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Odds & Pick for Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens: There’s Value on Montreal at Home

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David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Carey Price.

  • The hot Toronto Maple Leafs travel east to take on the Montreal Canadiens in North Division action on Wednesday night.
  • The Leafs are playing well, but Montreal has a big edge between the pipes with the always steady Carey Price.
  • Matt Russell lays out how he’s looking to bet this game and why he sees value on the Habs.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens Odds

Maple Leafs Odds -104
Canadiens Odds -113
Over/Under 6.5
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds as of Tuesday night and via DraftKings.

“The Big Chill” (1983) is a decent movie. It’s one of those character-driven movies for people of the same age as the characters who spend two hours wondering what happened to their youth.

You put “The Big Chill” on and half pay attention to it and feel good about the experience. It will always be rewatchable just based on the familiarity of the soundtrack and much of the cast.

A Maple Leafs-Canadiens matchup is very similar. The uniforms never change, and tuning into the game will bring a level of comfort for hockey fans. Like a good movie soundtrack, it will make you feel something. Especially if you’ve ever had allegiances for, or more likely, against one of the teams.

Sometimes, like “The Big Chill,” it’s not particularly good from a matchup standpoint. Sometimes there’s a goaltender involved that makes you wonder like Jeff Goldblum’s character — why’s he in there?

This year, that’s not the case. Leafs-Habs is more than just hockey’s comfort content. It’s legitimately fun to watch and give it your full attention, not just have on in the room. 

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Toronto Maple Leafs

The Leafs just dusted the Canucks on Monday night. Unfortunately, for my compatriots out west, that’s probably not going to be a unique result for Vancouver this season unless the defense tightens up in a big way.

Toronto went from a historically efficient power play to recently finding a way to convert their even-strength High-Danger Chances (HDC) at an unsustainable rate. However, if the Leafs just continue to alternate hot shooting in each scoring situation, they’ll be just fine. 

As Toronto piles up wins, their rating in my “Let’s Do That Hockey” model has slowly improved to a level where they’re almost 7% above average in the North Division. The Leafs have gotten scoring from both Austin Matthews and their secondary options. 

Frederik Andersen has been just good enough between the pipes, getting all the starts with the Leafs unwilling to rest him with back-up goalie Jack Campbell out with injury. Andersen’s biggest strength this season has been his availability, as he still sits with a -1.98 Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA). 

Montreal Canadiens

If the Leafs are heating up at even-strength,  the Habs are on fire. Montreal has lost three times in its last 11 games since a season-opening overtime loss in Toronto, and in each game they were the much better team 5-on-5. Montreal has a 44-16 HDC advantage in those three games. The Canadiens have an Expected Goal Share (xG%) of 65.8% in those three games. While not taking advantage of its even-strength dominance was something that troubled them last year, Montreal seems to have removed the stinker-type games from its repertoire. 

One statistical anomaly for the Canadiens comes from their opponents’ inability to convert when they are afforded HDC by the Habs’ stout defensive system. Giving up just over six HDC per game is one thing, and certainly a thing you want to keep doing, but Montreal’s opponents have scored just four times all season from these great scoring opportunities.

While that fits with Carey Price’s ability to make the great save more often than most (and at times give up a soft one), it’s still unlikely to carry on at that rate. 

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Betting Analysis & Pick

Regression is due for both teams in a couple of different ways, so this game could be 6-5 just as easily as it could be 2-1. If you’re the Leafs, you’d probably prefer the former, just as the Habs would rather have the latter. From a rating standpoint, though, I just can’t ignore the considerable difference in favor of the Canadiens, as my model gives them a 57% win probability. 

The market has the Habs as the slightest of favorites as of this writing with MTL -115, which translates to 53% win probability. I’m content with grabbing that number and a 4% edge in a game that I’ll be happy to turn everything off and watch closely.

Even if the soundtrack isn’t going to get my toe tapping like songs from “The Big Chill.”

Pick: Canadiens (-115 or better)

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