Last night’s result was basically my season in a nutshell so far.
I had the Canadiens to win in Ottawa in regulation time, and the pick looked good on multiple occasions. The Sens actually had 2-0 and 3-1 leads in that one, but the Canadiens stormed back and took a 4-3 lead midway through the third on a beauty Tyler Toffoli goal.
However, Carey Price let in a soft, game-tying goal minutes later before the most controversial call of the season took place.
With 2 seconds left, Brendan Gallagher tipped home a point shot, a goal that would have turned our pick into a winner. However, on a review, it was determined that Gallagher interfered with Sens netminder Matt Murray. Let’s take a look.
Après révision vidéo, le but est annulé.
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) February 24, 2021
Four points here:
1. Gallagher is forced into Murray by Nikita Zaitsev and is clearly doing everything he can to avoid the contact
2. If Gallagher than can laid on on the ice, get up, find the puck and tip it into the net, why can’t Murray get up and find the puck?
3. The league said Murray didn’t have time to “reset” when in fact, he had 3.3 seconds of time to reset and find the puck
4. Finally, Murray decides to spin himself around for no apparent reason
Man, look at all that time Murray had to get back into position. If Gallagher can accomplish four things in the same time Murray can’t accomplish anything, why are we waving this goal off?
I don’t rant a ton about losses, but calls that like (and we already know the league is wildly inconsistent in these reviews) are happening too often and it makes this a very, very difficult league to handicap.
Anyways, we’ll take the loss at steep -145 odds and move onto this Flames vs. Maple Leafs NHL pick from Toronto.
- Season Record: 18-21
- Units: -3.71
Flames vs. Maple Leafs Betting Odds
- Flames (+131)
- Maple Leafs (-145)
- Flames +1.5 (-180)
- Maple Leafs -1.5 (+160)
- Over 6 (-117)
- Under 6 (+106)
Flames vs. Maple Leafs NHL Pick Breakdown
After scoring just one goal in each of their previous three games, the Flames got off the offensive schneid in Monday’s 3-0 win in Toronto, scoring early to take the lead before adding to it later on.
That said, the team is once again struggling for offensive consistency as they did for much of last season as well.
Overall, they rank 23rd with 2.58 goals per game on the season while their power play is smack-dab in the middle of the league at 15th with a solid 21.6% clip. That said, while their offense has certainly struggled at times, their 5v5 underlying results are quite favorable.
According to Natural Stat Trick, the Flames rank fifth in scoring chances for/60, fourth in high-danger chances for/60 and eighth in expected goals for/60 at 5v5 this season. While their 2.15 goals/60 at 5v5 isn’t drastically below their 2.36 expected mark, Calgary is certainly generating offensive opportunities at a high rate and deserve more offense than they’ve gotten at even strength this season.
One item to keep an eye on when it comes to the Flames offense comes in the form of Sean Monahan. The Flames’ center scored just his third goal of the season on Monday after going 12 straight without a goal. Monahan — a three-time 30-goal man with no less than 22 in any of his seven seasons — has scored on just 7.9% of his shots this season, a clip well under his 14.7% career rate. Perhaps a goal-scoring binge has began with the 26-year-old.
The Flames obviously put forth a nice defensive effort in their shutout of the high-octane Maple Leafs’ offense on Monday, and while it was a major rebound from their 7-1 shellacking at the hands of the Oilers on Saturday, the Calgary back end has been mostly a little below league average this season.
Entering this one, the Flames rank 18th with 2.84 goals against per game this season with a penalty kill that sits 15th at 79.4%. Additionally, their underlying metrics very much agree with their surface numbers.
At 5v5, the Flames rank 17th in scoring chances against/60, 19th in high-danger chances against/60 and 16th in expected goals against/60. Furthermore, their 2.15 goals against/60 is nearly identical to their 2.13 expected mark, so it appears the Flames are certainly deserving of their defensive fate to this point in the season.
Prior to Monday, the Flames had averaged 4.67 goals against over their previous three, allowing five or more twice in that span. They also averaged 4.00 goals against per game over their previous five with at least three goals allowed in four of those games.
Certainly the Flames will look to build on Monday’s result, but it hasn’t been the best of back ends in Calgary this season.
The Flames announced shortly before gametime that No. 1 netminder Jacob Markstrom would miss the contest with an upper-body injury, thrusting David Rittich into action in what was obviously a successful outing for the latter.
Markstrom will also miss tonight’s matchup, so Rittich gets his second consecutive start for the first time this season looking to build on that shutout on Monday.
