NHL Odds, Preview, Expert Prediction: Predators vs. Maple Leafs (January 11)
Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Nashville Predators goalie Juuse Saros
- The Predators head to Toronto for Wednesday night's meeting with the Maple Leafs.
- The Predators have started the 2023 campaign strong, thanks in large part to goaltender Juuse Saros.
- That's one reason Jonny Lazarus is targeting the total, as he details below.
Predators vs. Maple Leafs Odds
|Maple Leafs Odds||-200|
|Over/Under||6.5 (+100 / -122)|
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
The Nashville Predators are heating up and undefeated in 2023, winning all four of the games they’ve played in the new year.
Most of the Preds’ success is thanks to their goaltender, Juuse Saros, who has been absolutely lights-out of late and is coming off of a 38-save shutout in his most recent performance.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, meanwhile, have started a little winning streak of their own and enter this game winning their last two games and hoping to make it three.
Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov have been splitting the net lately. It is uncertain as of now who will start in this game, but whichever one gets the nod better bring their best because Saros certainly will for Nashville.
Saros Carrying Nashville Predators
The Predators didn’t have the first half of the season that they would have liked, but now they are slowly climbing back into the playoff picture. They are just one point back of the Edmonton Oilers and St. Louis Blues for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Saros has now won four straight starts, and he has been putting this team on his back. In those four games, he has made 152 saves on 159 shots. He enters this game with a .921 save percentage and a 2.67 goals against average along with a league’s second-best +20.0 goals saved above expected.
The Predators aren’t necessarily the best offensive team in the league. Sure, they have scored 17 goals over the span of their winning streak, but this team is currently the 26th-best offense, averaging only 2.79 goals per game.
Additionally, their power play hasn’t really helped them much, converting at only 17.3%, and they haven’t scored a goal on the man advantage in their previous two games.
Nashville has been winning games because of its goaltending. Don’t let the Preds fool you.
Toronto Maple Leafs Play D at Home
The Toronto Maple Leafs have played some very strong hockey as of late, minus a hiccup here or there. They have been a very consistent team this season, especially on home ice, where they are a very impressive 14-3-4 at Scotiabank Arena.
The Leafs have been excellent defensively on home ice, giving up only 2.43 goals against when they are in front of their fans. And believe it or not, they are actually the third-best defensive team in the entire NHL right now.
They haven’t confirmed a starter for this game yet, but Murray and Samsonov have essentially been a 1A and 1B tandem this season. Murray is 10-4-2 with a .916 save percentage and a 2.57 goals against average, while Samsonov is 12-3-1 with a .916 save percentage with a 2.29 goals against average.
The Leafs have given up only three goals against in their last two games. They have really tightened things up defensively after allowing five goals against the Seattle Kraken on Jan. 5. I expect the defensive efficiency to continue, and I think they will make it very difficult for the Predators to score goals.
Predators vs. Maple Leafs Pick
No matter who gets the start for the Leafs in net, this is going to be a very strong goaltending battle with Saros on the other side.
The under has hit in four of the last five meetings between these two teams in Toronto, and based on how both of them have been playing lately, I think it will be a tightly played game. Saros needs to continue to play the way he is in order to move his team up the standings, and he will be tested tonight against Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and John Tavares.
I think the Leafs will dominate for most of this game, but I see both goalies standing tall and keeping it low-scoring. I like the under.
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