It was an 0-1 night last night on a light NHL schedule, but in heart-breaking fashion.
I had the Blackhawks on the puck line +1.5 at -128 odds, and with the clock winding down and the score tied 2-2, the puck had a very strong chance to hit.
That’s about when Matthew Tkachuk caught a break by banking a pass off a defender’s skate up and over Marc-Andre Fleury with less than six minutes left in regulation. The Flames would then tack on a pair of empty-net goals to seal a 5-2 win, a score not indicative of the game itself to be sure.
Nonetheless, we’ll take our lump and move onto a Maple Leafs vs. Kings NHL Pick from Los Angeles!
Maple Leafs vs. Kings Betting Odds
*Odds courtesy of BetOnline
|Maple Leafs||-167||-1.5 (+150)||Over 5.5 (+108)|
|Kings||+151||+1.5 (-170)||Under 5.5 (-119)|
Offense and Defense
Despite beginning the season 13-6-1 and winning 11 of their last 13 games, the Maple Leafs’ offense isn’t yet in full gear, but someone might take a licking here, and soon.
The Leafs surprisingly enter this one ranked 26th with just 2.55 goals per game on the season, but the underlying data suggest something far better.
In fact, the Leafs lead the NHL in terms of both high-danger chances for/60 and expected goals for/60 at 5v5 on the season, yet their 1.95 goals/60 at 5v5 sits nearly a full goal below their 2.80 expected mark. A 30th-ranked high-danger shooting rate and 31st-ranked 5.98% overall shooting rate — both at 5v5 — are to blame, but the team is certainly going to see positive regression in their even-strength offense moving forward.
The defense is a little bit of the reverse, albeit not to the same extent. The Leafs actually sit third in overall defense with just 2.25 goals against per game on the season, but they also rank 25th in high-danger chances against/60 at 5v5. At the same time, they’re 12th in expected goals against/60 at 5v5 and their 2.07 goals against/60 at 5v5 is not too far below their 2.20 expected mark. Not sure there’s much even-strength regression coming for this defense.
They’ve allowed more than two goals in just one of their last seven games and just four goals over their last four games, so this defense has been on point for much of the season, but especially of late.
Offensively, the Kings have left something to be desired which was more or less expected despite heightened overall expectations for the team.
The Kings enter this one tied for 23rd with 2.56 goals per game on the season and the underlying metrics pretty much agree with that work. While they sit eighth in high-danger chances for/60, they slide to 18th in expected goals for/60 at 5v5 with their 2.22 goals/60 at 5v5 on the season sitting just slightly under their 2.31 expected mark.
The Kings do have the distinction of hanging five goals on the Maple Leafs in a Nov. 8 meeting in Toronto, tied for the second-most goals the Leafs have allowed this season. The offense has dried up since, however, as they’ve averaged just two goals per game over their last six following that impressive showing on the road.
The defense is a little worrisome at the moment. I mean, they do sit in a share of sixth with 2.56 goals against per game on the season, but the underlying metrics point towards regression moving forward.
The Kings also sit 20th in both high-danger chances against/60 and expected goals against/60 at 5v5 while their 1.80 goals against/60 at 5v5 is well below their 2.41 expected mark. In other words, there’s a strong likelihood this Kings defense sees some inferior results moving forward, although they’ve allowed more than three goals in a game just once in their last 10.
In his return to L.A. for his first game as a Maple Leaf against his former team, Jack Campbell will get the nod in this one tonight and he’s arguably been the best goaltender in the NHL this season.
Campbell will enter this one sporting a 1.66 GAA and .944 Sv% on the season to lead qualified goaltenders in both departments, but he also leads all goaltenders with 13.81 goals saved above average (GSAA), as per Hockey Reference.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) November 24, 2021
He’s been just ridiculous of late, allowing just four goals over his last five starts while posting two shutouts and an insane .973 Sv% in that time, so he presents a stiff challenge for his former club this evening.
It appears Campbell’s former mentor and countryman Jonathan Quick should get the nod for the home side in this one tonight as he looks to build on a strong season himself.
Quick’s numbers had regressed for a few seasons now, but he appears back in form with a 1.88 GAA and .939 Sv% on the season while his 8.01 GSAA puts them eighth league wide. He too has been sensational in his last five, posting one shutout and a .964 Sv% in that time.
It would appear we have a dandy of a goaltending matchup on tap this evening.
It’s been cooled off in going 0 for 7 over their last two games, but the Maple Leafs have seemingly found their form on the power play once again.
That man-advantage cratered down the stretch and into the playoffs last season, and started out similarly this time around. However, they’ll enter this one ranked seventh with a 23.2% clip on the power play and went 8 for 19 (42.1%) over an eight-game stretch prior to their last two, so we’ll see if they get back on track tonight.
As for the penalty kill, it’s been a major improvement from not only a season ago but any Leafs season in recent memory.
After finishing tied for 23rd and under 79% a season ago, the Maple Leafs sit second with an 88.7% mark on the PK at the moment and have been dialed in of late. They haven’t allowed a power-play goal over their last eight games, going a clean 16 for 16 in that time.
The Kings’ power play has been a weapon at times in recent seasons but hasn’t been great so far this season.
The Kings sit 24th with a 15.9% mark on the PP so far and have failed to score a power-play goal over their last four games, going 0 for 10 in that time. They are now just 1 for 19 (5.3%) over their last seven.
The penalty kill hasn’t been much better. The club checks in at 24th on the penalty kill as well, working to a 77.8% mark on the campaign. That being said, they haven’t allowed a power-platy goal over their last six games, going a perfect 9 for 9 in that time.
Maple Leafs are 6-1 in their last seven overall
Maple Leafs are 4-1 in their last five vs. the Western Conference
Under is 4-0 in the Maple Leafs’ last four overall
Under is 8-2 in the Maple Leafs’ last 10 road games
Kings are 0-4 in their last four overall
Kings are 2-9 in their last 11 games as a home underdog
Under is 5-1 in the Kings’ last six overall
Under is 6-2 in the Kings’ last eight as a home underdog
Head to Head
Kings are 5-1 in the last five meetings in Los Angeles
Home Team is 10-3 in the last 13 meetings
Favorite is 6-2 in the last eight meetings
Under is 11-5-1 in the last 17 meetings
Under is 7-2 in the last nine meetings in Los Angeles
Maple Leafs vs. Kings NHL Pick
The way the numbers reference above are trending, it’s awfully hard not to back the Maple Leafs to stay hot on the heels of a textbook road game as part of a 3-0 win over the Islanders on Sunday before heading west.
The Leafs are the far superior defense, not to mention both the power play and penalty kill. There is going to be an offensive explosion for this club at any point now, and I always want to keep in mind this is a Kings team without their N0. 1 defenseman in Drew Doughty as well as another top-four blueliner in Sean Walker.
Sure, that was the case in Toronto a couple weeks back as well, but the Leafs are playing far better hockey these days and the Kings have fallen into a rut after a lengthy winning stretch of their own.
I have enough evidence where I feel comfortable grabbing the Maple Leafs on the 3-way moneyline (win in regulation) at -110 odds.