Ugly night for the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, as the Montreal Canadiens handled them for a 6-3 loss. The Leafs can score in bunches quickly, or conversely, give up goals in bunches quickly. That’s what happened against the Senators on Saturday night, as the Maple Leafs were pummeled for 5 goals in the 2nd and 3rd period. They held the Sens to a goal in the 1st, but the floodgates opened on them later in the contest. If the Leafs want to be taken seriously as not only a playoff contender, but a Stanley Cup contender, the defence must be better and Frederik Andersen has to play well. It isn’t much of a secret what they have to do.
With a healthy Auston Matthews, scoring is never going to be a problem. They will go through some spurts where they’re feeling cold on offence, but all in all, they are going to rank in the top 5 by the end of the year. If they don’t, it’s because the injury bug caught up to them. Matthews, especially, is too important to go down for an extended amount of time. The sky is the limit for the young 20-year-old.
Perhaps the most surprising start of the year for the Maple Leafs is Mitch Marner. Marner has been cold despite the Leafs hot start. He only has 1 goal and 3 assists thus far, but there’s plenty of time for him to get going. Patrick Marleau has been an excellent addition, but his presence in the locker room and as a leader is really his greatest asset. The Leafs are a young team, and Marleau was a guy who could provide some veteran leadership. Andersen just really has to start playing like he’s a top-tier goaltender. Not the case thus far this season. Small card tonight with only two games. Let’s get right to it with our Kings vs. Maple Leafs pick below.
L.A. Kings vs. Toronto Maple Leafs Pick
If the Leafs could kickstart their defence all would be well in the world for them. However, I am not really sure you can denote them as the favourite to win the Stanley Cup given this trouble spot. Andersen may be 5-2-0 on the season, but it isn’t because of his stellar play in net. He owns a 3.41 GAA and marginal save percentage of 0.892. That is not good enough, not by a long shot. The Leafs cannot expect to put up 5 goals every night, Andersen must steal some games here and there. On average, the Leafs are allowing 3.50 goals per game. Their offence is keeping the train running, with a whopping 4.50 goals scored per game.
The Kings have been scoring at a healthy rate as well, with 3.86 goals scored per game. They’ve scored an average of 4.50 goals in their last four games combined. The Kings and Leafs combined are averaging around 70 shots per game. With a record of 6-0-1, the Kings have been playing phenomenal hockey thus far. The Leafs come in as heavy favourites, though.
The price strikes me as suspicious. I thought we were going to see more along the lines of the Leafs at -120, not what we’re seeing. I see some books have the Maple Leafs at -160+. That attractive plus-money price will reel in the Kings money, but is it smart money? I must say, I couldn’t take the Leafs and drink that much juice against a Kings team whose only loss was a 4-3 overtime loss to the Flames. However, Leaf games will fly OVER the total all year long. I think you’re going to see more totals of 6.5 in their games moving forward. With that said, I like a play on the OVER at 6. It should resemble that Kings game against the Flames.
PICK: OVER 6 (-110)