2 Players Make Teams' Prospects Better
One player has arrived; another has returned; and two teams should improve their lot in NHL betting because of them. The World Cup of Hockey performances of Auston Matthews and Carey Price should set some fans' minds at ease north of the border.
The New Guy
Matthews enters the NHL as the highly touted No. 1 overall pick in the draft. In the World Cup of Hockey, playing before what will be his home fans in Toronto, the youngest of the under-age-24 Team North America has played above his own age of 18. He started work on the fourth line of the team, but worked his way up by scoring goals in both pre-tournament and tournament games. He's shown his youth to be offset by a combination of speed, awareness of defense and a 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame that deserves respect.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are still in a rebuilding mode, and whether Matthews makes a huge instant impression remains dependent on how the chemistry of the team develops. But because of him the Leafs should be worth a few more wins this year and many more in years to come.
The Veteran Returns
Montreal Canadiens fans were not sure how the 29-year-old Price would return from the knee injury that limited him to a 12-game season last year. Team Canada coach Mike Babcock was sure. Babcock believed in Price enough to promote him ahead of Braden Holtby and Corey Crawford right away. And Price delivered, knocking the rust off and showing progress in pre-tournament and tournament play. After a shaky start in pre-tournament games, he posted a 27-save shutout against Team Czech Republic in Canada's opener, and stumped a befuddled Team USA on Tuesday.
He's made tough saves appear effortless and spectacular saves look routine, indication that he is back to the 1.96 goals against average he registered in 66 games the year before last.
Montreal was a .500 team last year and should be better with Price back in the fold. He may be just the edge the Habs need to leapfrog Atlantic Division rivals like Ottawa, Boston and Detroit into the playoffs.
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