NHL Betting Betting Odds and Picks (Thursday, Feb. 27): Maple Leafs vs. Panthers, Islanders vs. Blues and More
Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Sergei Bobrovsky
- Updated odds for the Maple Leafs vs. Panthers matchup list the Leafs as a slight favorite on the road (Moneyline: -112).
- Toronto is dealing with significant injuries at the moment and both teams are fighting for playoff positioning.
- Get our expert's Leafs vs. Panthers betting picks below, plus see how he's are betting the rest of the slate.
It seems like every team is dealing with major injuries right now, but few squads have been bit by the injury bug quite like the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Maple Leafs, who were already missing defensemen Morgan Rielly and Cody Ceci, will now be without the services of Jake Muzzin, the team’s best defensive-defenseman, for four weeks. Toronto has enough scoring jazz to cover up its weaknesses on the blueline, but this is a lot for any team to handle.
Toronto has a gigantic game against the Panthers on Thursday night.
Toronto Maple Leafs at Florida Panthers
- Maple Leafs odds: -112
- Panthers odds: -105
- Over/Under: 7
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
The Florida Panthers trail the Maple Leafs, who have played one more game than the Cats, by two points for No. 3 spot in the Atlantic Division, so the stakes are as high as they could be for a regular season game in late February.
Neither team has looked particularly interested in running away with the third and likely final playoff spot in the Atlantic. Since Feb. 1, the Panthers are 5-8-1. That type of run should have buried the Cats, but Toronto is just 6-6-1 in that same span, which has kept Florida in the mix.
The main difference between these two teams in that span is their 5-on-5 metrics.
Despite their mediocre record, Toronto has a 52.3% expected goals rate in its last 13 games while Florida’s sits at just 43.4% since the beginning of the month.
Florida’s 5-on-5 struggles are noteworthy, especially since this recent run isn’t a blip on the radar. The Panthers have struggled to drive play all season with a 48.1% expected goals rate and a bottom-10 ranking in expected goals against per 60 minutes. There’s not much there to inspire confidence there, but this Toronto defense — especially as it’s currently constructed — should struggle to contain Florida’s talented forwards.
The listed odds suggest that the Maple Leafs win this game 50.8% of the time and I don’t think that number has adjusted enough for Toronto’s injuries on the back end. The Panthers have home-ice advantage which means they will have the final change and the opportunity to match their big guns against the bottom of the Leafs’ banged-up blueline.
There’s al ways the risk that the Buds come out and barnstorm the Panthers — they just beat Tampa Bay — but there’s just as much a chance that Toronto falls flat on its face. That’s the type of team we’re dealing with here. This game may be pretty close to a coin flip, but I’d make the Panthers favorites on home ice and would play the Cats up to -115.
Around the League
The New York Islanders (+145) addressed a glaring hole in their lineup by trading for third-line center Jean-Gabriel Pageau at the trade deadline. Barry Trotz loves to roll four lines and Pageau’s arrival immediately balances out a roster that was once very top-heavy. The St. Louis Blues (-170) are a 5-on-5 juggernaut lately, but I think this game is closer than the odds appear, given the Islanders’ ability to turn contests in coin flips when they’re going well.
The current odds imply St. Louis wins this game nearly 61% of the time and I think that is a little high. I am banking on the improvements the Isles showed against the Rangers on Tuesday night to stick, but I’d rather be early on a team than late.
Unfortunately, I also bet the Detroit Red Wings (+190) tonight. Detroit is historically awful and got worse at the deadline, but the Minnesota Wild (-230) have two glaring holes that make me skeptical that they should be this big of a favorite — especially on the road. Minnesota has the worst goaltending tandem in the NHL and it struggles to score. It makes my stomach upset, but I’ll back the Wings at +185 or better.