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Maple Leafs vs. Canucks Odds & Pick: Back Toronto to Get Revenge in Rematch (March 6)

Maple Leafs vs. Canucks Odds & Pick: Back Toronto to Get Revenge in Rematch (March 6) article feature image

Derek Cain/Getty Images. Pictured: Vancouver’s Thatcher Demko (35) against Toronto’s Mitchell Marner (16).

  • Vancouver won Thursday's matchup against Toronto 3-1.
  • The Leafs' Auston Matthews is beginning to find his form again after missing time for injury.
  • Matt Russell thinks its a smart bet to expect Toronto to rebound from its loss, as Vancouver typically struggles immediately following a win.

Maple Leafs vs. Canucks Odds

Maple Leafs Odds -175
Canucks Odds +140
Over/Under 6.5
Time | TV Saturday, 7 p.m. ET
Odds as of Friday night and via BetMGM.

“You can throw out the record books when these teams meet,” is a phrase you hear all the time when two rivals go head-to-head. For whatever reason, usually familiarity, the teams always  match up to play competitive games.

The Senators seem to always play the Canadiens well. Back when you could cross the border, it didn’t matter the current state of the Leafs and Sabres, they would always be a tough game. It was the same thing for the Canucks and Blackhawks for a long time. 

The Maple Leafs and Canucks were not that. Until this season, Toronto and Vancouver only played twice a year, and in just about every case, the team that was on the better side of their current form took care of business.

The Canucks at their peak went 10 years almost never losing to the Leafs. Now that the Leafs are in a good cycle, they’ve won more matchups. When it comes to Saturday, I’ll be throwing out the RATINGS when looking to bet this game. 

Toronto Maple Leafs

In this space, and in our collective ‘Best Bets’ column on Thursday night, I wrote about the terrible schedule spot the Leafs were facing moving from Edmonton to Vancouver in the span of 24 hours. It didn’t seem to bother them in the first period as they were able to take the play to the Canucks in the first period and keep the game tied at one, after an early Canucks’ goal.

Perhaps tired legs caught up to the Leafs as they weren’t able to muster much in the way of a 3rd-period push after falling down 2-1. No one could have blamed the Leafs for phoning one in, but that’s hardly what happened in their 3-1 loss. 

As we shift from Thursday’s game to Saturday’s feature presentation on Hockey Night In Canada, there’s several reasons to like the Leafs in the rematch. Firstly, there’s a couple of lineup shifts that are going to benefit Toronto. 

  1. The Return of Freddy: The Leafs’ number one goaltender returned for the last of the three-game set with the Oilers, but given the back-to-back nature of Thursday’s game, Frederik Andersen was appropriately sidelined in favour of third-string goaltender Michael Hutchinson. Andersen will be back between the pipes Saturday. 
  2.  Back to Braden: While the Leafs’ are expected to start their best option in net, the Canucks have a tendency to rotate their goaltenders more freely, which means there’s a chance that we see veteran Braden Holtby in net Saturday. This is less certain, but brings the possibility of the Leafs getting an upgrade and the Canucks downgrading in goal. 
  3. Auston’s Powers: The Leafs super-sniper, Auston Matthews, returned from a couple games’ absence against the Oilers on Wednesday, and he may not have been fully in rhythm on Thursday. He had a couple great chances that he seems less likely to have missed when he was at his finest a couple weeks ago. 

For the fourth lineup issue that’s benefiting the Leafs, we have to turn our attention to the Canucks. 

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Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.

Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.

xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.

Vancouver Canucks

For those of us backing the Canucks on Thursday, the worst news possible came down shortly before puck drop. Star offensive creator, Elias Petterson was ruled out with a mysterious and surprising upper body injury. Even given the spot favouring the Canucks, there’s no way I would have gotten involved in this game if I had known he wasn’t going to play. As of this writing, Petterson remains questionable for Saturday. If the Canucks plan to rely on a pair of goals from Jake Virtanen again, that seems like a foolish plot. 

There are plenty of reasons to deem the Canucks a valuable bet going into the first game with the Leafs, including their underrated play at home this season, with a 56% Expected Goal Share in their previous 10 games. It was disappointing that even without Petterson, the Canucks had 1.42 Expected Goals at even-strength while the Leafs were good for 1.87. 

The Canucks struggled on their trip to Toronto a couple weeks back, getting swept over the course of three games, with the first two games not being particularly close.

There’s no reason to think that the Leafs couldn’t put together a really good performance after the loss. That’s what the Leafs have been doing all season, taking the Expected Goal Share and the High-Danger Chance Share at even strength at a 59% rate. On the flip side, in the games after their six wins against teams not named the Ottawa Senators, the Canucks have won the Expected Goal Share just once. They lost that game to Winnipeg.

Betting Analysis & Pick

While the situation for the underdog was too much to pass up on Thursday, I’m quite comfortable with passing on it on Saturday. My “Let’s Do That Hockey” model has the Leafs’ up to 5% above average at even-strength and the Canucks down to 9% below average, which only translates to just a 55% chance to get the win on the road. 

The situation here favours the Leafs, given that all the potential variables point in their direction from a lineup standpoint. Add on the tendencies of each team after a win for the Canucks and the loss for the Leafs, then we’re veering closer to making the Leafs a viable bet. 

With a projected opening moneyline price of TOR -170, there’s never going to be “value” in the traditional sense, and we’d prefer a price closer to -150, but as long as this number doesn’t creep up and over -180, I could sign off on risking a big number on rematch revenge for Toronto. 

Pick: Maple Leafs (-175 or better)

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