Finding an Edge in Penguins-Leafs

Finding an Edge in Penguins-Leafs article feature image

Charles LeClaire, USA Today

It’s Hockey Night in Canada, and the network people must be thrilled about this one. We’ve got ourselves a marquee matchup between the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Penguins have continued their second-half roll and are on a three-game win streak. The Leafs, on the other hand, have hit a bit of a snag of late, losing four in a row after a great run in February.

Here we go.

All info as of Saturday morning. Check back during the day and keep an eye on our Twitter handle for any updates.

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Pittsburgh Penguins (-115) @ Toronto Maple Leafs (-105) | O/U 6.5

7 p.m. ET, NHL Network

Auston Out: Toronto will still be without its leading goal scorer, Auston Matthews, on Saturday night. Since Matthews got injured Feb. 22, the Leafs have gone 1-2-2, but their underlying numbers have been impressive in this very small sample. In the five games without Matthews, the Leafs have a 54.22 Corsi For % (meaning Toronto takes 54.22% of the shot attempts at 5-on-5 in a game, on average, compared to their opponents — a good indicator of possession), which is well above their season average. — Michael Leboff

Danger Zone: If this game goes according to script, we should see a seesaw battle. The Penguins and Leafs are among the NHL’s best teams at creating high-danger scoring chances at 5-on-5. The Penguins average 12.06 high-danger chances per 60 minutes, while the Leafs are just a few spots behind, creating an average of 11.78. While it’s hard to separate the two teams, the Leafs have been the better team at preventing high-danger chances. Toronto is just about league average, allowing 10.87 high-danger chances against per 60, while Pittsburgh ranks 27th in the NHL with an average of 12.17. — Michael Leboff

Goalies: No matter who is in goal for Pittsburgh — either Tristan Jarry or Casey DeSmith — Toronto has a clear advantage in the blue paint. Frederik Andersen has been quality all season for the Leafs with his .923 5-on-5 save percentage and 6.71 goals saved above average (the number of goals saved compared to a hypothetical league-average goaltender, also known as GSAA). — Michael Leboff

Patric Hornqvist via Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pace Makers: This game is likely to be played at a high pace, with both teams leading the way on the four-game main slate in Corsi For expectation. Today also features two teams in the top 10 in penalty kill. In theory, that could certainly slow down both high-flying power plays, but, either way, the two players most likely to take advantage from a peripheral stats perspective are Kris Letang and Patric Hornqvist. They rank in the 98th and 96th percentile in shots+blocks over the past month, respectively. The next closest skater in this game is Evgeni Malkin in the 89th percentile. — Joe Holka

Maatta Money: If you’re searching for value in this game, Olli Maatta, who’s priced at $4,100 on DraftKings, stands out. He could be a strong pivot away from a chalky Pittsburgh PP1 stack, and instead of looking to Toronto on the other side of this game, consider Maata, whose 86th percentile shots+blocks outpaces every Maple Leaf but Morgan Rielly (88th percentile). Historically, power-play skaters with comparable peripheral stats, low price tags and Vegas implied totals have performed above their salary-based expectation (+0.61 DraftKings Plus/Minus) with a 51.7% Consistency Rating. — Joe Holka

Home Cooking: Toronto went 0-4 on its most recent road trip. A home game is just what the Leafs need. Since 2005, good teams (win rate of 55% or better) that have lost four or more consecutive games late in the season (March-April) have gone 18-7 (72%) straight-up when they play their next game at home. — John Ewing

Sometimes More Is Less: The Maple Leafs haven’t played since Monday and have also dropped four games in a row entering this showdown. When teams are on a losing streak with extended rest (three or more days), it usually doesn’t end well for bettors, as they have an ROI of -8.9%. — Evan Abrams

Geno Delivers: Evgeni Malkin has been a disrupting force for the Penguins in his career against the Maple Leafs. In Malkin’s 34 games against Toronto, the Pens are 19-15 on the moneyline, and the Russian forward has notched 58 points. He is riding a four-game goal streak and a five-game point streak against the Leafs. — Evan Abrams

Top Photo: Kris Letang (L), Ron Hainsey (R)

Credit: Charles LeClaire, USA Today Sports

Stats in betting analysis are at 5-on-5 unless otherwise noted. Stats in DFS analysis consider all skating situations unless otherwise noted.