Maple Leafs vs. Senators NHL Pick – January 15, 2021

NHL Picks Feature Image

Our second round of NHL picks saw us go 2-2 on the night.

The Rangers were blanked by the Islanders by a 4-0 count in a fairly listless effort from the blue shirts, getting behind early and failing to hit the scoresheet. We dropped that one at -106 odds.

We also dropped our Wild vs. Kings under 5.5 pick. The score sat 3-2 L.A. midway through the third but the Wild tied it up and won it overtime on Karill Kaprizov’s first NHL goal in his debut. The 4-3 score deal us a loss at -113.

However, we were good from there. The Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers indeed went over the 6-goal total on the back of a Connor McDavid hat trick, notching us a winner at -130.

Finally, our night ended with a plus-money winner as the Vegas Golden Knights took care of the Anaheim Ducks by a 5-2 score, hitting our Vegas -1.5 puckline pick at quality +105 odds.

All told, the 2-2 night saw us drop 0.14 units in what was largely a wash.

Still, we’re in profit territory after two nights of NHL action as we look ahead to this Maple Leafs vs. Senators pick from the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa!

  • Season Record: 3-2
  • Units: +0.91

Maple Leafs vs. Senators Betting Odds

  • Maple Leafs (-198)
  • Senators (+178)
  • Maple Leafs -1.5 (+128)
  • Senators +1.5 (-148)
  • Over 6.5 (-114)
  • Under 6.5 (+103)

Maple Leafs vs. Senators NHL Pick Breakdown

Maple Leafs

Offense

After ranking third in overall offense last season, the Leafs’ high-powered group look in fine form to open up their season on Wednesday.

Toronto managed five goals on an improved Montreal defense and netminder Carey Price in that one in what ended as a 5-4 Maple Leafs overtime win.

William Nylander led the way with two goals and three points while his center John Tavares notched a goal and two helpers, most notably feeding Morgan Rielly on an overtime 2-on-1 for the game winner. Auston Matthews was held to one assist on the night, but also recorded seven shots on goal and 13 shot attempts. He was a factor despite being held goalless on opening night for the first time in his fifth NHL season.

After starting slow, the Maple Leafs’ offense found thanks to its power play. The Habs looked to carry a 3-1 lead into the third, but got into penalty trouble late in the second and the Leafs elite man advantage made them pay, connecting for two  man advantage tallies in about a two-minute span to tie the game heading into the third.

Last season, the Maple Leafs’ power play ranked sixth with a 23.1% clip, and while head coach Sheldon Keefe has spread the talent around between the two units this season, both groups looked dangerous on their four power play opportunities on Wednesday.

At 5v5 a season ago, the Maple Leafs were one of the league’s most dangerous teams as well, ranking third in expected goals for/60, second in scoring chances for/60 and eighth in high-danger chances for/60, as per Natural Stat Trick.

With that elite young core and increased depth this season, I wouldn’t expect any regression from this group.

Defense

The Maple Leafs’ long-standing defensive issues did not improve in the opener as the group looked sloppy and discombobulated for much of the night. That said, they are far from the only team that’s looked that way in the early going following a quick 10-day training camp and without the benefit of exhibition games.

Their defense ranked 26th overall last season, but improved to a respectable 17th after Keefe took over for Mike Babcock behind the bench. That said, this is also a new-look Leafs blueline.

Gone is Cody Ceci, and the team signed top-pair blueliner T.J. Brodie to skate alongside Morgan Rielly while the rugged Zach Bogosian was added to the bottom pair after a bounce back performance as part of the Stanley Cup-winning Tampa Bay Lightning last season. Bogosian struggled in the opener, however.

The Maple Leafs’ end result defensively was probably a little exaggerated considering their advanced metrics. At 5v5, they ranked 18th in expected goals against/60, 17th in scoring chances against/60 and 21st in high-danger chances against/60. Not great numbers to be sure, but ranking 26th was probably a little harsh.

At the end of the day, however, the group will look to clean things up after an uneven season-opening effort on Wednesday.

Goaltending

After displaying remarkable consistency in his NHL career, Frederik Andersen endured a career-worst season in 2019-20.

The big Dane posted a career-low .909 Sv% after four consecutive seasons of posting a figure between .917 and .919. Andersen was inconsistent for much of the season and certainly didn’t have his ‘A’ game on Wednesday.

