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Leafs @ Canadiens - 12/1/09

Tonight's games will feature an epic 'Original Six' battle between two of the worst teams in the league. The standings in regulation really aren't pretty:

W% 0.360 0.346
GD/82 -62 -50
W% Rk 28 29
GD/82 Rk 29 27

There aren't a lot of teams that have played this badly so far this season. Only Carolina is obviously worse. However, the ways in which they've been bad are different:

GF/60 2.64 2.23
GA/60 3.40 2.85
GF Rank 19 27
GA Rank 28 19

Toronto has endured excruciatingly bad goaltending and special teams, while Montreal has been incapable of generating any offense. So where are people putting their money? Most sites, including the World Sports Exchange, have the average money line at -135 for Montreal, which corresponds to a winning percentage of 57%. Given that the Leafs are on the road and playing back-to-back road games, the neutral winning percentage is about 50%.

Assuming that the betting markets still consider the Leafs a .500 team, they also consider Montreal a .500 team. Is that realistic? It seems to me that the Canadiens aren't quite that good - Montreal is one of the worst teams in the league at 5-on-5, having been outshot by almost 15% despite trailing no less often than the Leafs. The Leafs, on the other hand, are right at the top of the league in outshooting their opponents but have an unsustainably low shooting percentage. All told, the betting markets are probably a bit too pessimistic about the Leafs chances, but not so much that there's an opportunity to make money by betting on the visitors. (Some may disagree...)