My picks are officially ice cold as I’m enduring the toughest stretch of my season after dropping both picks I released last night.
Both losses were in the late game where I had the Oilers as big road underdogs (+193) in Vegas while I also had the Penguins to win in regulation over the lowly Kings in L.A.
Neither pick was close to hitting.
While the Oilers came out hard and played a very good first period, Marc-Andre Fleury was on his game while the Oilers went into the first intermission trailing 1-0. After that, it was all Vegas and they would score the next two goals and Fleury collected the shutout in a 3-0 Vegas victory.
At about the same time, the Penguins’ offense was largely held in check until getting on the board late, but the Kings had already scored two goals of their own and posted a big upset win over the Penguins by a 2-1 final.
The Oilers pick was risky, as per the odds, but I like how they’ve played on the road, but fatigue certainly set in later in that game, their second in as many nights.
The Penguins should be beating the lowly Kings and their watered-down roster all day long, but didn’t bring it on this night.
Nonetheless, let’s go ahead and move onto tonight’s 10-game schedule and get back on the right track,
Season Record: 103-92-1
Now let’s dive into this free NHL pick featuring the Maple Leafs vs. Panthers from Sunrise.
Maple Leafs vs. Panthers Betting Odds
- Maple Leafs (-107)
- Panthers (-103)
- Maple Leafs -1.5 (+205)
- Panthers +1.5 (-245)
- Over 7 (+118)
- Under 7 (-130)
Maple Leafs vs. Panthers NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s check in with each of these clubs before I get into my final pick!
This team has been a roller coaster ride this season.
They’ve shown flashes of brilliance but also suffered some embarrassing losses of late, the most documented one coming against the Carolina Hurricanes and an emergency backup goaltender – who practises with the Maple Leafs – on Saturday night on home ice.
As a result, they were going to be in tough in Tampa Bay against the surging Lightning on Tuesday, but once again bounced with with a huge effort in a 4-3 win over the NHL’s best team over the last few months.
For whatever reason, this team shows a lot more fight and resilience on the road where their offense has been wonderful this season.
In fact, the 3.57 goals per game the Maple Leafs have scored on the road this season is the best mark in NHL while their 24.7% clip on the power play away from home is the third-best mark in the league.
Long been the Maple Leafs issue is the other end of the ice and that certainly hasn’t changed this season.
The Maple Leafs enter this one ranked 25th with 3.41 goals against per game on the road this season where their penalty kill has struggled to the tune of a 74.7% mark, good for 28th league wide.
Both ends of the Maple Leafs’ special teams showed up in a big way in Tuesday’s win with the power play going 2 for 4 and the penalty kill going a clean 3 for 3 in that one.
That said, their defensive game will be under the microscope tonight as the team suffered yet another big blow to their defense corps on Tuesday as Jake Muzzin suffered a broke hand late in the second period.
Muzzin had really been playing well, both defensively where he was being used as a part of the shutdown pair and offensively where he’s been excellent of late.
Add in the injuries to fellow defenders Morgan Rielly and Cody Ceci and the Maple Leafs are without three of their top four defensemen in terms of usage this season.
Perhaps their strong possession game could be of some aid tonight.
At 5v5 on the road, the Maple Leafs rank fifth with a 51.48% Corsi For%, third with a 51.33% Scoring Chances For% and eighth with a 49.84% High-Danger Chances For%.
While he allowed three goals, Maple Leafs netminder Frederik Andersen played well against the NHL’s best home offense on Tuesday, which is important because he had been struggling mightily since returning from a neck injury.
Prior to Tuesday, Andersen had posted an .873 Sv% and a 1-4-0 record in his previous five starts – numbers that would look a lot worse if he didn’t shut out the Penguins at home last Thursday.
There’s more good news in the fact that Andersen has been better on the road this season where he’s posted a 2.77 GAA and .913 Sv% on the season with a fantastic 15-6-0 record to show for it.
That said, he was shelled for four goals on just 12 shots in his last trip to Sunrise in an eventual 8-4 Maple Leafs loss.
The Panthers have been unable to take advantage of some uneven Maple Leafs play of late as they have lost four of their last seven games and six of their last 10, but they are coming off a strong 2-1 win over the Coyotes in Arizona on Tuesday.
They were outshot 38-26 in that one however and their penalty kill got the night off while their 1 for 2 power play was the difference in that one.
Now, they’ll return to the BB&T Center where they have gone 16-12-2 on the season, but also where they’ve played some high-scoring games this season.
There’s been nothing wrong with their offense at home as the Panthers rank third with 3.67 goals per game on the season and where their power play sits 11th with a strong 23.7% clip.
However, they’ve struggled mightily on the back end at home where they’ve received poor goaltending as well.
The Panthers are tied for 29th with 3.40 goals against per game at home on the season and their penalty kill has fallen down the rankings throughout the year and sits 26th with a 77.3% mark on the year.
The Panthers have lost three in a row at home and have allowed 10 goals over their last two home games between the Oilers and Flyers.
The Panthers sport some similar possession metrics to the Maple Leafs, but relative to others team at home, the numbers aren’t good.
They enter this one ranked 18th with a 50.11% Corsi For% and 21st with a 50.24% Scoring Chances For%, but also plummet to 30th with a 46.65% High-Danger Chances For%.
Clearly, they haven’t made things easy on their goaltenders at home – or on the road – and their .914 Sv% at 5v5 at home checks in at 23rd league wide.
One of, if not the biggest disappointing player in the league this season has been Panthers netminder Sergei Bobrovsky.
After signing a seven-year, $70M deal with the Panthers in free agency, the two-time Vezina winner has posted a 3.24 GAA and .900 Sv% on the season across his 48 starts.
He’s been ever-so-slightly better at home where he owns a 3.19 GAA and .904 Sv% and a 12-8-2 record, but was pulled after allowing three goals on nine shots to the Flyers in his last home start.
He’s coming off a nice performance in Arizona where he turned aside 37 of 38 shots, but also laid an egg in allowing five goals to the Kings in L.A. his previous start.
To be blunt, we simply don’t know what we’ll get from this guy tonight.
In terms of postseason implications, this game here is the most important game on this 10-game NHL schedule tonight.
With a win, the Panthers regain third spot in the Atlantic Division, but a loss puts them four points behind the Maple Leafs and well back of the Wild Card race as well.
The Panthers are likely licking their lips looking at a number of injuries on the team’s blueline while the Maple Leafs have been left with a ton of inexperience defensemen as a result.
That said, I think the injuries to this blueline will simplify their defensive game and to me, that’s a good things for this Maple Leafs club.
A low-risk game is the type of game they want to play and that will be hammered home before this one gets going.
There’s also the fact that the Maple Leafs can score with the best of em’ and coming off that four-goal effort in Tampa Bay, I like their chances of putting up at least that many tonight.
Prior to that output on Tuesday, the Maple Leafs had averaged just 2.50 goals per game over their previous nine, scoring just two goals or fewer in four of those eight games.
Now, after a breakout game, I think their offense clicks in a big way tonight against a vulnerable Panthers defense and goaltender.
I could see why some would like the Panthers given the Leafs’ injuries at the moment, but I think that win on Tuesday was a big confidence booster and I’ll look for both the offense and goaltender Frederik Andersen to continue that momentum tonight.