Two of the four Montreal goals snuck through Andersen rather than going around him. We’ll give him a pass on the Tomas Tatar breakaway goal that trickled through his five-hole, but Josh Anderson’s early third-period tally simply snuck between his chest and blocker-side arm and across the line. That was one that he certainly would want back.

The 2021 season represents a contract year for Andersen. That usually means plenty of motivation to play at a high level, and that’s something he’ll look to do in the first half of a back-to-back set with the Senators tonight.

Senators

Offense

Offense wasn’t the weak part of the Senators’ second-last NHL finish a season ago, but they still were far from potent, ranking 25th in total offense and tying for 23rd with 30.6 shots per game.

According to their advanced metrics, however, they deserved a far better fate. At 5v5, the Sens ranked eighth in expected goals for/60, 11th in scoring chances for/60 and 10th in high-danger chances for/60. Holding them back was not only a 24th-ranked 5v5 shooting rate but also a power play that finished in the league’s basement at just 14.2%. The power play is certainly an area that needs to be improved.

That said, general manager Pierre Dorion at least attempted to address that issue. He brought in winger Evgenii Dadonov in free agency, a player that tied Mike Hoffman for 11 power play goals on a 10th-ranked Florida Panthers power play play last season. He actually recorded one more power play points than Aleksander Barkov, so he’s likely to improve this Sens man advantage.

Otherwise, Dorion injected his young forward group with some experience in Derek Stepan, Austin Watson and Cedric Pacquette, the latter two of whom should make their bottom-six far tougher to play against this season.

Defense

Here’s where things could get ugly for the Senators again this season.

Last year, the Sens ranked 30th in overall defense and while their metrics weren’t quite that bad, it was fairly obvious as the season went on that their group was one of the worst in the league.

SUSPECT BLUELINE
That’s why it’s difficult to understand why Dorion didn’t address any needs on the back end. He did bring in Erik Gudbranson, but the slow-footed, big-bodied veteran is now on his fifth team for a reason. The Sens are actually his fourth team in the last five years. The team also added veteran Braydon Coburn, however at 35 and with slow feet, he’s not going to be a factor for this team.

There’s just very little to offer behind the top-tier Thomas Chabot, and the blueline is likely to be the team’s demise. It’s a group that absolutely does not match up well against a high-powered Maple Leafs offense.

Goaltending

As a result of their weak blueline, the pressure will be on newly-minted No. 1 netminder Matt Murray, acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins during the October draft.

Murray is coming off a career-worst season that included an .899 Sv% in what was his second subpar year over the last three. He did so while playing behind a Penguins defense that is far superior to this Sens group.

However, it was also clear he needed a change of scenery. Tristan Jarry’s emergence put Murray in the 1B seat last season, and the two-time Cup champion is absolutely a bounce back candidate at just 26 years of age. He’s the owner of a career 2.67 GAA and .914 Sv%, but also worked to a .919 mark just two seasons back.

If Murray can stand on his head, the Sens could keep their heads above water for some time, but that’s going to be awfully difficult to accomplish behind this defense corps.

Maple Leafs vs. Senators NHL Pick

Divisional games are rarely blowouts. The Maple Leafs have won three straight over Ottawa, but their last four meetings have been decided by two goals or less. Ottawa actually won the season series over Toronto in the 2018-19 campaign.

That said, almost every single player on this roster hasn’t played meaningful hockey in 10 months. You can train all you want, but the main observation through the first two nights of NHL action is sloppiness and rust, mostly on defenses around the league. There have certainly been some high-scoring games in the early going.

We saw the Maple Leafs new-look defense struggle in Wednesday’s opener, but at the very least they have a game under their belt and a day off to break it all down. This weak Senators blueline hasn’t played in nearly a full calendar year and there’s absolutely going to be rust on the tools.

I like what Dorion accomplished in regards to his forward group, but there’s also little doubt it’s the second-best group in this matchup. The Maple Leafs’ offense is among the league’s very best and their power play is just deadly.

While I don’t expect a blowout between the two long-time rivals, I think this game is won by at least two goals. It will also be won by the road side in the first of many Battle of Ontarios this season.

Add it up and I’ll take the Maple Leafs -1.5 on the puckline at what I view as very valuable odds.

The Bet
MAPLE LEAFS -1.5
+128
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.