I had my mini hot streak from last week snapped on Friday by losing my only free NHL pick on the night between the Flyers and Penguins.
After the Flyers opened the scoring, it looked like the Penguins had take over the game and could run away with it with three straight goals before entering the third with a 3-2 lead.
The Flyers scored the only goal of the third period and with the game needing overtime by Penguins in regulation pick at -115 was toast. The Penguins managed to win the game on a Sidney Crosby OT winner.
It’s a fresh week, so let’s get things started on the right note on tonight’s three-game NHL schedule!
Season Record: 86-74-1
Now let’s take a look at this free NHL pick featuring the Panthers vs. Maple Leafs from Scotiabank Arena in Toronto!
Panthers vs. Maple Leafs Betting Odds
- Panthers (+165)
- Maple Leafs (-190)
- Panthers +1.5 (-150)
- Maple Leafs -1.5 (+130)
- Over 6.5 (-130)
- Under 6.5 (+110)
Panthers vs. Maple Leafs NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s take a look at each of these clubs before getting into my final pick!
The Panthers won six games in a row to overtake the Maple Leafs for third spot in the Atlantic Division – a race that is just two points apart with the Panthers holding two games in hand, however.
That streak was snapped in Montreal on Saturday afternoon, however, as the high-octane Panthers offense was shut out by a 4-0 count while they went 0 for 6 on the power play to boot.
That loss in Montreal proved to be extra costly as well as star center Aleksander Barkov left that contest early with a lower-body injury, believed to be a knee, that will also keep him out of the lineup tonight in Toronto.
It’s a big blow for a Panthers offense that’s been dynamite for the majority of the season.
Florida will enter this one ranked seventh in the league with 3.21 goals per game on the road this season where their power play also sits seventh with a 21.6% clip.
After being shut out on Saturday, they’ll look to get back on the right track without the services of Barkov who has tallied 16 goals and 54 points in 50 games on the season.
It’s a good thing that the Panthers’ offense has been so electric this season because their defense – and more specifically their goaltending – has been atrocious.
The Panthers enter this one ranked 25th with 3.42 goals against per game on the road this season where their penalty kill sits 22nd with a 77% mark.
Despite winning two of their last three, the Panthers have allowed 3.67 goals per game with a 60% penalty kill in that span.
After signing two-time Vezina-winning goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to a lucrative seven-year contract this summer, it seemed the Panthers had finally solved their goaltending issues.
Turns out that situations was set to get a lot worse.
Bobrovsky enters this one sporting a 3.26 GAA and .897 Sv% on the season, but also a ghastly 3.64 GAA and .877 Sv% on the road across 19 games.
He’s been slightly better of late, posting a 2.93 GAA and .918 Sv% in December and a 2.95 GAA and .904 Sv% in January, but allowed four goals in Montreal on Saturday on 35 shots (.881 Sv%) to get his February started on a rough note.
Tonight marks his first appearance against the Maple Leafs this season.
The Maple Leafs were able to take advantage of the Panthers’ loss earlier in the day on Saturday with a 2-1 overtime win over the Senators in the evening, a win that marked their third in a row coming out of the much-needed All-Star break.
Prior to the break, the Maple Leafs went 1-3-2 over a six-game stretch that saw them fall out of the postseason race all together.
Despite out-shooting the Sens by a 36-25 count, the Maple Leafs were held to just two goals on the evening and despite sporing the NHL’s best offense for some time, they have scored just five goals over their last three games on home ice.
If you’ve read these pieces often this season, you’d know that I have reference many of times how this has been a tale of two seasons for the Leafs.
The first season was under Mike Babcock where they struggled in mostly every aspect of the game and it cost him his job.
Under Keefe, the Maple Leafs lead the NHL with 3.97 goals per game – in a span of 29 games – and actually sit comfortably in that top spot and well ahead of second-place Colorado who owns a 3.66 mark.
Same goes for the power play as the Maple Leafs’ 32.4% mark on the man advantage in that time is also tops in the league and well ahead of second-place Edmonton and their 27.3% clip.
That power play was responsible for both of their tallies on Saturday and has posted a 35.3% clip over their last six games but also a 46.2% mark over their last four at home.
They’ve had their issues defensively, of course, as they rank 18th with 3.03 goals against per game under Keefe and 22nd with 3.08 goals per game at home on the season as a whole.
Their penalty kill sits 21st with an 80% mark at home on the season, however also sits 11th with an 82.3% mark under Keefe.
Getting the starting nod in goal for the Leafs tonight will be Frederik Andersen after Michael Hutchinson shut down the Sens on Saturday.
Andersen, like his teammates, struggled heading into the break and the Maple Leafs’ bye week, has come back strong.
Andersen has posted a .929 Sv% over two starts since the break.
He enters this one sporting a 2.87 GAA and .910 Sv% on the season to go along with a 3.16 GAA and .901 Sv% in 22 games at home compared to a stellar 2.52 GAA and .922 Sv% on the road.
Andersen was pulled after allowing four goals on just 12 shots in an eventual 8-4 loss to the Panthers back on January 12th.
This game is a crucial one for both sides here and to me it’s just a devastating blow for the Panthers not to have Barkov going for this one.
There’s players such as Jonathan Huberdeau that are also having big years for Florida, but know that Barkov is certainly the engine of his offense and a monster at both ends of the ice as part of being one of the best 200-foot centers in the NHL.
The Maple Leafs’ offense, almost exclusively at 5v5, as been shut down at home of late, but they’re still one of the best offenses in the game and Bobrovsky has been atrocious on the road this season.
Needless to say, I’m with the home side here.
I also like the fact that the Maple Leafs’ power play remains dominant, the Panthers’ penalty kill has struggled and Frederik Andersen has looked much more like himself of late.
When Andersen is on he is one of the best goaltenders in the league, and he’s on right now. His .910 Sv% on the season is below the standard he has set in his career, which is a save percentage between .917 and .919 in each of the last four seasons.
I considered the Maple Leafs on the puckline here at +135, but I think I will pay a little bit to go down to their three-way moneyline odds at -125 to win this one in regulation time tonight.