After seeming like the Toronto Maple Leafs were going to run away with the all-Canadian North division this season, a quick reversal of fortunes has allowed many competitors to catch up to their once torrid pace.
A bizarre 1-6-0 run over their past seven contests has seen the Leafs come back down to reality. Though they were likely overachieving earlier in the season, the past two weeks have been a stark reality of how intense regression can hit in the sport of hockey. Toronto hasn’t necessarily played bad, though tough shooting luck and woeful goaltending from Freddie Andersen have doomed the Leafs of late.
For Calgary, they’re a group definitely on the upswing, led by new defensive-minded head coach Daryl Sutter. The no-nonsense bench boss has the Flames playing a tougher brand of style, and have been solid defensive – especially when holding a lead. Though the Flames were outplayed soundly by Toronto last night, they escaped with a narrow victory, mostly with rigid third period defense, and timely goaltending from Jacob Markstrom. In a dogfight to make the post-season, the Flames know that every point secured is crucial right now.
As goalies have been a big focus in Toronto, expect the Leafs to turn to Jack Campbell tonight as the American netminder returns from injury. Campbell has been elite in limited action this season. Opposing him will be Calgary’s David Rittich, who is in the midst of yet another inconsistent campaign.
With the Leafs mired in a brutal slump, can their talented offense bust out in a big way vs. the Flames? Or will their frustration continue to mount as uncertain goaltending plagues them once again? One thing is for certain, Saturday night in Toronto should be a fascinating watch. Continue reading on beneath the posted odds for further game details and a betting prediction for Calgary vs. Toronto.
Calgary Flames vs. Toronto Maple Leafs Betting Odds:
Calgary Flames (+140)
@ Toronto Maple Leafs (-160)
Over 6 (-115)
Under 6 (-105)
*Betting odds provided by BetOnline.ag
Calgary Flames vs. Toronto Maple Leafs Pick:
Despite the fact that Calgary’s record has been stellar over the past two weeks, and Toronto’s has not – both squads have actually maintained some very solid expected goal metrics at even strength. Both the Flames and Leafs sit top-5 in the league within those key categories, a telltale sign that the Leafs’ fortunes are likely about to change.
Toronto remains the most talented side in hockey – littered with skill and speed throughout their top-6. At home, with the matchup advantage, expect coach Sheldon Keefe to continue putting his players in places to succeed. The Flames bottom-six forward options and bottom-pairing defenders are among the weakest in the division, and look for Keefe to try and get his key stars in Auston Matthews, John Tavares, and Mitch Marner firing by getting them out against Calgary’s depth options.
Tonight also marks a bit of a new era or glorious opportunity for one Jack Campbell. Returning from injury, Campbell has a huge chance to seize Toronto’s net for the foreseeable future. Frederik Andersen is the main culprit for the Leafs’ tumble in the standings lately, and getting just average goaltending would vault the Leafs to where they feel they should be.
Toronto soundly outplayed Calgary for long stretches last night, controlling even strength scoring chances by a 29-9 margin! That’s quite the lopsided affair, and even with Andersen’s woeful showing, the game was still winnable had it not been for some impressive saves from Calgary’s Jacob Markstrom.
The Flames have played a tough schedule with travel of late, and in a back-to-back scenario against a desperate Leafs squad, playing a backup goalie in David Rittich – it’s hard to see Calgary escaping with another two points. This Toronto slump has extended for far too long given the quality of their stats and the quality of their lineup – and as a result, expect Toronto to respond in a big way in front of popular teammate Jack Campbell. -160 isn’t too steep of a price to back the Leafs on Saturday night.