A pair of Original Six rivals will square off Sunday evening live from the Windy City as the struggling Chicago Blackhawks will welcome a Toronto Maple Leafs squad that has been playing better of hockey of late.
After enduring a dreadful October schedule featuring many back-to- backs and injuries, the Leafs will find themselves featured on yet another back-to-back scenario on Sunday. While these schedule spots are part of the NHL, the Leafs have really struggled in them this season, mostly due to the fact that they boast one of the league’s worst backup goalies in Michael Hutchinson. It will be interesting to see if the young netminder can shake off the obvious criticism and turn in a solid outing against a Blackhawks team that has struggled to score.
Chicago enters in a back-to-back spot of their own, having played last night in Pittsburgh. The Hawks turned in a stellar performance, before succumbing in a shootout. Chicago has struggled for the majority of the season with regard to their Corsi For percentage and their overall expected goals, and despite some high-end talent, their lack of depth has been an issue of late.
With two free-flowing and highly skilled squads, it should make Sunday night’s game an intriguing one as you give your TV remote a workout flipping back and forth between NFL and NBA action. For all your NHL betting needs on this Leafs/Hawks showdown, read on beneath the posted odds for a tactical analysis and betting prediction.
Maple Leafs vs. Blackhawks Betting Odds:
Toronto Maple Leafs (-110)
@ Chicago Blackhawks (+100)
Over 6.5 (-109)
Under 6.5 (-101)
Maple Leafs vs. Blackhawks Pick:
There are a lot of solid betting angles in this Sunday evening matchup between the historic rivals. The Leafs have yet to put together a solid back-to-back performance all season long, and they’ll be without arguably their most dynamic forward in youngster Mitch Marner.
Marner was injured last night after getting tangled awkwardly off of a face-off. He has not travelled with the Leafs to Chicago and his absence will definitely be felt. Marner remains a big-time creator of the Leafs’ offense at 5v5 and essentially operates their entire top power play from the left half-wall. Toronto hasn’t played without him in three seasons, and it remains to be seen how they’ll handle his absence.
Chicago meanwhile can likely come close to matching Toronto’s firepower up front with two elite scoring lines, and a bottom-six comprised of veteran forwards that can put the back in the net. Where the Hawks have really struggled this season is in head-manning the puck, and going from defense to offense in a timely manner. Their transition game has been weak to say the least, though a passive Leafs’ forecheck might be the recipe for improvement.
Even though the Leafs haven’t been as high-octane as usual in 2019, and they’re without Marner – they remain a talented group that can score at will. That could be especially true tonight as the Leafs will likely struggle to keep the puck out of their net with Hutchinson between the pipes. I’d anticipate both teams generating lots of chances with defensive play likely being a tad shoddy with both squads having played last night. While I’d lean slightly to the Blackhawks on the moneyline, the better value for Sunday evening’s clash is firmly on the Over 6.5. Enjoy this Original Six showdown, folks!