The Toronto Maple Leafs look to pick up some momentum following a sharp 4-1 win against the San Jose Sharks last night. They took advantage of a disinterested Sharks team to record the victory. San Jose had just 17 shots on net, as Frederik Andersen did what he had to do between the pipes. Andersen let in the 1st goal of the game, but that was all of the offence that the Sharks could muster up.
Credit the Maple Leafs’ defence for waking up and wanting to play last night. We can’t ignore the fact that the Sharks didn’t want to play, though. Don’t use last night as an appropriate barometer for the Leafs’ blue line. They’re going to have some dangerous tests on the horizon.
For a team that weren’t responding to Mike Babcock the previous two games, it was refreshing to see a total team effort by Toronto. They were losers against the Blue Jackets and Bruins before the win Friday night at Scotiabank Arena. With the win, the Leafs move to 6-4-2 on the season.
They are tied with the Bruins at 14 points, but note that the Bruins have played three less games than the Leafs. Boston still have the upper-hand on the Leafs in their little rivalry. Until they can beat the Bruins in the playoffs the regular season is a moot point anyway. We very well could see the Bruins and Leafs going head-to-head in the playoffs again this season.
A meeting between the Maple Leafs and Canadiens would be good for their historic rivalry. However, the Canadiens face long odds of getting into the playoffs. They are trying to find their way with a so-so roster in 2019-20. Maybe if Carey Price gets back into form as an elite goaltender, the Canadiens could ride his back to the playoffs. There hasn’t been any sign of elite Carey Price, though, and the defense hasn’t helped him out, either. They catch the Leafs on a back-to-back, so we’ll see if that helps tonight. Head below for our free Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens pick.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens Pick
This will be the second meeting between the Maple Leafs and Canadiens in the 2019-20 season. The rivals played an early October matchup on the 5th, which resulted in an entertaining affair that was decided in a shootout. Montreal were able to record the bonus point, while the Leafs got a point out of the game. The Habs were down by 2 goals in the 3rd period, but racked up 4 goals to the Leafs’ 2 goals in the final frame to tie the game up at 5. Paul Byron was the only scorer in the shootout to give the Canadiens a win.
The same issues that the Canadiens are having to deal with now were on full display in that one. Nothing has really changed much, as the Canadiens continue to struggle on the blue line. Price is being paid to be one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, so he should be playing better as well. The Canadiens have allowed an average of 3.3 goals per game thus far this year. It gets much worse when they have a matchup against the Maple Leafs.
Pucks typically end up in the back of the Canadiens’ net when they play the Leafs. Dating back a few years, the Toronto offence always seem to come out with fire against the Habs. Going back to 2017, they’ve allowed the Leafs to score 4.5 goals per game in their previous nine meetings. The Canadiens won just two of those games, one being their most recent game a few weeks ago and the series finale last season.
Montreal had their offence working for them in those two outings. Despite the Leafs scoring 5 goals in each game, the Canadiens came back with 6 goals of their own. It’s clear that the Canadiens’ blue line has been allergic to the Leafs’ forwards, so going with a full on offensive attack instead of sitting back is probably for the best.
That plan worked in their most recent meetings, and with Michael Hutchinson likely getting the green light for the Leafs in net, they should find more goals tonight. Hutchinson has struggled mightily with a 4.02 GAA and 0.89 save percentage as the backup to Andersen this season. There has been an average of 9.5 goals scored in their last four meetings. Hutchinson should help the OVER get there in Montreal. This should be another exciting matchup featuring the Leafs and Canadiens in the NHL’s oldest rivalry. The OVER looks like the way to go for one of our free NHL picks on Saturday.