Sunday NHL Odds & Picks for Maple Leafs vs. Flames: Bet On Calgary Against Visiting Toronto
Derek Leung/Getty Images. Pictured: Jacob Markstrom.
Maple Leafs vs. Flames Odds
|Maple Leafs Odds||-103|
|Time||4 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Saturday night and via DraftKings.|
Remember the Flames? Hockey team? Based in Calgary? Ring a bell? No?
I can’t blame you. For reasons that will likely remain unanswered, the Flames haven’t played since Monday. No COVID 19-related scheduling issues, no positive tests or contract tracing. They just haven’t played.
The North Division’s early season scheduling quirk brings the Flames back into the fold after nearly a week off.
A lot has happened since Calgary played last. Not for the Flames, but for their opponent — the Toronto Maple Leafs. Toronto has played games. A bunch of them. In fact, the Leafs have actually played twice as many games as the Flames this season.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs have a 4-2 record, but it hasn’t been pretty.
They’ve been below-average in the key 5-on-5 metrics that we discuss on THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast. Just 6.66 High-Danger Chances (HDC) per game and a sub-standard conversion rate of 10.75% on those chances tell you Toronto’s big-money stars aren’t creating enough chances at even strength, and not converting any better than those paid at a fraction of the price.
The good news for the Leafs is that their opponents haven’t been able to take advantage of the mediocre play 5-on-5, and Toronto has done enough on the power play with an unsustainable 38.9% success rate to give itself the slightest edge in the more games than not.
Sometimes it’s not even that complicated. Of the Leafs’ four wins, two have come in overtime. The other two were back ends of back-to-backs with Ottawa and Edmonton after losing the first.
We’re yet to see this Leafs outfit win in regulation without needing to get beat first.
The Flames’ absence from competition shouldn’t be enough to make you forget them. This is a team my model was lukewarm on to start the season, but that’s mainly thanks to the poor goaltending to which they’d become accustomed and hadn’t officially accounted for the bump they’d get from the addition of Jacob Markstrom.
The former Canucks netminder already has a shutout against his former team and top-10 Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA) in limited work. The market is catching up, though, as their rating has increased with each game and it’s already approaching the rating of the Leafs, the betting market’s most popular team.
The problem for us with trying to decide whether this rating is appropriate is the obvious one: We haven’t seen the Flames enough.
There was the shoddy defensive performance against the Jets that allowed an Expected Goals Against (xGA) rate of 2.1 in an overtime loss. Then there was the full shutdown for 5 of 6 periods in a mini-sweep of the Canucks.
Ideally, I’d like to see them play a third team for some frame of reference.
Maple Leafs-Flames Pick
My “Let’s Do That Hockey” model makes the Flames the favorite expecting the line to be Calgary -126/Toronto +106, but the question will be whether the market agrees.
It might depend on Auston Matthews’ availability. If he’s in the lineup, it naturally makes the Leafs more attractive to bettors. After all, Toronto beat Edmonton on Friday without him, so why wouldn’t the Leafs be valuable back at full strength?
The early projections and soft openers suggest that either Matthews remains out or oddsmakers don’t particularly care. So there might not be anything to see here and we can go back to forgetting about Calgary for another day.
However, if the Leafs’ enthusiasts weigh in and push Toronto to a favorite or even close to Pick’em, then we’ll be ready to fire on the Flames.
Pick: Flames (-110 or better; -120 if Matthews sits)