He’s been used lightly this season as he’s made just four starts and two relief appearances as well. He’s worked to a 2.36 GAA and .909 Sv% on the season, but has also been inconsistent along the way. Rittich has yet to string together two consecutive quality outings as he was part of the beatdown from the Oilers on Saturday when he allowed two goals on just 11 shots before shutting out the Leafs.
That’s more or less what we have seen from Rittich in the past. He worked to a 2.97 GAA and .907 Sv% last season and owns a 2.80 GAA and .908 Sv% for this career. He lost his starting job to Cam Talbot in the second half of last season before watching all 10 postseason games from the bench.
While he was excellent in making some big saves on Monday, it will be interesting to see what the 28-year-old can do for an encore tonight.
While they couldn’t find the back of the net on their 34 shots on Monday, the Maple Leafs were not without their chances and they remain one of the very best offenses in the NHL with a lethal power play.
The Leafs rank third with 3.60 goals per game on the season while their 33.3% clip on the power play sits in a three-way tie for the best mark in the league. That power play went 0 for 7 on Monday, however, a major reason why they dropped that one as favorites.
At 5v5, the numbers remain very good. They rank fourth in scoring chances for/60, seven in high-danger chances for/60 and 10th in expected goals/60. Their 2.84 goals/60 is well above their 2.34 expected mark, so like many team in the league, perhaps we should expect a little regression from this group this season. Their power play has obviously boosted their overall offense, but that’s what you get with the talent level on this team.
Auston Matthews saw his lengthy 15-game point streak snapped on Monday after back-to-back two-goal, four-point efforts, but the Maple Leafs will look to get Matthews some support in the form of increased productivity from the John Tavares/William Nylander second-line duo.
Both Tavares and Nylander have scored just one goal across 10 outings in the month of February, so a bounceback effort from that duo is clearly well overdue.
The most improved aspect of the first-place Leafs has been their overall work on defense after years of below-average results.
The Maple Leafs rank 10th with 2.70 goals against per game and 17th on the penalty kill at 78.8%. They surrendered a pair of power play goals on Monday as special teams were certainly the difference in that one.
That said, the underlying numbers aren’t so kind. The Leafs rank 23rd in scoring chances against/60, 20th in high-danger chances against/60 and 21st in expected goals against/60 at 5v5 this season while their 2.08 goals against/60 sits a little under their 2.24 expected mark.
Not helping matters at the moment is the absence of Jake Muzzin. Muzzin has been a steady presence on the team’s second pairing with Justin Holl and a valued penalty killer. Along with Holl, he’s usually tasked with shutting down the opposition’s best players, a thankless job to be sure. He remains out indefinitely with a broken bone in his face.
Like Markstrom with the Flames, the Maple Leafs announced on Monday that Frederik Andersen would miss that contest with a lower-body injury. With backup Jack Campbell out with the same lower-body ailment at the moment, third-string netminder Michael Hutchinson was thrust into action and will also start this one tonight.
Hutchinson, in his second tour of duty with the Maple Leafs, will make his third start of the season while sporting a 3.05 GAA and .914 Sv% across the first two starts of the season.
Hutchinson appeared in 15 games with the Maple Leafs last season but struggled to a 3.66 GAA and .886 Sv% in that time before being dealt to the Colorado Avalanche. He fared better behind a superior defense in Colorado, allowing just one goal in his lone regular-season start before making four postseason appearances as well, working to a 2.75 GAA and .910 Sv% in that time.
The 30-year-old was played well with the Leafs so far this season, but has also allowed a weak goal in each outing. He’ll look to earn his second win of the season in this one.
Flames vs. Maple Leafs NHL Pick
To me, this one has the makings of a high-scoring affair.
Both netminders are too inconsistent to be relied upon. Rittich and Hutchinson sport nearly identical, weak career NHL numbers and have certainly been vulnerable at times.
With Muzzin out, the Maple Leafs are down an importance piece on the back end and while they played fine on Monday, the Leafs are allowing scoring chances in the bottom third of the league. That’s not a great omen with the shaky Hutchinson between the pipes.
Ditto with Calgary. Pretty much all of their defensive numbers — both on the surface and underneath — are a little below league average and it’s going to be difficult to keep this Maple Leafs high-octane offense at bay in back-to-back outings. The Leafs will have jump in this one and I believe this is the night Tavares and Nylander get going while Auston Matthews doesn’t go back-to-back games without a point these days.
I believe we can see a real high-scoring game in this one and with the safety of a potential push given the 6-goal total, let’s head for the Over in tonight’s rematch.