The news of the weekend was not a comeback effort made by the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Winnipeg Jets. Auston Matthew’s injury stole the headlines, as he pulled up grimacing after Jacob Trouba made contact with his shoulder on a check. There haven’t been any comments made regarding a timeline to return as of Sunday night. Just by looking at what happened, it looked like a separated shoulder, but we’ll see what the final report is on him.
The Maple Leafs did manage to win the game by erasing a 2-0 hole. Kasperi Kapanen capped off the comeback with a goal with around 3 minutes remaining to take a 3-2 lead. This was only a little over a minute after Jake Gardiner found the back of the net to tie it up. The Maple Leafs hope to make it a little easier on themselves against the Flames tonight. We’ll see how they operate without Matthews in the lineup. There is still a bevy of talent on the roster, including John Tavares, so don’t expect the Leafs to immediately take a dive or anything. It would have certainly been nice to have Nylander at this point, though.
Tavares is going to be Tavares, but guys like Kadri, Marner, and Kapanen must step-up in the absence of Matthews. Kapanen has been having a heck of a year thus far, so he has been doing his part, but he can’t let up now. Maple Leafs’ brass have to be secretly hoping he slows down a bit and allow Tavares to rack up the offensive production.
Kapanen is going to want his money as well if he continues to perform at this level. Frederik Andersen is expected to be in net for the Leafs tonight, while Mike Smith will give it a go for the Flames. Smith has bene less than ideal, and his backup David Rittich, has a relatively small sample size as a starter in the NHL. What was supposed to come to an end when they signed Brian Elliott, the Flames are still searching for a replacement for Kiprusoff. Head below for our free Flames vs. Maple Leafs pick.
Calgary Flames vs. Toronto Maple Leafs Pick
Mike Smith has made eight starts for the Flames thus far in 2018-19. More have resulted in shaky outings than quality. At 35 years old, it may just be a case of him losing a step with all of the sharpshooters in the NHL these days. Mind you, the last time Smith had a standout season was in 2010-11, when he posted a 2.21 GAA with the Coyotes. His best year since was a 2.58 GAA the following season. Smith yielded a 2.65 GAA in his first season with the Flames a season ago. He enters Monday with an ugly 3.91 GAA and 0.869 save percentage.
He needs to string together some good starts, but he has a pretty good Toronto offence to fend off this evening. The goal scoring has slowed down a bit for the Leafs after a torrid pace, but don’t be surprised if the catch fire again soon. Against Smith and a below average defence, that could happen tonight. Note that the Flames have allowed 3.55 goals per game this season.
Conversely, the Leafs have scored 3.73 goals per game. The Flames have gotten shredded for 13 goals in the last two games. 9 allowed against the Penguins and then 4 allowed in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Capitals. They won’t have to worry about Matthews, but it doesn’t mean the offence doesn’t have other talented goal scorers to scare Smith with.
The goaltending has been off in Calgary, but they at least have help offensively. Calgary have averaged 3.27 goals per game so far. The Leafs have been playing well defensively recently, but this looks like a nice spot for a letdown after their big win on Saturday. This likely results in another 4-3 game for the Flames, with a lean to the Leafs getting the 4th goal. Consider going with the OVER in Toronto.