The Toronto Maple Leafs welcome the New Jersey Devils to town on Friday night. The Maple Leafs haven’t been on the ice since a 3-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights. After blanking the Penguins by a score of 5-0, the Leafs didn’t show any signs of having a letdown, as they powered past the Golden Knights on Tuesday. It was another good outing for a defence who have been criticized extensively in the offseason.
Yeah, they signed John Tavares, but how are they going to win games with their anemic defence? At least recently, the Maple Leafs have been winning games because of their defensive effort. Mike Babcock has been challenging his defence to play a better game and they’ve answered him. How long can they keep this going for, though? The Leafs have allowed just 1 goal in their last two games, winning by a combined score of 8-1.
It’s a rather small sample size, though. The Leafs have been playing well defensively for a couple of weeks, but it’s just that, a couple of weeks of play. Frederik Andersen is one of the more underappreciated goaltenders in the NHL and has been playing sharp for the Leafs through the first month of the regular season.
Despite facing 37 shots against the Knights, Andersen stood tall with 36 saves in the 3-1 win. For the Devils, this is sixth game of a long road trip. Things were peachy when they had nearly all of October at home, but they won’t be home until Tuesday. Winnipeg is their last stop on this road trip Sunday. The Devils were solid out of the gate, but we said wait until they have to go on the road. New Jersey have slipped to 6-6-1 with losses in seven of their last nine games. Head below for our free Devils vs. Maple Leafs pick.
N.J. Devils vs. Toronto Maple Leafs Pick
The Devils were blasted by a score of 7-3 against the Ottawa Senators. This is the game immediately after the video of Sens players in the Uber were released. So, the Devils were unable to take advantage of that drama. At this point, the Devils just want to get home and regroup, but if they can get a confidence builder in Toronto that would be nice.
They’ve gone 1-4 on this road trip, including a loss to a very beatable Red Wings squad. The defence has been getting worked, as they’ve allowed an average of 4.6 goals per game in their last five outings. Now they have to play a Maple Leafs team capable of plenty of offence. The Leafs have averaged 3.4 goals per game for 6th in the NHL.
Keith Kinkaid is expected to get the start for the Devils in net. With starter Cory Schneider back, Kinkaid hasn’t seen action as much as he was previously. Kinkaid has seen action in four games since his return and struggled with a 3.74 GAA and a record of 1-2. It’s hard to envision him playing as well getting spot duty than when he was playing as the regular option. His rhythm has seemed to been thrown off with the time off.
As a team, the Devils are allowing 3.31 goals per game and have been slipping with 3.9 allowed per in their last ten games. A hot start defensively has pretty much gone to waste. The Devils have been scoring with 3.23 goals per game. One of the crazier trends in the NHL is that the Leafs have gone ten games in a row with the UNDER cashing.
If you’ve been cashing the OVER, ouch, that is going to leave a dent in the bankroll. However, this can’t go on forever, especially Andersen who has been a thief on the ice. There is going to be some variance that hits them. Their offence is too good and their blueline still has holes that can be exploited, despite this run for the defence. With a projected 5-2 or 5-3 final on Friday night against the Devils, this looks like an OVER night in Toronto.