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Maple Leafs vs. Oilers Odds & Picks: Buy Low on Edmonton on Thursday Night (Jan. 28)

Maple Leafs vs. Oilers Odds & Picks: Buy Low on Edmonton on Thursday Night (Jan. 28) article feature image

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  • The Toronto Maple Leafs have won six of their first eight games of the 2021 season but there are reasons to be at least a little bit skeptical of Toronto's success, most notably because its power play is operating at a ridiculous rate.
  • Matt Russell explains why he thinks the Oilers are a good value bet as an underdog on Thursday.

Maple Leafs vs. Oilers Odds

Maple Leafs Odds -129 
Oilers Odds +112 
Over/Under 6.5 
Time 10 p.m. ET
Odds as of Wednesday night and via DraftKings.

This game is cool, but I’m already excited for the revenge spot rematch in the rematch of the back-to-back where a rematch was won by a team looking for revenge. 

Wait, what?

You’re right, let’s not get ahead of ourselves as we look at the Toronto Maple Leafs visit to Edmonton for the first of two games against the Oilers. It’s just our first rematch back-to-back of a back-to-back in the North Division this season.

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Toronto Maple Leafs

The Leafs have already had a successful trip to Alberta, edging the Flames a pair of times in Calgary, as they climb to an early lead in “Canada’s Division.”

I’m not going to say that Toronto’s 6-2 record this season has been lucky, but there have been a couple instances of panic in Leafs’ Nation despite the good record. That panic has been warranted as the Leafs were definitely better than the opponent in just two of those games, with an Expected Goal Share (XG%) of over 60% in a win over Ottawa and a win over Winnipeg. Every other game was some degree of a 50-50 proposition.

The first time around with Edmonton, for example, saw the teams split despite the Oilers finishing both games with more High-Danger Chances 5-on-5 than the Leafs (6-4, and 7-5), and leaving town with 2.95 Expected Goals For (XGF) to Toronto’s 1.99 XGF.

The story was similar in Calgary with the Flames creating more quality scoring chances than the Leafs, and rating at a 56.3% XG% to the Leafs 43.7%. The scoreboard though, is all that matters to bettors, and the Leafs have been paying more often than not.

Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.

Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.

xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.

Edmonton Oilers

Bettors backing the Oilers can’t say they have been getting paid more often than not. With a 3-5 record, the Oilers have 3 splits to their name after four back-to-back matchups. Edmonton returns home after a stop in Winnipeg for a pair, where they scored a dramatic win in the front-end on a Leon Draisaitl goal at the buzzer. In the rematch Tuesday, the Jets got their revenge with a big third period push.

Now the Oilers return home after a slightly longer flight than the Leafs had from Calgary, and fit right into the NHL-betting trope of ‘fade a team in the first game home after a road trip.’

The Oilers bigger concern might be the one player that they probably feel they should never be concerned about – Connor McDavid. While Auston Matthew has been in and out of the lineup, he’s been scoring when IN the lineup. McDavid had a hat-trick in the second game of the season which included a power play goal, but since then the power play continues to struggle, still just 10.7%. This is a stark contrast to the Leafs man-advantage unit that is second in the league among teams playing more than three games.

Maple Leafs-Oilers Pick

The issue with using power play efficiency to build a handicap for a single game, is it’s lack of predictiveness. We used this massive gap between the teams’ units to back the Leafs in the first match-up only to see the Oilers get the games’ lone PPG, the difference-maker in the win for Edmonton. After all, the Leafs have averaged just three opportunities on the man-advantage, while the Oilers average 3.5 PP/G.

As in most every case, we’re left with the 5-on-5 numbers to evaluate whether there’s anything to bet in this game. My ratings have the Oilers as 5% better than the Leafs at even-strength relative to the schedule they’ve played. That’s not enough of a discrepancy to make this game any more than a pick’em when factoring in average market prices.

It is enough to provide a lean as we wait for the market to form. If this game opens -110 on each side, that’s a pass, as I would need +110 to back the Leafs. I would bet the Oilers, should their price get to even-money, which knowing what we know about both teams, is a more likely result after bettors weigh-in. Even if I’m more excited about the second game – the rematch to the rematch… or something like that.

Pick:  Oilers (+100 or better)

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