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NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Maple Leafs vs. Sharks (October 27)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Maple Leafs vs. Sharks (October 27) article feature image
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Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Toronto Maple Leafs star Mitch Marner.

  • The Sharks host the Maple Leafs on Thursday night.
  • Toronto is clearly the better side, but sometimes plays down to its competition.
  • Ryan Dadoun previews the game and shares his best bet below.

Maple Leafs vs. Sharks Odds

Leafs Odds -250
Sharks Odds +195
Over/Under 6.5 (+100/-120)
Time 10:30 p.m. ET
TV NBCSCA
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

On paper, this is a huge mismatch and the moneyline certainly reflects that. However, the Maple Leafs have a reputation for playing down to their opponent.

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Maple Leafs

There’s no question Toronto is a good team. True, the Maple Leafs are missing defensemen Jordie Benn (groin), Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder), Timothy Liljegren (hernia) and, most notably, Jake Muzzin (neck), but the core of the Leafs’ blueline is still intact and arguably underrated. Yes, goaltender Matt Murray (adductor) is sidelined, but Ilya Samsonov has been a great starter for Toronto with his 4-1-0 record, 2.01 GAA and .932 save percentage in five games.

Even if Toronto’s defense and goaltender were subpar, they’d still win games on offensive talent alone. John Tavares, William Nylander, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner guarantee Toronto will have two of the best scoring lines in the league as long as they’re all healthy. Michael Bunting has also emerged as a major part of the Leafs’ offense. He provided 63 points last season and has added five points in seven contests this year. His presence further solidifies Toronto’s strong top-six.

And yet, through seven games, Toronto is 4-3-0. Not bad, but nothing special. Part of the issue has been Toronto dropping games it should have won. The Maple Leafs had a 4-3 loss to Montreal in the opener and suffered a 4-2 loss to Arizona on Oct. 17. The game against Arizona was particularly embarrassing as the Maple Leafs failed to show up for most of that contest, only staging a comeback in the second half of the third period, which was ultimately cut short by a controversial call on a disallowed goal.

That was a game that shouldn’t have come down to a late game call. On paper, Toronto was the vastly superior team, but the Leafs didn’t play like it. Similarly, the Leafs will easily be the better team Thursday night. Will they show up this time?


Sharks

Even if the Maple Leafs have some significant question marks in terms of their execution, there’s no question the Sharks would happily trade places with Toronto. San Jose got off to a miserable 2-7-0 start this season. It’s still early in the campaign, but the Sharks were seen as destined to miss the playoffs for a fourth straight year and nothing they’ve done thus far has given anyone reason for hope.

The big issue for the Sharks has been a complete lack of scoring. They’ve averaged just 1.89 goals per game, which is last in the league. To give those numbers some context, in the entirety of the salary cap era, only the 2013-14 and 2014-15 Buffalo Sabres ever finished with fewer than 1.89 goals per game.

If there’s a silver lining for the Sharks, it’s that Erik Karlsson is healthy and off to a solid start. His tenure with San Jose has been disappointing, but in 2022-23, he’s scored three goals and posted six points in nine games. However, he’s also the team’s offensive leader. Nico Sturm is next with four goals and no assists in nine games. Karlsson and Sturm account for 46.7% of the team’s total goals.

Let that sink in for a second. Two players have provided nearly half of San Jose’s goals and those two players aren’t even off to amazing starts. It’s not like it’s a situation where two superstar forwards have been dictating the team’s pace offensively.

Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier should get better as the season goes on, so the Sharks’ situation is expected to at least improve somewhat. For now though, they’re in a sad place.

Leafs vs. Sharks Pick

Everything points to the Maple Leafs winning. Even the spread of 1.5 goals doesn’t seem like enough to tip the scales toward the Sharks.

So, it really comes down to the intangibles. Do you think that, when presented with an “easy” win, Toronto will choke?

I say avoid that question entirely and take the over. Yes, San Jose’s offense has been terrible this season, but the Sharks do have some good forwards who are due to break out of their early seasons slumps.

However, the main reason why I like the over is because both teams are projected to start their backup goaltenders in Toronto’s Erik Kallgren and San Jose’s Kaapo Kahkonen. With that being the goalie matchup, I expect this to be a high-scoring contest.

Pick: Over 6.5 goals (+100, play to -120)

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