Oilers vs. Maple Leafs Odds & Picks: Back Toronto’s Red-Hot Power Play

Oilers vs. Maple Leafs Odds & Picks: Back Toronto’s Red-Hot Power Play article feature image
Credit:

Claus Andersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Auston Matthews.

  • The Oilers travel east to Toronto for a Wednesday night matchup between differing power plays.
  • While Edmonton has a minus-1 this season with a man advantage, the Leafs are flying high at 5-on-4.
  • Matt Russell explains why that is such a drastic difference and why he's backing Toronto.

Oilers vs. Maple Leafs Odds

Oilers Odds +129 [BET NOW]
Maple Leafs Odds -150 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 6.5 [BET NOW]
Time 7 p.m. ET
TV NBCSN
Odds as of Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. ET and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

Thirty years ago, it seemed like every hockey player did just one thing well and that was good enough.

Remember the Nintendo game “Ice Hockey” where you selected five players based on a criteria that Goldie Locks would be proud of — Big Fat Guy, Super Skinny Guy and Average Guy? That’s what it was like.

Hall of Famer Brett Hull was an incredible shooter, not much else. Hall of Famer Mike Gartner was incredibly fast, above-average elsewhere. Al MacInnis had a bomb from the point, not known for his defensive aggression.

Pick your favorite team’s longtime enforcer — not good at skating on ice. 

Individual players in the current era are much more multi-dimensional, and the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Edmonton Oilers are the team versions of this concept.

Toronto and Edmonton’s 5-on-5 metrics are very much average, their goaltending has been subpar this season and they give up more High-Danger Scoring Chances than their truly knowledgeable fanbases can handle.

That said, coming into the season, you didn’t want anything to do with either team’s power play. The Oilers lead the NHL with a 29.5% success rate with the man advantage, while the Leafs ranked in the top five. None of this is surprising with the talent they can put on the ice in these situations.

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Edmonton Oilers

In my proprietary model at THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast, that we affectionately call “Let’s Do That Hockey,” the Oilers are a dead-even average team 5-on-5, having started the season 1-3.

Obviously, all it takes to make Edmonton at .500 team is turning one of the losses to a win. So why aren’t the Oilers a .500 team in this early stage of the season?

Try going 2 of 18 on the power play. Make sense now?

Part of what makes my hockey model mine is that I don’t put much predictive value in power-play success on a game-to-game basis. Would you have predicted a unit that clicked three out of 10 times last season would struggle to the point where in their last game against Montreal, they’d be minus-1 on seven attempts with the man advantage?

That’s not a misprint. Minus-1. They scored zero and gave up a short-handed goal. It’s not the first time that’s happened, either. The Oilers’ opponents have scored just as many goals as they have on their power plays this season. 

Can we expect those struggles to continue, or the Oilers’ power play to progress to the mean?

When it comes to special teams in hockey, there’s two key components to increasing success: Get more talented, or change your plan.

The Oilers are already thoroughly talented, so there’s not much they can do on the personnel side. As for their plan, that’s the type of thing that happens in practice. In a congested schedule season like the one we’re in, practice time is at a premium. So while I don’t think power-play success is predictive, I think there’s something to be said for a team coming in hot on the power play — or one that is really struggling.


Toronto Maple Leafs

Struggling isn’t how you’d describe the Maple Leafs power play. Their man-advantage success rate of 42.9% is among a group of teams that won’t be able to maintain that success for a full season.

That doesn’t  mean the Leafs can’t get it while the going’s good. Toronto’s 3-1 record is built on the six power-play goals (and no short-handed goals given up) and masks a 5-on-5 rating that my model puts them at just 5% above average. Also consider that 25% of that number is built on a game against Winnipeg on Monday for which we’re all still waiting for the Jets to show up.

There’s going to be a ton of games (at one point recently I thought maybe all of them) in which we’re going to be taking the Maple Leafs’ opponent just on value, because the team Toronto faces matches up well 5-on-5 and the special teams doesn’t provide much in the way of predictiveness.

This is not that matchup. This is not one of those games. The blazing heat of the Maple Leafs’ power play to start the season is something that has to be factored in beyond the 5-on-5 rating. 

Oilers-Maple Leafs Pick

If we ignored the “two ships passing in the night”element of the respective power plays, my true moneyline would make the Leafs a small favorite at -106.

Since that’s not how sportsbooks work, the expectation would be something like -120/+100. Instead, the Leafs are being lined close to -155, which is exactly in line with my projection when giving the Leafs a 20% increase to their win probability based on their averaging +1.5 goals per game on the power play and the Oilers’ lack of success.

This is the first road trip of the season for the Oilers, as they fly from Edmonton to Toronto at a time when they much rather be putting in some practice reps to help the power play. So what can we expect from a preparation standpoint that would lead us to believe the Oilers will have tightened things up on the man advantage?

Meanwhile, the Leafs rest at home, with their power-play plans working to relative perfection. There won’t be many times this season where the Leafs are dealing you a fair price, and I’m loathe to lay more that -150 on a regular-season hockey game, but until we see the Oilers clicking, we have to treat them like the Big Fat Guys from “Ice Hockey” — stay far, far away, or risk getting flattened.

The Pick: Maple Leafs (-150 or better) 

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