NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Hurricanes vs. Maple Leafs (Monday, Feb. 7)
Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Nino Niederreiter (Hurricanes)
Hurricanes vs. Maple Leafs Odds
|Maple Leafs Odds||-135|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
Carolina will head to Toronto looking to cool off the red-hot Maple Leafs on Monday. This is a contest the Hurricanes would certainly love to take for goaltender Frederik Andersen, who is making his return to Toronto.
Andersen has been tremendous this season behind a very sharp Carolina team. However, he will face a much tougher task than normal against the Leafs, who have averaged 5.14 goals per game over their last seven contests.
Can Andersen stifle his former mates in his return to Toronto?
Hurricanes Having Great Stretch
Carolina has followed up an impressive division title last year with an excellent start to this campaign. The Hurricanes have posted the league's second-best points % with some strong analytical results to go alongside their dominant 31-9-2 record.
They will enter this one in the midst of a superb stretch of play, having won seven of their last eight contests. The Hurricanes own the league's second-best expected goals rate of 57.99% over that span, which has included notably impressive performances in the contests against tougher competition.
Those results include a massive 6-3 win over the Rangers in a clash for first in the Metro, and a 7-1 thumping in Boston.
The Hurricanes' very deep and well-rounded roster has produced strong play at 5-on-5, with a spectacular combined special teams rate of 114% (PK success rate + PP success rate). The club has also seen strong goaltending from both Andersen and Antti Raanta this season.
The strength of the back end could arguably be the most under credited area. Tony DeAngelo is succeeding and the Hurricanes have seen highly underrated play from Brett Pesce and Jaccob Slavin.
The top pairing of Slavin and DeAngelo have dominated at even strength this season, producing a 59.7 xGF% in 295.2 minutes together. They are supported by a notably strong second unit of Brady Skjei and Pesce, who have produced a 54.8 xGF% over a large sample size of 442.7 minutes together.
That strong play in front of goal has helped Andersen thrive in his first season with the Canes. He's posting a +22.4 goals saved above expected rating, with a .929 save % throughout 30 games played this season.
Andersen should draw the start here.
Leafs Starting Mrazek vs. His Ex-Club
Toronto will look to build on a strong run of play prior to the All-Star break. The Leafs won five consecutive contests — by an average margin of 2.8 — by scoring a wealth of goals.
If I were to nitpick, I'd point out that they did dominate some notably lesser competition. The only team with reasonable playoff aspirations that the Leafs played during that stretch is Anaheim.
The goaltending situation is certainly concerning for a team with such lofty aspirations, as Jack Campbell has fallen into a dreadful run of play. He's a problem more likely to be exposed against better competition — as the Rangers managed to do in Toronto's last defeat.
Petr Mrazek has been confirmed to start this one against his former club. Although I do feel he holds more potential than we have seen so far this season in a small sample size, he has to be viewed as a lesser option compared to what other notable cup contenders are holding.
Mrazek holds a -1.8 goals saved above expected rating with a .902 save % through just seven games played so far this season.
Hurricanes-Maple Leafs Pick
To me, there seems to be one clear side holding value in this contest, given the current line. It's the Hurricanes, who enter as an underdog despite posting some of the league's most well-balanced play in all areas of the game.
Toronto has no doubt been in excellent form itself, but that play has come against some lesser competition, and I do feel its defensive play is slightly below Carolina's, recent analytics aside.
If Carolina's No. 1 ranked penalty kill unit can keep Toronto's lethal powerplay unit mainly in check, the Hurricanes should have a strong chance at success.
I feel that I probably respect Mrazek's play and potential more than most this season. I pointed out prior to his start vs. Arizona last month that his numbers were due for an uptick. However, it's still hard to not think Carolina holds a notable goaltending edge by skating Andersen vs. Mrazek.
Altogether, it seems to me this is nearly a pick-em in what figures to be a very well-contested affair between two very strong clubs. Getting Carolina as a +115 underdog holds value.
Pick: Carolina Hurricanes moneyline +115 (Play down to +100)