The Los Angeles Kings head to Toronto after an uninspiring performance against the Ottawa Senators. They capsized and had to take a 5-1 loss in Ottawa. Their road trip continues in Toronto on Monday night against the Maple Leafs. The Leafs return home after four games on the road, where they went a perfect 4-0. The most impressive of the four wins came in their most recent game against the Washington Capitals.
In a meeting with the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Leafs looked like the much better team and they rode the momentum to a 4-2 victory over the Caps. After dropping a 5-3 decision to the Sens at home five games ago, Toronto have collected 2 points in each game since. One included a shootout against the Blackhawks to open the road trip. That was a bit of a crazy game which went back and forth towards the end of the 3rd period.
With a high-powered offence, they’ve jumped out to a 5-1-0 start to 2018-19. There are high expectations in Toronto this season and it goes beyond having a good regular season. An early exit in the playoffs will be a failure with the combo of Tavares and Matthews. Willian Nylander continues to dabble in contract talks, who stated that he hasn’t requested a trade.
We’ll see if he sticks with that if this continues on. Nylander is asking for 8-8.5 million, which is elite money in the NHL. He’s a good player who has the potential of developing into a great player, so therein lies the problem. The Leafs don’t want to pay a player who hasn’t proven he is elite yet. In any event, throw Nylander in this offence and it’s going to be almost impossible to stop them. We’ll see if the Kings can handle Tavares and Matthews tonight. Head below for our free Kings vs. Maple Leafs pick.
L.A. Kings vs. Toronto Maple Leafs Pick
The Kings were dealt a blow when starting goaltender Jonathan Quick was put on the IR. He suffered a lower-body injury in practice, so that sent him to the shelf and made Jack Campbell the starting netminder. The 26-year-old doesn’t have much experience at this level, but has done a reasonable job thus far. He is coming off a horrible outing against the Senators, where he was pulled and replaced with Peter Budaj after allowing 4 goals on 11 shots.
It’s a blow after such a nice game against the Canadiens, and now he gets one of the best offence in the NHL on Monday night. When it’s all said and done at the end of the season, they’re likely going to rank at the top statistically. The Leafs have averaged 4.83 goals per game, with at least 4 goals in their last four games for an average of 5.75 goals.
They are likely going to run into issues with their backup goaltending issue. Frederik Andersen is going to be shot come the end of the regular season if they don’t have a reliable backup. There isn’t anything behind Garret Sparks, so the Leafs will be in trouble if Andersen gets injured. Andersen looked sharp against a good Washington offence, as he allowed 2 goals on 27 shots. If the Leafs go with Sparks, this will be a smaller wager on the Maple Leafs.
Along with Quick out, Dustin Brown broke his finger a couple weeks ago and is on the IR as well. Ilya Kovalchuk helps, but he hasn’t done anything to fix an anemic power play. The Kings have gone 0-for-18, as their aging roster hasn’t been able to find the back of the net. Their core is older and overall they are tied for 22nd with the oldest roster in the league.
Against an offence like the Leafs, I don’t see that going so well vs the young legs in Toronto, Patrick Marleau not withstanding. Quick would have been an asset for the Kings here, but the inexperienced Jack Campbell will get the call. The Leafs’ defence is concerning, but I think there’s good enough value on the puck line at +160 to make it worth a play on Monday. This isn’t the same Stanley Cup team we’ve seen in the past.
*Sparks is starting for the Maple Leafs. Play still stands, but lowering bet size without Andersen in net.