NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Maple Leafs vs. Predators

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Maple Leafs vs. Predators article feature image

Ethan Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Auston Matthews.

  • The Maple Leafs are heavy favorites against the Predators on Sunday, but our expert has found betting value regardless.
  • Nicholas Martin dug into the player prop market and has found an edge on an Auston Matthews prop.
  • Continue reading for Martin's analysis and best bet.

Leafs vs. Predators Odds

Leafs Odds-194
Predators Odds+160
Over/Under6.5 (-102 / -120)
Time6 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

Despite a plethora of aggressive moves at the trade deadline, the Maple Leafs have played to a modest 5-4-1 record over their past 10 games without looking like a true cup contender in that span.

Toronto is still priced as a heavy favorite to beat the Predators on Sunday, with Nashville in a near do-or-die spot for its playoff aspirations.

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Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto has been unsteady since the trade deadline, and its regularly stout defensive play has been a large part of the concern during that time. Coach Sheldon Keefe is attempting to figure out the ideal way to work in nine different NHL defenders and it does seem that the consistent changes on the back end has caused a lack of rhythm with the team.

Toronto put together excellent performances in Florida and Carolina to start this road trip, though, which both could be taken as firm comments that things are coming back around.

Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews have been reunited at even strength alongside Calle Jarnkrok, and it seems like the trio is starting to settle into dominant form. In tough matchups against Carolina and Florida that unit has outshot the opposition 32-16 and played to a 69.3 expected goals for percentage (xGF%).

Matthews in particular is starting to look more like the player who won last year's Hart and Ted Lindsay Trophies, having now scored 10 goals over his last 13 games with an average of 5.53 shots on goal.

Joseph Woll will likely start in goal for Toronto in this matchup in the back-to-back spot and Ilya Samsonov away from the team. He has played to a +2.2 goals saved above expected (GSAx) and .938 save percentage in three appearances this season.

Nashville Predators

With Roman Josi, Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, Alex Carrier and several others missing from a roster which was already a seller at the deadline, the Predators recent push has been quite a surprise.

On paper the current roster is very thin, and the Preds should certainly be commended for hanging around in the playoff race with that in mind. Nashville's 7-2 loss at the hands of the Kraken on Saturday in a critical matchup was a fairly firm comment about what this roster currently is.

We often see players able to step into heightened roles for short periods of time, but as samples grow larger those players become exposed in matchups against the league's elites.

Nashville has played to an expected goals share of just 42.4% over its last seven games, which have come against a notably weak slate of competition.

Nashville's current top pairing of Ryan McDonagh and Dante Fabbro has played to a 3.26 expected goals against per 60 minutes in 88.3 minutes together, and their struggles illustrate how crucial Josi and Carrier's losses on the back end are.

The second pairing of Josh Gross and Tyson Barrie has been an even larger concern, and has played to an xG share of just 32.7% in a sample of 42 minutes together.

Goaltender Kevin Lankinen does offer one clear edge for the Predators in this matchup. He has played to a +6.2 GSAx and .915 save percentage in 16 appearances.

Leafs vs. Predators Pick

Nashville's depleted roster should have a hard time controlling play against one of the league's better sides. We should see the Leafs able to generate a wealth of shot attempts, in particular the Leafs top unit of Marner, Matthews and Jarnkrok.

Matthews is looking like the player we saw last season, and my expectation is that he follows up his dominant performance in Carolina with a good showing today against a much worse defensive side.

Toronto likely will not lean on any of its stars to play massive minutes in this fairly meaningless back-to-back showdown, but anything around 18 minutes should be enough for Matthews especially considering he will almost certainly get his standard power-play usage.

Backing Matthews at +115 to record over 4.5 shots is a strong play, and I would bet Matthews over 4.5 down to -105. BetRivers has the best number for this bet at +115, while BetMGM and DraftKings are +100.

Pick: Auston Matthews Over 4.5 Shots on Goal +115,

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