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Maple Leafs vs. Flames NHL Odds, Picks, Prediction: Analytics Darlings Have Value on Over/Under (Thursday, Feb. 10)

Maple Leafs vs. Flames NHL Odds, Picks, Prediction: Analytics Darlings Have Value on Over/Under (Thursday, Feb. 10) article feature image

Vaughn Ridley/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Auston Matthews.

  • Canadian contenders face off when the Maple Leafs visit the Flames.
  • Both teams thrive in attack but have question marks defensively. See where we're going?
  • Nicholas Martin breaks down the matchup and makes his betting pick below.

Maple Leafs vs. Flames Odds

Maple Leafs Odds -140
Flames Odds +120
Over/Under 6 (-115 / -105)
Time 9 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

Two of the league’s better clubs will get together Thursday for what should be an excellent contest, as the Flames play host to the Maple Leafs in the second leg of their back-to-back situation.

This season, these two club’s rank first and second in all-strengths expected goals rates. Who will win this battle between analytical darlings?

Toronto’s Stellar Attack Not the Problem

The Maple Leafs are doing all they can to avoid a dreadful first-round matchup out of the Atlantic Division. Although I feel like we have said this before in the regular season, this could be the best iteration of the Leafs rebuild, although concerns surrounding the defensive depth and goaltending are still valid.

Toronto will enter this one in the midst of a 7-1-0 stretch, which has seen it surge offensively, scoring five goals for per game.

The big four of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander have combined to play arguably their best season altogether so far. That is simply more than most clubs can handle up front, and it’s helped to drive Toronto’s top ranked power play unit to a 30.1% success rate and fourth-best offensive output.

Auston Matthews took a scary knee to the head Monday, but it seems most likely that he will play in this contest based on Wednesday’s reports.

Behind that unit have been some strong performances up front in support, and I think general manager Kyle Dubas can feel very good about his forward core.

The concern appears to be the back end. The club has produced a fourth-best xGA/60 rate over the last month, but it’s clear that another capable middle-four defender will be a need come the deadline for a club which has Cup-or-bust hopes.

The goaltending situation is getting a little murkier as well, as Jack Campbell has fallen into a tough spell of play, and sat Monday in favor of Petr Mrazek.

I have to believe the plan is still to look for Campbell to find his form and that giving Mrazek that big start in part was to do with him wanting to go vs. his former club. I think it’s more likely we see Campbell here.

Campbell has posted a +11.9 goals saved above expected rating with a .925 save percentage in 32 games this season, but that has dropped to .823 over his last five.

Calgary’s Top Line Fuels Successful Attack

Calgary’s dominant win over division-rival Vegas on Wednesday was a firm message in favor of the idea that this club is much closer to the group we saw to start the year than the one that fell into a midseason lull, surely aided by some extenuating circumstances.

Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm continue to be the main causation for the team’s strong play. The trio has arguably been the league’s best line. They managed another big night against Vegas and have been a huge force behind the Flames surprisingly high 10th-ranked offensive output this season.

Over Calgary’s last nine contests, it leads the league in expected goals for per 60 minutes at 3.76. The Flames have scored four goals per game and are doing a great job of playing with a ton of pace, getting all five attackers involved in the offensive zone.

With Jacob Markstrom going on Wednesday, we will likely see backup Dan Vladar between the pipes here. Vladar has been steady this season with a .911 save percentage.

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Maple Leafs-Flames Pick

My original thoughts on this game had me leaning toward Toronto, but another outright dominant performance from the Flames against Vegas has me thinking otherwise.

With both team’s looking lethal of late, a play on the over seems a natural and logical pivot.

Toronto has likely been playing slightly less strong defensively than its recent analytics suggest, and Campbell has been far from sharp in net.

With how sharp Calgary have looked up front, I imagine it will be able to post a solid total against a Toronto team who have 3.37 goals against over its last eight contests. The Leafs are still 7-1-0 during that span due to their ridiculous offensive output of five goals per game.

Calgary is no doubt a well-above-average club defensively, but we have seen Toronto produce against all competition of late, including an excellent defensive club in Carolina, which got a strong performance from Frederik Andersen in defeat.

The totals opened at 6 on DraftKings, but I suspect we will see the line move towards 6.5 by game time. I’d play the total of 6 (take that key number) all the way down to -160.

Pick:  Over 6 (-120, play to -160)

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