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NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Hurricanes vs. Maple Leafs (March 17)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Hurricanes vs. Maple Leafs (March 17) article feature image
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Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Freferik Andersen

  • The Toronto Maple Leafs are struggling as they prepare to host the Carolina Hurricanes.
  • Find out how our NHL analyst is betting Thursday night's matchup with picks and predictions based on the latest odds below.

Hurricanes vs. Leafs Odds

Hurricanes Odds -105
Leafs Odds -115
Over/Under 6 (-115/-105)
Time 7 p.m. ET
TV ESPN+
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL odds here.

The Maple Leafs managed a 4-3 overtime victory over the Hurricanes on Feb. 7, in longtime net-minder Frederik Andersen’s first return to Toronto.

At the time, it seemed to be a statement victory for the Leafs. But they have since fallen into a disastrous run of play, while the Hurricanes have remained dominant with a 10-4-2 mark.

Can Carolina take advantage of the struggling Toronto? Let’s take a closer look.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto coming up short in the Heritage Classic was yet another very tough moment for Leafs fans, as Buffalo triumphed 5-2 in front of the 26,119-person crowd. Worse yet was that the contest left Auston Matthews sidelined for two games with a suspension, which he will finish serving on Thursday night.

Tuesday’s contest against Dallas momentarily put the goaltending and defensive concerns on pause, but it’s still clear that Toronto is holding legitimate problems in each of those aspects, specifically the goaltending.

Toronto has played to a 57.00 expected goals rate over its past seven games, but owns just a 3-3-1 mark, mainly due to the dreadful goaltending. And while that expected goals mark seems impressive, the Leafs have not played a club currently holding a playoff spot over that span.

Thursday night’s contest could be an especially tough night to hide any poor goaltending or defensive play, as it’s unlikely the Leafs simply score their way past those problems against the NHL’s top defensive club — especially with Matthews sidelined.

Erik Kallgren enters after Tuesday’s huge shutout and has been strong in two NHL appearances this season. However, Kallgren has still managed just a .904 save % in the AHL this season, so expecting the strong results to continue based on a tiny sample size is likely unwise.

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Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina has remained very consistent all season long, and enters this matchup in the midst of another strong run of play. The Hurricanes suffered a 4-2 defeat in Pittsburgh on Sunday morning, skating in their third contest in four nights, but the result certainly shouldn’t draw any concern — particularly after they managed a 2-0 shutout of the Avalanche two games prior.

The Hurricanes have been winners in four of their last five altogether, with a strong 59.29 expected goals for. They have also played to one of the greatest penalty kill marks in history with a strong powerplay unit, playing sweltering defense at 5-on-5 as well.

Another game-breaking talent up front could be a target at the trade deadline, but there really isn’t much to improve on a club that is without question a true cup contender this season.

The Hurricanes would surely love to get their guy Andersen a better result in his second return to Toronto — we can assume he will start this one. Andersen has been tremendous all season long for Carolina, with a +29.1 goals saved above expected mark and a .929 save % throughout 40 games played.

Hurricanes vs. Leafs Pick

It’s unlikely that the Leafs’ treacherous run of play will continue to this degree — they clearly put together some degree of a response to that as they skated right through Dallas en route to a 4-0 victory over the Stars on Tuesday.

That said, the Leafs are facing one of the league’s very best here. And even if they are trending upward, it’s easy to see the Hurricanes holding the Leafs in check offensively.

Kallgren momentarily paused the Leafs’ goaltending woes against the Stars, but is still a very unproven net-minder in the NHL, and it’s easy to imagine the Hurricanes managing a strong offensive output against him.

I see a lot of value in backing Carolina, and I would play the Hurricanes moneyline all the way to -130. The alternative puck-line (CAR -1.5) at +220 odds is looking pretty great as well, so I will definitely make a smaller play on that, too.

Picks: Hurricanes -105; Hurricanes -1.5 (+220)

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