NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Back Toronto to Build on Early Success (Oct. 23)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Back Toronto to Build on Early Success (Oct. 23) article feature image
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Credit: Kevin Sousa, Getty. Maple Leafs players before a faceoff against the New York Rangers.

Maple Leafs vs. Penguins Odds

Maple Leafs Odds -130
Penguins Odds +110
Over/Under 6 (-110/-110)
Time Saturday, 7 p.m. ET
TV ESPN+
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The Leafs will travel to Pittsburgh to take on a heavily depleted Penguins team on Saturday night.

The Pens have done very well to run up a 2-0-2 record in the early going this season considering their injury situation, but will they be able to continue the point streak tomorrow night against Auston Matthews and the Leafs? I don’t believe so.

Pittsburgh Penguins

What Mike Sullivan’s Penguins squad has done in the early going of the year has been highly impressive. Hanging in to claim 6-of-8 points with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin yet to play exceeds any reasonable expectation people may have had for the Penguins.

The Pens have controlled play to an xGF% of 57.26 and have done very well to limit high danger chances in front Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith allowing just 2.43 xGA/60.

Jeff Carter has been a big piece of the Pens early success skating as the team’s number one center. Carter has been turning back the clock with some excellent two-way play as well as contributing a point per game.

News broke Friday that Carter had officially been ruled out of Saturday’s contest due to being in COVID-19 protocol, leaving the Penguins incredibly thin down the middle, as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will still be out for the contest as well as Bryan Rust.

In the early going we have seen a number of players step up for this undermanned Penguins squad, but now the team may face its toughest test yet. Trying to keep up offensively with a Toronto club offering some truly elite offensive talents will be a massive task.

Pittsburgh will likely start Jarry for the contest. He holds a .935 save % and has stopped 4.6 goals saved above expected for the Penguins, who have been excellent in front of him across his starts.

Toronto Maple Leafs

As many believe, I do not feel the Leafs can change anyone’s opinion with regards to their composition until the spring.

The Eastern Conference does appear to be incredibly deep, so a playoff spot is far from a guarantee for the Leafs . Toronto will be best served to clean up as many points as possible in very winnable situations, and skating close to their full roster tomorrow night against a Pens team playing without so many key pieces is a very favorable situation.

Toronto put together a good effort Monday versus the Rangers and have been solid in the early going with a 2-1-1 record and 57.1 xGF%, skating three of those contests without Auston Matthews.

Jack Campbell will play Saturday after resting Friday in favor of backup Michael Hutchinson. Campbell has started strong after an excellent season last year, posting a .953 save % as well as stopping 4.0 goals saved above expected.

Toronto vs. Pittsburgh Pick

With Carter, Crosby and Malkin officially ruled out for the contest, the Penguins will be taking on a very talented Toronto club short their top three centers as well as another top forward in Rust.

The Pens are skating a really solid defensive core and have played a very sharp team game in the early going, but I believe that without those bodies up front it’s going be hard keep pace with Toronto, even with the Leafs on skating in a back-to-back situation.

Evan Rodrigues and Teddy Blueger took practice as the Penguins top two centers yesterday, and with all due respect to the pair who have both stepped up in the early going, it’s certainly a mismatch against the Leafs top two centers in Matthews and Tavares.

The Leafs are resting Jack Campbell against San Jose on Friday, and will therefore have their top goaltender ready to go in this one.

At -130 I see value with backing a Toronto roster that has proven to be amongst the league’s elite in recent years (regular season at least) to beat a heavily depleted Pittsburgh team.

This line is already up on DraftKings and a few other shops, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the line move even further.

Pick: Toronto Maple Leafs -130 DraftKings (Play to -145)

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