The Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs are set to do battle at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Thursday night. It should be a good one between two quality rosters. There is a lot of young talent in this game, with a lot of speed likely to be showcased in a competitive contest in downtown Toronto.
The North Division of the NHL is taking shape, with the Maple Leafs and Canadiens currently leading with 16 and 15 points. The Maple Leafs trail the Canadiens by a point going into tonight. The Habs are in action against the useless Ottawa Senators, so if the Senators can pull it off, the Leafs will have an opportunity to move up to first in the division.
The Leafs are coming off a 4-3 loss in overtime against the Edmonton Oilers. They were able to pick up a point, but missed out on the bonus point in Edmonton. In the first game of that two-game series in Alberta, the Leafs were on the opposite side with a 4-3 win, though this was in regulation.
Not a bad trip to Edmonton for the Leafs, as they picked up three of a possible four points against the Oilers. The Leafs swept the Flames, 3-2 and 4-3, for a total of seven points on their trip to Alberta. Toronto returns home to Scotiabank Arena with a record of 7-2-1 and 15 points. They’re feeling confident, though Leafs’ fans want to see results in the playoffs.
Nobody is getting too comfortable in Leafs Nation yet. On paper, the Canucks have talent, but it hasn’t come together for them in the 2020-21 campaign. It’s been a disappointment, and I think if the front office was looking ahead to this year a few years ago, they’d have 2020-21 circled as a big season. It hasn’t been the case, at least so far for the Canucks.
Vancouver heads to Toronto with a record 6-7-0 and 12 points. They are in a tie with the Oilers for fourth in the North Division. Not good enough and the Canucks know that much. The Canucks signed former Washington Capital, Braden Holtby, with the intention of him as the clear No. 1 over Thatcher Demko. Holtby has struggled and Demko hasn’t been much better. Before anything changes in the North Division for the Canucks, they need better defence and goaltending. Head below for our free Canucks vs. Maple Leafs pick on February 4, 2021.
Vancouver Canucks vs. Toronto Maple Leafs NHL Betting Odds:
Canucks vs. Maple Leafs Prediction:
Nothing is going to change for the Vancouver Canucks before somebody steps up and shows some grit defensively. As bad as the goaltending has been for the Canucks, and both Holtby and Demko have to be better, but they’re getting drilled in the crease with shots. The defence has been paper thin for the Canucks this season. Soft as toilet paper sums up their effort defensively. And I’m not talking about the cheap one-ply stuff in public bathrooms.
Travis Hamonic is a good player on the blue line. That said, his presence on the IR is not enough to derail the blue line this much, or at least it shouldn’t. The Canucks are getting peppered with an average of 36 shots against per game. There isn’t another team in the NHL that has allowed more shots than the Canucks.
Braden Holtby has posted a 3.64 GAA and 0.896 save percentage through six games. He’s falling out of favour with head coach Travis Green, who has been opting to side with Demko instead of Holtby slightly more. Demko has made seven starts, with a 3.34 GAA and 0.909 save percentage. Green is just keeping his fingers crossed that one of these guys gets hot. The Canucks are 28th in the league with 3.69 goals against per game.
Fortunately for the Canucks, the offence has kept their heads above water. However, we’ve seen this in the past from teams with all offence and no defence. They generally hover around .500 and don’t show much improvement in the standings. The Canucks have potted 3.4 goals per game, which isn’t enough to make up for their lazy effort defensively. That goes for the forwards, who must need to show more effort backchecking.
The Leafs should be able to take advance of the Canucks, especially on the road. Vancouver has been bad defensively everywhere, but even more so as a visitor. They’ve gotten hammered for 4 goals against on the road. The last three Leafs’ games have finished with a final score of 4-3. I could see another or a 5-3 contest at Scotiabank Arena between the Canucks and Maple Leafs. That would be enough to cash the OVER.