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Maple Leafs vs. Blues Odds, Preview, Prediction: Toronto Has Value to Bounce Back (Jan. 15)

Maple Leafs vs. Blues Odds, Preview, Prediction: Toronto Has Value to Bounce Back (Jan. 15) article feature image
Credit:

Claus Andersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Auston Matthews.

  • St. Louis hopes to win its sixth straight home game as it welcomes Toronto to town.
  • But even with recent home success, are the Blues overvalued?
  • Nicholas Martin breaks down the game and gives his top pick, below.

Maple Leafs vs. Blues Odds

Maple Leafs Odds -140
Blues Odds +120
Over/Under 6
Time 7 p.m. ET
TV NHL Network
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

Toronto will head into St. Louis looking for a positive response after a shocking 2-1 loss in Arizona last time out, while the Blues will look to build on a 3-0 homestand, during which they have allowed just three goals so far.

To my eye, the Blues’ play throughout these three games has been far less impressive than their record suggests. Could this be a good spot for the Leafs to come in and give the Blues the losing result they have probably deserved their last two times out?

Don’t Overreact To Shocking Leafs Loss

For a Toronto team who have been quite dominant outside of the first two weeks of the season, it certainly is a testament to its history and opposing fans’ dislike for the team that every bad loss has to be the end of the world.

Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to Arizona has been received no differently, with a larger-than-necessary reaction to what was mainly just a tough luck loss, with the expected goals from the contest going as 3.88-1.87 in the Leafs’ favor and looking arguably worse than that to the eye.

Surely that’s not entirely an excuse to cover a loss to the Coyotes, but that’s the nature of this sport at times. You can only control so much toward a result, something we seem to forget before the beginning of the playoffs each spring.

Over the last month, the Leafs have produced a 57.07 expected goals for percentage (xGF%), which is in line with their mark over a sample of the whole season, with a 4-1-1 record.

Auston Matthews and William Nylander continue to show as two of the league’s very best, and their form of late has been simply dominant. Behind them the Leafs are getting meaningful contributions from some of general manager Kyle Dubas’ low-risk, high-upside signings in Michael Bunting and Ondrej Kase, as well as contributions from Ilya Mikheyev, giving the Leafs a deep offensive core again this season.

The play of several key defenders such as Jake Muzzin and Justin Holl has been concerning at times, and could be an area of need looking towards this team’s championship aspirations this spring.

The Leafs added Justin Holl, Ondrej Kase, and Brett Ritchie to the COVID protocol list Friday. Should they stay there, that’s a very manageable set of losses, especially factoring in my belief that Rasmus Sandin would serve the team better playing bigger minutes on the back end than Holl to begin with.

Mitch Marner’s status for the contest is up in the air, as tomorrow would mark eight days since his addition to the COVID list. His return would obviously be a notable boost to the roster.

Jack Campbell should most likely draw the start here between the pipes, having rested Wednesday in Arizona. He has been stellar yet again this season with a +18.0 goals saved above expected rating with a .935 save percentage throughout 27 games played.

Blues Don’t Match Up Well With Toronto

The Blues’ play has never shown overly well analytically this season, and they do certainly have some areas of strength that can help curve the data.

Some notably deadly playmakers and finishers, as well as the top-ranked slot passes completed, makes it no surprise that they are outscoring what the expected goals numbers suggest by +11.93.

With that said, St. Louis has clearly been relatively lucky to squeak out 2-1 victories over Dallas and Seattle to start the week, probably mostly in the fact the puck hasn’t ended up in its net as often as expected in either contest, as well as a notably controversial finish to steal the game against Dallas.

The Blues have a 47.11 xGF% over their last six contests, and a 2.51 xGA/60 almost seems generous to the play seen at times.

With Pavel Buchnevich, David Perron, Brayden Schenn, Colton Parayko and Vlad Tarasenko, all of whom could return for this game, in COVID protocol, it could be notably tough for St. Louis to hang a big total here against a Leafs team that has done well at suppressing quality opposition looks this season.

Jordan Binnington will likely start having rested Thursday. He has been solid with a -0.2 goals saved above expected rating and .910 save percentage this season.

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Maple Leafs vs. Blues Pick

From a handicapping perspective, I actually really like this matchup for Toronto regardless of roster losses. I felt that the Leafs would have a good opportunity to expose a St. Louis team that would come in overvalued after two lucky and unimpressive 2-1 wins over the Kraken and Stars.

I feel that St. Louis is not well-equipped to handle Toronto’s deadly top-end talents. In my mind, this was always going to be a great spot to back the Leafs at close to pick’em.

For me, the value is still with the Leafs, but these should be “easy win” spots that seem to continue to be a situation Toronto does not thrive in.

Even still, it’s hard for me to see the Leafs not breaking through with a good offensive total here, and with the Blues short three or four top forwards (Tarasenko could return), as well as Parayko, that could be a problem for St. Louis.

I see value with backing the Leafs at +130 to win this game inside of regulation, and I would play that line down to +110.

Pick: Maple Leafs — Regulation Win +130 (play to +110)

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