronto, we have a fun slate of games to begin the week.

Let's dive into the best ways to attack it.

Bruins (+110) @ Maple Leafs (-130)

Things have gone a little south on the Bruins of late. They've won just three of their past 10 games while allowing more than 3.5 goals per contest.

I don't think things are as bad as they seem on the surface. Boston has lost five overtime games in that span, falling short against the Lightning, Kings, and Canucks, among others.

Had things gone differently in contests that amounted to coin flips, we could be talking about how the Bruins beat the Stars, Oilers, and some combination of the aforementioned playoff-bound clubs over the past 10 games. The perspective would be a whole lot different.

This feels like the perfect spot to buy low on a veteran-laden Bruins team against the Maple Leafs, who are likely being overvalued right now.

Toronto deserves credit for its recent success, but a lot of it came against bad or injury-plagued squads. It's also worth noting the process isn't sustainable.

The Leafs have scored on just under 15% of their shots over the last 10 games. For perspective, only two teams are shooting over 12% this season.

As much high-end talent as Toronto has, it won't continue scoring at anywhere close to this rate. The well will run a little dry at some point, and Jeremy Swayman, who owns a .919 save percentage this season, can bring on that regression.

The Maple Leafs closed as -110 favorites the last time they hosted the Bruins. Toronto won, but it was a hotly contested affair.

I think we're seeing a bit of an over-adjustment in this spot. There's value in backing Boston to answer the bell in a marquee divisional clash.

Bet: Bruins (+110)

Golden Knights (-195) @ Blue Jackets (+165)

The Golden Knights haven't played their best hockey lately, but I love their chances of a ceiling game in this spot.

First and foremost, star forward Jack Eichel is expected to return to the lineup in this meeting. He'll provide an immense boost to the team's offense and play-driving ability, which is much needed after recently losing Mark Stone to injury.

The matchup is also as good as it gets for the Golden Knights. The Blue Jackets rank 31st in goals against per game this season and will turn to Daniil Tarasov between the pipes with Elvis Merzlikins sidelined.

Tarasov owns a .888 save percentage this season and has won only four of 14 starts. And he's mostly played a soft schedule, facing off against four teams holding onto playoff spots.

Put another way, Tarasov has struggled to provide NHL-level goaltending despite largely going against lower-tier competition.

The Golden Knights, now equipped with their best player, certainly don't classify as such.

I expect Vegas' offense to make a lot of noise in this game and provide real support for Adin Hill, who generally doesn't need much.

Hill has struggled a little lately but still owns a .923 save percentage in 2023-24. His recent dip in form not so coincidentally aligns with a difficult string of games against the Bruins, Maple Leafs (twice), Hurricanes, and red-hot Predators.

The Blue Jackets are nowhere near the class of any of those teams.

Look for the Golden Knights to flex their muscles and take care of business within 60 minutes.

Bet: Golden Knights in regulation (-130)

Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. You can follow him on X at @ToddCordell.

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