NHL Odds & Picks for Maple Leafs vs. Canucks: Bet Toronto to Crush Vancouver (April 20)

NHL Odds & Picks for Maple Leafs vs. Canucks: Bet Toronto to Crush Vancouver (April 20) article feature image
Credit:

Claus Andersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Auston Matthews.

  • The Maple Leafs look to bounce back from a shocking loss last time out against the Canucks.
  • It was Vancouver's first game in 25 days due to a COVID-19 breakout within the team
  • Pete Truszkowski breaks down why he's backing the Leafs to bounce back on Tuesday night.

Maple Leafs vs. Canucks Odds

Maple Leafs Odds -275
Canucks Odds +230
Over/Under 6.5
Time Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET
TV ESPN+
Odds as of Tuesday evening and via BetMGM.

There are 30 fanbases in the NHL that absolutely love to laugh at the Toronto Maple Leafs. The media talks about them way too much and Leafs fans are arrogant, which is comical when you consider the fact they haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1967 or a playoff series since 2004. 

Fortunately for the other 30 fanbases, this team likes to produce a “LOL LEAFS” moment about once a season. Last year, they lost a game in which their own zamboni driver was forced to play goaltender for the other team. This year, that moment might have occurred on Sunday night. 

The Leafs lost to the Vancouver Canucks, who were playing their first game since a 25-day hiatus caused by 26 members of the organization testing positive for COVID-19. There was a lot of talk, including from members of the Canucks, about how they weren’t near ready to return to play and how the league was putting them in an impossible position. Despite missing some key players, the Canucks erased a 2-0 deficit to win the game in overtime. 

The same two teams meet on Tuesday night. Can the Canucks do it again?

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Toronto Maple Leafs

While the Leafs might be everyone’s favorite team to hate and root against, it doesn’t mean they’re a bad team. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Toronto has a 28-12-5 record and sits comfortably atop the North Division. They are the clear favorite to come out of the division come playoff time.

The Leafs’ record is deserved. According to MoneyPuck, Toronto has the second best expected goal rate in the league at 55.2% and leads the league in expected goals scored per hour. The Leafs also have the third-best high-danger chance percentage in the league.

Offensively, Toronto scores 2.72 goals per hour at 5-on-5, which is the fourth-best mark in the NHL. When looking at their forwards, it’s no surprise to see them near the top of the league. Auston Matthews is widely considered the most dangerous goal scorer in the league, while Mitch Marner and John Tavares would be considered franchise players on many other teams. 

On the defensive side of the ice, things aren’t as prolific. They rank near the league median in most defensive metrics, but they are sixth in goals against per 60 minutes at even strength. The team continues to be without Frederik Andersen between the pipes, but Jack Campbell has been one of the better goalies in the league with a +5.5 goals saved above expectation (GSAx). 

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Vancouver Canucks

Sunday’s feel-good win for the Canucks might be the highlight of their season. After an impressive showing in the bubble last summer, expectations were raised for the young Canucks, but they’ve failed to meet them. Vancouver currently has a 17-18-3 record and it won’t be easy to make up any ground with how frantic their schedule will be to close the season. 

Vancouver has struggled to play with the puck this season. It ranks inside the bottom five in terms of both expected goal rate and shot attempt rate. It also ranks 24th in high-danger chance percentage. 

The Canucks have especially struggled when it comes to their defensive effort. Their mark of 2.78 expected goals against per hour at 5-on-5 is by far the worst in the league. They rank 29th in high danger chances allowed. It’s no surprise they are near the bottom in terms of goals against per 60 minutes, as they sit in 25th. 

The Canucks do have some good high-end offensive talent, but they’ll be without their best player for likely the rest of the season. Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, JT Miller and Quinn Hughes do have the kind of ability that makes the Canucks dangerous, so they shouldn’t be disregarded. However, without Elias Pettersson, the Canucks’ path to competing for a playoff spot becomes murky. 

Vancouver’s goaltending situation is worth monitoring. Thatcher Demko has broken out as a good young goalie for the Canucks, but he might not be ready to return after a battle with COVID-19. If Demko can’t go, Braden Holtby will get the start for Vancouver. Holtby had a strong performance on Sunday, but that hasn’t been the case for most of the year. He is stopping under 90% of the shots he’s seen this season while posting a GSAx of -3.3. 

Leafs vs. Canucks Best Bet

While I do appreciate the Leafs giving us a laugh every once in a while, it’s important to realize we’re dealing with one of the better teams in the league. Even in Sunday’s loss, MoneyPuck’s “Deserve to Win O-Meter” had the Leafs at over 82%. Toronto had a 3.63-1.63 expected goal advantage in all situations with a 3.16-1.21 score adjusted advantage at 5-on-5. 

Vancouver’s conditioning and will to compete will be tested over the next month as the team will have to play 18 games in a little less than four weeks. We know the impact that COVID has had on professional athletes’ conditioning levels. When you consider 22 players on this team just tested positive, it’s definitely a factor that can’t be ignored. You can get through one game on adrenaline, but that wears off eventually. 

In Sunday’s game, the Leafs might have taken their foot off the gas. They got out to a 2-0 lead and with the narrative surrounding the Canucks, they might have thought they were in for an easy night. I don’t expect this to be an issue again on Tuesday as they saw first hand what could happen. 

Toronto is clearly the better team here and the moneyline validates that thought. Toronto has the offensive firepower to win this game handily, so I’d look towards the puck-line if backing the Leafs in this contest.

Pick: Toronto -1.5 (-115)

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