Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens NHL Pick – May 3, 2021

It’s a massive NHL schedule going on this Monday evening as we have 14 games on the docket to get our NHL week started as the home stretch is here in full force.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at this Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens pick as a pair of North Division rivals get together from Montreal!

  • Season Record: 28-27
  • Units: +0.49

Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens Betting Odds

  • Maple Leafs (-156)
  • Canadiens (+141)
  • Maple Leafs -1.5 (+155)
  • Canadiens +1.5 (-175)
  • Over 5.5 (-128)
  • Under 5.5 (+116)

Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens NHL Pick Breakdown

Maple Leafs

Offense

The Maple Leafs are rolling entering this one having won five in a row, thanks in part to a red-hot offense that’s perhaps been the league’s best in that span.

The Maple Leafs just hung nine goals over the Canucks as part of a two-game set sweep while they have now scored at least four goals in all five of their five-game in streak, averaging 4.40 goals per game during that stretch.

What’s more is that they’ve done so largely without their once-elite power play that’s struggled mightily over the last dozen or more games. They’ve earned just nine power plays over their last five, but have capitalized on just one of those opportunities and have now gone 3 for 23 over their last 10 games, good for a 13% clip. Overall for the season, the Leafs now sit 11th with a 21.6% clip on the man advantage, but much of that damage came in the season’s first half.

However, at 5v5, this offense is about as good as it gets. The Leafs rank fourth in the NHL in terms of goals/60 at 5v5 action, but also fourth in expected goals/60 at 5v5, as per Natural Stat Trick. Additionally, they rank third in the NHL in scoring chances for/60 and first in the league in high-danger chances for/60 at 5v5 play.

Also, the league’s best goal-scorer this season is on a major scoring binge at the moment. Auston Matthews leads the circuit with 38 goals on the season, a cool 11 tallies clear of second-place Connor McDavid. That said, Matthews is also white-hot at the moment, notching four goals over his last three games, but also 14 goals over his last 13 contests. Matthews has scored at least one goal in 14 of his last 17 games.

Obviously, the key tonight for the Habs is keeping No. 34 in check.

Defense

The Maple Leafs much-maligned defense was easily the weak part of the roster for a few years running, but there’s been a major turnaround this season after an offseason overhaul.

The addition of T.J. Brodie on the top pair has been a major boost for a defense that now ranks eighth with 2.61 goals against per game on the season, a quality feat considering their penalty kill has been a sore spot at 26th with a 76.7% mark. Special teams has certainly been an area of weakness in the season’s second half despite the consistent winning.

The Leafs’ 2.05 goals against per 60 minutes at 5v5 ranks seventh in the league, and they also rank 16th in scoring chances against/60, 10th in high-danger chances against/60 and seventh with 2.00 expected goals against/60. It would appear they solid 5v5 defense has been well-deserved according to the metrics.

The problem tonight is a personnel issue. In other words, Justin Holl — a second-pair mainstay playing against the opposition’s best on a nightly basis — will miss this one after being struck in the mouth with a puck in Saturday’s win over the Canucks. Add in the fact that Zach Bogosian continues to miss time with a shoulder injury and the Leafs are missing two of their three right-side blueliners for this one.

That said, this defense has been super stout of late. They’ve allowed exactly one goals against in each of their last four games and just held the Canucks to two goals on only 43 shots across the aforementioned two-game sweep.

Goaltending

Frederik Andersen remains sidelined with a knee injury that’s cost him six weeks at this point, but he may not get his job back whenever he returns given the stellar play of Jack Campbell this season.

Acquired at the trade deadline last season as Andersen’s backup, and he’s thrived since putting on the blue and white. Campbell posted a 2.63 GAA and .915 Sv% in his six appearances with the Maple Leafs late last season, but has found another gear to the tune of a 2.07 GAA and .927 Sv% across 18 appearances, going a cool 15-2-1 in that time. Campbell saw some regression in the middle part of last month, but has now allowed just one goal in each of his last three starts with a .965 Sv% in that time

The American puck-stopper has made three starts against the Canadiens this season, allowing six goals in that time while posting a .934 Sv% and winning two of the three matchups. He turned aside 32 of 33 Montreal shots two starts back at the Bell Centre.

Canadiens

Offense

After a tough stretch through the middle to the end of April, the Canadiens’ offense has found its legs a little bit while continuing to post some of the best underlying metrics the league has to offer.

The offense came late their last time out against the Senators on Saturday, but two third-period goals followed by an OT winner gives them eight goals over their last two games. Previously, the Habs had averaged just 1.75 goals per game over their previous eight contests. It’s no coincidence that once their offense found another gear they have found themselves on a modest two-game winning streak entering this one.

