The Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks are scheduled to meet for the second time in three days following an upset on Thursday night. The Canucks, who have been one of the most disappointing teams in the North Division, ended a four-game winning streak for the Maple Leafs. The usually reliable Leafs’ offence was held down for just one goal. Vancouver was able to spring a rare upset by a score of 3-1.
With the win, the Canucks won only their second game in over two weeks. They advanced to 10-15-2 on the season with the win over the Leafs. If they can’t tame the North Division, there certainly would be no better results for the Canucks this season if we were playing under normal circumstances. We would still be talking about an underachieving Canucks squad. The only team with a worse record than the Canucks in the division is the Ottawa Senators at 8-17-1.
The Canucks received timely goaltending from Thatcher Demko on Thursday night. Demko put in a productive performance between the pipes, as he saved 31 of 32 shots sent his way. Michael Hutchinson got the nod for the Maple Leafs, but this wasn’t necessarily a loss because of him being in the crease. Hutchinson could have been better, as he finished with a 0.893 save percentage on 28 shots, though it was a serviceable outing.
Hutchinson is up in the big leagues with the Leafs because of an injury to Jack Campbell. He continues to nurse a lower body injury, while Frederik Andersen and Hutchinson are currently active on the roster. Campbell is listed as questionable to suit up this evening in the second-half of this back-to-back against the Canucks.
Despite the loss, the Leafs are still in control of the North Division. They maintain a healthy seven-point advantage over the Winnipeg Jets for the lead. Toronto is going into tonight with a record of 18-5-2 and 38 points. They would go into the playoffs with the No. 1 seed in the playoffs if things were to hold.
Leafs’ fans remain cautiously optimistic about the playoffs. Beating up on six teams in the North Division is one thing, but success in the playoffs against some of the better teams in the league is another. Head below for our free Maple Leafs vs. Canucks pick on March 6, 2021.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Vancouver Canucks NHL Betting Odds:
Maple Leafs vs. Canucks Prediction:
The Leafs’ loss against the Canucks was their first defeat since a 3-0 defeat against the Calgary Flames on February 22. They responded in their next outing for a win, which has been the norm for the Leafs this season following a loss. In only one instance did the Leafs lose back-to-back games this season. After a pretty poor performance on Thursday night against the struggling Canucks, I think we should expect to see the Leafs in better form tonight.
They are likely going to have more focus, which isn’t going to work in favor of the Canucks in this one. Also note that Frederik Andersen will likely be back in the crease after Hutchinson started on Thursday. That was a back-to-back situation for the Leafs, a night after blowing out the Oilers, 6-1. If there was any moment for a letdown spot for them that was going to be it.
With a night off to reflect on the loss against the Canucks, it’s hard to expect the Leafs coming out with a similar performance in this one. Toronto leads the NHL with an average of 3.5 goals scored per game. Going on the road hasn’t bothered them at all either. You can attribute it to no fans, or staying within Canada, or whatever else, but the Leafs have been filling the net outside of Scotiabank Arena. They’ve been scoring just about at the same clip as at home, with 3.58 goals per game.
Defence has been the biggest improvement for the Leafs this season, though. They’re fourth in the NHL with 2.4 goals conceded per game. That number gets slightly better on the road, with 2.33 goals allowed per game. In their last ten games overall, they’ve allowed 2.1 goals per contest. When teams converge for the playoffs across all of the divisions, then we’ll get a better idea of where the Leafs defence is at, though.
The Canucks’ struggles defensively have been well-documented this season. They’ve been showing improvement, but are far away from where they want to be in that regard. Vancouver is 29th with 3.4 goals against per game, and 30th with 32.8 shots allowed. The Canucks didn’t need Elias Pettersson on Thursday night, but his services would likely be appreciated tonight in what should be a better Toronto team. Pettersson is currently listed as questionable with an upper body injury. I anticipate the Leafs bouncing back tonight in Vancouver. The puckline carries some value at +120.