Two of the beasts within the NHL’s North division will face-off for a mid-afternoon matinee from Calgary, Alberta – as the Leafs travel out west to try and douse the Flames.
Prior to the season, both squads were pegged as two of the likely favourites to win this division, though the early season form of Montreal might force some to re-consider that idea.
For Toronto, this will be an intriguing rest spot for them, as it’s already their seventh game of the season in just 11 days. The condensed schedule has resulted in some injuries and inconsistent play for the Buds, as they’re already without scorers Nick Robertson and Joe Thornton up front. It also remains to be seen if Auston Matthews will suit up for Toronto, after sitting out in Friday’s win over Edmonton.
Calgary meanwhile enters fully healthy and well-rested for this afternoon affair. They’ve been off for nearly a week, last seeing the Flames following a routine sweep of the lowly Canucks last Monday. Calgary blends good team toughness, grit, and high-end skill altogether to frustrate their opponents, and new goaltender Jacob Markstrom has seemingly solidified the questions in goal.
It’s expected that Markstrom will get the nod once again for Sunday afternoon, while it’s uncertain who goes for the Leafs. The thinking here is that they’ll return to their starter once again, in big Dane Freddie Andersen. He has been steady in recent outings.
For further team news, up-to-date injury analysis, and a betting prediction for Toronto vs. Calgary, continue reading on beneath the posted odds for a wagering breakdown for this Sunday afternoon contest.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Calgary Flames Betting Odds:
Toronto Maple Leafs (-110)
Calgary Flames (-110)
Over 6.5 (-105)
Under 6.5 (-115)
*Betting odds provided by BetOnline.ag
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Calgary Flames Pick:
It is a tad surprising that as of Sunday morning, this line remains a pick’em on both sides. That is especially true as the status of Leafs’ star centre Auston Matthews remains very much in doubt. Matthews of course remains the straw that stirs the drink for the Buds, playing in all key situations, logging key minutes, and scoring better than perhaps anyone in the NHL.
Though the Leafs did win without him on Friday, a lowly Edmonton team devoid of much depth is a far-cry from what Calgary offers. The Flames boast three deep scoring lines up front, a battle-tested and gritty defensive group, and one of the game’s best goalies in Jacob Markstrom. For a Toronto squad that has had some puzzling difficulty scoring at 5v5, another outing without Matthews could continue to expose some of this team’s flaws.
There is also the issue of the start-time, rest, and the impact on the Leafs’ collective body-clocks. Toronto typically stays out East for much of their seasons, almost always playing at 7:00 PM EST. Now, being forced into a Sunday afternoon affair in a condensed schedule might definitely leave this depleted team sluggish. Head coach Sheldon Keefe is already severely leaning on his top talents to play upwards of 25 minutes a night, and with this quick turnaround from last Friday, you have to wonder what quality the Leafs will be at on Sunday.
The Flames should be able to handle the Leafs’ skill up front, and overwhelm them with well-rested and fresh legs throughout their lineup. They boast a defensive corps that won’t give up much, and Jacob Markstrom is already proving to be in fine form early on in this season. With last change, look for the Flames to match their skilled lines with Toronto’s very weak third and fourth-line options, and that could make all the difference.
Though Toronto has fared well in key possession metrics, their quality of chances continue to leave bettors wanting more. This should be a more dominant team, but they’ve yet to show that this season. Calgary has, and at a generous pick’em price, and the shot of taking on the Leafs without Auston Matthews, the Flames should be primed to crisp the Leafs on Sunday afternoon.