Last night wasn’t a pretty night for my free NHL picks and was one of those nights that is going to happen when you get on such a hot run as I have for the most part over the last six weeks.
I made a trio of NHL picks, all of which landed in the loss column.
I had the Islanders on the road to go into Madison Square Garden and deliver a moneyline win at -125 odds, but the Rangers showed up to play for this one and handily took care of the rival Islanders in a 6-2 win for the home side.
At about the same time, I had the Hurricanes as road underdogs to upset the Capitals whose offense had been cooled off. The good news is the Hurricanes held the Capitals to just two goals, however mustered none of their own in a 2-0 loss.
Finally, I had the Flames as tiny road dogs in Montreal against the ice-cold Habs, and while they too held the opposition to just two goals, also failed to score any of their own in a 2-0 loss.
All told, the three losses cost me 3.27 units.
Still, we’ve been consistent throughout the season as I turn my attention to tonight’s big 11-game NHL schedule!
Season Record: 75-63-1
Now let’s take a look at this free NHL pick featuring the Devils vs. Maple Leafs from Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
Devils vs. Maple Leafs Betting Odds
- Devils (+215)
- Maple Leafs (-260)
- Devils +1.5 (-115)
- Maple Leafs -1.5 (-105)
- Over 6.5 (-120)
- Under 6.5 (+100)
Devils vs. Maple Leafs NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s take a look at each of these clubs before getting into my final pick!
Don’t look now but the Devils are rolling entering this one, not just rattling off back-to-back wins but also rattling off back-to-back wins over the Capitals and Lightning, no less, and hold those high-octane offenses to just one goal each.
The mini win streak followed a three-game losing streak, which followed a three-game win streak. In other words, the Devils have been all over the map, but are still showing a strong compete level despite some adversity.
One such adversity at the moment is the injury bug which has claimed not only No.1 netminder Mackenzie Blackwood, but now top goal-scorer Kyle Palmieri who will miss another game tonight with a lower-body injury.
The loss of Blackwood hurts in goal as well, but Louis Domingue has been great as his replacement of late.
Domingue started both ends of their back-to-back wins over the Capitals and Devils, posting a .967 Sv% in the process. He’s now allowed just three goals in his last 144:58 of action in goal, about two and a half game’s worth.
However, this is also the guy that posted a 7.13 GAA and .812 Sv% while getting clobbered in three straight December outings. It’s quite a mystery of which Domingue to expect, but there’s little doubt he’s on a roll at the moment.
Defensively, the Devils have been gouged for most of the season, checking in at 20th with 3.41 goals against per game on the road this season where their penalty kill hasn’t been much of an issue with a 79.1% mark on the season, good for 14th.
Still, the Devils aren’t bring much in the possession game to the table tonight.
At 5v5 on the road, the Devils rank 21st with a 46.92% Corsi For%, 26th with a 44.62% Scoring Chances For% and 19th with a 45.97% High-Danger Chances For%. The rankings aren’t the worst in the league, but the numbers themselves leave plenty to be desired.
Even in their aforementioned back-to-back wins, the Devils were outshot by a combined 71-42 count, yet outscored the opposition 8-2. That type of success is wildly unsustainable.
The Maple Leafs enter this one riding a three-game losing streak and were particularly embarrassed in Florida on Sunday – a game which resulted in an 8-4 loss.
No one is going to blame Frederik Andersen for their woes considering what he’s done for them since arriving in Toronto, however the Maple Leafs actually heavily outshot the Panthers 47-29 in that one and likely deserved a much better fate as result.
However, that’s how it goes sometimes and the bottom line the Maple Leafs need to tighten up the back end, a banged-up one at that.
The Maple Leafs lost another key defender to a broken foot in that one as Morgan Rielly is out eight weeks after Jake Muzzin was already on the shelf with the same ailment.
A new-look, injury-ravaged blueline will now look to turn things around after the Maple Leafs surrendered 18 goals in their three-game skid.
They’ll enter this one ranked 22nd with 3.09 goals against per game at home this season and their penalty kill has been an issue for most of the season as they sit in tie for 24th with a 78.5% mark on home ice.
The offense, however, has not been an issue.
The Maple Leafs lead the NHL with 4.06 goals per game since December 1st and still managed 11 goals over their three-game losing skid.
They rank eighth with 3.45 goals per game at home this season where their possession numbers are quite strong.
At 5v5 at home, the Maple Leafs rank 10th with a 52.67% Corsi For%, 14th with a 52.97% Scoring Chances For% and 20th with a 50.97% High-Danger Chances For%. Again, the rankings aren’t the best, but the numbers themselves are strong.
Frederik Andersen is struggling, however, and there’s no doubt about that.
Andersen was pulled after allowing four goals on 12 shots against the Panthers, the second time was pulled in a six-day span after allowing three goals on 19 shots against the Oilers.
Andersen owns a 4.72 GAA and .879 Sv% in four January starts at this point, and didn’t exactly post strong numbers in December with a 3.03 GAA and .904 Sv% in 11 starts.
At home this season, the results haven’t been great either with a 3.09 GAA and .903 Sv% in 19 outings.
There’s little doubt that these teams have trended in opposite directions over the last week or so.
That said, there’s also little doubt about who the far superior team is here.
The Maple Leafs remain potent on offense and the Devils have been roughed up for the most part on the defensive side of things this season. Domingue has been good of late, but even after those efforts he still owns a 3.07 GAA and .898 Sv% on the season.
To be honest, I’m not sure the Devils will be able to handle what is a healthy and productive Maple Leafs offense right now.
Of course, the Maple Leafs’ defensive game and goaltending is a concern at the moment, but the Devils and their weak road offense without their top goal-scorer presents a nice opportunity for the Leafs to get their defense in order.
As a result, I am going to take the home side to win this one on the puckline with blowout potential in this one tonight.