A strong month of February continued on Thursday as we went 2 for 3 with our NHL picks and brought back some units in the right direction.
I’ll start with the lone loss of the evening between the Red Wings and Predators where we had Detroit as big +151 road underdogs. I was happy with how the game was playing out as the clubs sat tied at 2-2 entering the final few minutes of the game, but a Dante Fabbro wrister from the point had eyes and found the back of the net with less than a minute to go in regulation and that was all she wrote for that one. That point shot cost us one unit.
That said, I’m not going to dwell on it as we were fortunate in our Penguins moneyline pick over the Islanders. In similar fashion to Fabbro’s winner, Evgeni Malkin unleashed a howitzer from distance that found twine with just 18 seconds to go, tying the game and sending it to extra time The overtime period went scoreless, but Sidney Crosby won it for the Pens with a slick shootout winner to give us our unit right back.
Finally, we won another close one between the Hurricanes and Stars. The game saw more goals than I thought it would, but the ‘Canes took a 3-3 score entering the third and tallied an early marker followed by an empty-better with less than a minute remaining to win that one 5-3, netting us another unit’s profit.
All told, the 2-1 night notched us a one-unit profit as we check in on this Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs pick in a rematch from Toronto!
- Season Record: 13-18
- Units: -5.63
Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs Betting Odds
- Canadiens (+120)
- Maple Leafs (-131)
- Canadiens +1.5 (-225)
- Maple Leafs -1.5 (+195)
- Over 6 (-127)
- Under 6 (+115)
Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs NHL Pick Breakdown
The Canadiens’ offense has predictably regressed following a white-hot start to the season it was clear they weren’t going to average more than four goals per game on the season, a figure they boasted just a few games back.
The Habs have failed to score more than two goals in each of their last four games and are coming off a shutout effort from Mike Smith and the Oilers their last time out on Thursday. On Wednesday, these Leafs held Montreal to just two goals and only one after Josh Anderson snuck a low shot past Frederik Andersen a little over a minute into the game.
The Habs still rank fourth with 3.57 goals per game, however, and like last season, the underlying numbers are fantastic.
At 5v5, the Canadiens rank first in scoring chances for/60, first in high-danger chances for/60 and third in expected goal for/60, as per Natural Stat Trick. Montreal has scored 2.91 goals/6 at 5v5 this season, however, a figure notably above their 2.49 mark. Again, we knew this offense would regress, but it’s certainly a deep and strong group even if newcomers Anderson and Tyler Toffoli boast unsustainable shooting rates.
We’ll see if the Habs can break out of their four-game offensive slump in this one tonight.
Like with the offense, general manager Marc Bergevin made sure to upgrade his blueline in the offseason, adding Joel Edmundson in a deal with the Hurricanes while graduating fine-looking youngster Alexander Romanov from the prospect ranks.
The results to this point have seen solid. The Canadiens sit in a three-way tie for 10th with just 2.64 goals against per game on the season while their penalty kill is more or less league average at 79.7% on the campaign.
It would appear the Canadiens have essentially deserved their overall defensive fate to this point in the season. At 5v5, they rank 17th in scoring chances against/60, but also sit ninth in high-danger chances against/60 and fourth in expected goals against/60. Their 1.69 goals against/60 at 5v5 this season is slightly under their 1.84 mark, so there doesn’t appear to be any concern towards regression from this back end moving forward.
Over their last 10 games, the Canadiens have allowed more than three goals in a game on just one occasion. Over their last nine games, the Canadiens have averaged just 2.44 goals per game, so it’s fairly clear that we’re looking at a strong defensive group that brings plenty of size and grit to the table.
The move to acquire Jake Allen to provide Carey Price with a legitimate backup has paid dividends given Allen’s 2.01 GAA and .933 Sv% on the season, but it will be Price’s net again for this rematch with the Leafs tonight.
Price hasn’t been great so far this season, turning in a 2.84 GAA and .896 Sv% across eight starts, going 4-2-2 in the process thanks to some support from his offense.
In Wednesday’s loss to the Leafs, Price was sharp early but went on to yield three goals in the game’s final 25 minutes, while his .870 Sv% on just 23 shots now gives him an .867 Sv% over his last two outings.