The club sits smack-dab in the middle of the pack at 15th with 2.88 goals per game on the season, and while much of that damage came early on during their red-hot start to the season, the Canadiens also rank fourth in scoring chances for/60, seventh in high-danger chances for/60 and 10th in expected goals for/60 at 5v5 play. Their 2.36 goals/6o at 5v5 is more or less in line with their 2.23 expected mark, so the Canadiens’ 5v5 offense has been about as much as they’ve deserved to this point.

With a power play that sits 16th with a 20.4% clip, we’re probably looking at an offense that’s slightly above league average here this season.

It’s an offense missing some manpower, however. Brendan Gallagher is out long-term with a broken thumb, Jonathan Drouin is away from the team due to personal reasons and Tomas Tatar is questionable for this one with a lower-body injury.

The injuries have led a path for youngster Cole Caufield to make an impact, and he did just that while burying his first career NHL goal as the overtime winner on Saturday. Caufield has put forth some quality underlying metrics in his 13:05 of average ice time so far, but he’s also fired a healthy 12 shots on goal through the first four games of what should be a productive NHL career.

Defense

Like the offense, the defense has been about league average despite some quality underlying metrics.

The Habs will enter this one ranked 16th with 2.84 goals against per game on the season, although their penalty kill has not done its part with a 77.7% mark that puts them 23rd in the league.

Through all that, however, are some encouraging advanced metrics. At 5v5, the Canadiens rank fifth in terms of scoring chances against/60, ninth in high-danger chances against/60 and third in expected goals against/6o. Their 2.07 goals against/60 at 5v5 this season is actually above their 1.92 expected mark, so it would appear the team has at least done its part in preventing chances.

The Canadiens did not have Shea Weber in the lineup for each of their last two games with an upper-body injury and he remains questionable for this one tonight. Jon Merrill — a trade deadline acquisition from the Red Wings — has gotten an opportunity in his stead while rookie Alexander Romanov has moved into the top four while getting minutes alongside Ben Chiarot on the second pair.

The club’s defense has largely been good over its last four as they Habs have allowed just 10 goals in that time, good for 2.50 goals against per game over that stretch.

We’ll see if they can keep up the good work in one of the stiffest tests possible in this one tonight.

Goaltending

Like with the Maple Leafs, the presumed No. 1 goaltender remains out of the lineup for the Canadiens as Carey Price is out until later in the month with a concussion. While rookie Cayden Primeau has seen some reps in his absence, it’s going to be Jake Allen getting the nod in this one

Allen was acquired from the Blues in the offseason as support and reliability behind Price, and that’s what the Canadiens have received from the veteran. Allen will enter this one sporting a 2.58 GAA and .909 Sv%, number that aren’t elite but are far superior to what Montreal backups have provided the club in recent years.

His production has certainly dipped after a hot first six weeks to the season, however, as Allen posted a 2.93 GAA and .893 Sv% across three starts in the month of March before getting 13 starts in April, only to turn in a 2.79 GAA and .900 Sv% in that time.

Allen has seen action against the Maple Leafs three times this season — all in the month of April — and surrendered nine goals in that time while posting an .895 Sv% and dropping two of the three. He surrendered four goals on 29 shots (.862 Sv%) two starts back in a 4-1 loss to the Maple Leafs last Wednesday.

Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens NHL Pick

With the Flames and Canucks losing their way to an early offseason of late, the Habs appear to be a lock for a postseason berth, although they are now in a fight with the Jets for the third seed in the North Division.

On the other side, the Maple Leafs have clinched a postseason berth at this point as they’re playing some of their best hockey at the moment.

That said, the Holl injury concerns me when it comes to the back end. Holl and Bogosian have been as reliable as you can ask on the right side of that blueline, but now it appears youngster Timothy Liljegren will see time next to Jake Muzzin on the second pair in what will be his first NHL game of the season. Youngster Rasmus Sandin has been excellent since getting full-time reps due to the Bogosian ailment, but this blueline is now far more inexperience than it once was.

They’ve been stout lately, but you aren’t going to allow a goal per game forever, and the Habs are certainly riding a high after seeing Caufield bury that OT winner on Saturday.

It’s going to be difficult to keep this Maple Leafs offense at bay, however Toronto’s struggling on both ends of special teams at the moment as well.

Add it up and the value here is on the home side as I’ll take the Habs as notable moneyline underdogs tonight.

The Bet
CANADIENS
+141
Sub Categories:
Brenton Kemp / Author

Brenton is a lifelong sports fan who resides in Ontario, Canada. Brenton is a fan of most all sports but specializes in hockey, baseball, football, basketball, and golf. He’s a fierce researcher with a strong appetite to deliver accurate and relevant facts that in turn have led to past success with picks and DFS advice across the board. Brenton’s biggest goal is to deliver readers with the picks and advice that can build their bankroll. He takes great pride in his success and loves nothing more than to share that success for the benefit of everyone involved.

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