In two starts against the rival Maple Leafs this season, Price has yielded eight goals on 58 shots, good for an .862 Sv% while he’s been fairly solid in his career agaisnt Toronto, posting a 2.68 GAA and .915 Sv% across a heavy 47-game sample size.
Entering this one tonight, the Leafs sport the NHL’s best offense as their 3.71 goals per game has leapfrogged the Habs and Lightning in recent days, and their power play has been on fire.
It’s probably an unsustainable number, but the Leafs are humming along at a 34.9% power play clip at the moment, good for fourth-best in the league. Last season, the Edmonton Oilers’ 29.5% clip paced the league, so expecting mass regression from this unit isn’t the best bet.
It’s a group that was split up to begin the season with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner on the top group while John Tavares and William Nylander have moved down to the 1B tier, but both have been deadly while Tavares has moved back onto the top group given the injury to net-front presence Wayne Simmonds.
At 5v5 this season, the Maple Leafs rank fifth in scoring chances for/60, ninth in high-danger chances for/60 and 10th in expected goals/60 at 5v5 this season. Perhaps their offense will regress some given their 2.83 goals/60 at 5v5 this season is well above their 2.29 expected mark, but from a strict personnel standpoint and the fact they ranked third in the league on offense last season, there’s very little doubt we have one of the best offenses in the league on our hands here.
The Leaf’s much-maligned blueline in recent years got another makeover in the offseason as GM Kyle Dubas brought in T.J. Brodie to skate to Morgan Rielly’s right on the top pair while the rugged Zach Bogosian has turned into a mainstay in the team’s top-six while providing grit and leadership on a team in need of both assets.
So far, the surface results have been excellent as the Leafs sit eighth while surrendering 2.57 goals per game on the season, although their penalty kill has scuffled to a 76.9% mark so far this season, good for 21st in the league.
However, the 5v5 underlying numbers are not so kind. At 5v5, the Maple Leafs rank 20th in scoring chances against/60, 23rd in high-danger chances against/60 and 22nd in expected goals against/60. They’ve allowed 1.83 goals/50 at 5v5 this season, but deserve a 2.32 mark, so we’re probably going to see at least some regression from this new-look blueline moving forward.
Certainly analytics need to be considered, but the eye test says this Maple Leafs blueline is in much better shape than we’ve seen in some time. Brodie and Bogosian have made seamless transitions to their new club, but Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin and Justin Holl are playing very good hockey at the moment. Holl continues to be one of the most overlooked defenders in the league from a defensive standpoint.
A key reason as to why the Leafs are sporting a surface defensive result superior to their advanced numbers is the steady play of netminder Frederik Andersen after a tough start to his season.
Andersen posted an atrocious .839 Sv% while allowing nine goals across his first two games of the season, but has since worked to a .922 Sv% over his last 10 starts. In that time he’s allowed two goals or fewer six times and more than three goals on just one occasion.
For the season, Andersen has posted a 2.59 GAA and .908 Sv% across 12 starts, going 9-2-1 in that time. The 31-year-old endured a down season that saw him earn a 2.85 GAA and .909 Sv% last season, breaking a stretch of four seasons in which he posted a save percentage between .917 and .919.
When he’s on his game Andersen is one of the more reliable netminders in the league, and he’s certainly been under siege in his Maple Leafs tenure. The advanced numbers aren’t great, but he’s playing behind the best blueline he’s seen in his time in Toronto has he looks to keep up the fine work of late in this one tonight.
Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs NHL Pick
The Maple Leafs have earned wins in each of their first two games against the rival Canadiens this season, sneaking by them in overtime on Opening Night before putting forth a fine effort in Wednesday’s 4-1 win after giving up an early goal.
That said, this team has now won eight of their last nine games while their defense is going to regress in one manner or another moving forward.
I like the personnel, but Andersen has bailed the Maple Leafs out of some high-danger chances in his fine work over the last three weeks, but it will be difficult to do so again against a Montreal offense that is clearly generating their fair share of scoring opportunities.
The Leafs’ offense is dynamic and deep, but so is Montreal’s and considering Toronto hasn’t laid an egg since their second game of the season in Ottawa, now is a good time to hop on the regression and grab the road side at solid value.
I’ll take the Habs to get one back from their rivals in this one tonight on the moneyline.