Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens Odds, Predictions & Preview For Saturday’s Game 6

Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens Odds, Predictions & Preview For Saturday’s Game 6 article feature image
Credit:

Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images. Pictured: Carey Price.

  • The series returns to Montreal as the Canadiens host the Maple Leafs in Game 6 with Toronto leading the series 3-2.
  • Saturday's game will be the first NHL game held in front of fans this year, as a crowd of 2,500 is expected to attend.
  • With both teams nervous about elimination of Game 7, Nicholas Martin thinks goals may be hard to come by.

Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens Odds

Maple Leafs Odds -186
Canadiens Odds +160
Over/Under 5.5
Time Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET
TV NBCSN
Odds as of Friday and via DraftKings

The Maple Leafs will head into the Bell Centre looking desperately to avoid another Game 7 which would surely come with a ton of bad memories and  bring about a tremendous amount of pressure and nerves for the group.

Toronto needs a more complete effort than we saw in Game 5 Thursday night, a game that felt like a bit of an odd affair for an elimination game.

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Canadiens Dug Out of a Hole In Game 5

No discredit to the Canadiens however, who found a way to extend the series on the road as huge underdogs sitting in a 3-1 hole, a spot where we may have seen a lot of groups simply fold. In doing so Montreal also earned the chance to finally host some fans, with 2,500 set to be in attendance for this contest, a first for any Canadian team this season and a very welcome sight.

Montreal managed to put together a 3-0 lead early in the second period behind two Joel Armia goals and a Jesperi Kotkaniemi tally. Two of the markers came as goals that Toronto netminder Jack Campbell would clearly like to have back, coming on two very awkwardly handled plays.

The Leafs made a strong push, however, tying the game at three midway through the third, after a Jake Muzzin redirection slipped through Carey Price’s five-hole. The comeback was stopped short, with Nick Suzuki scoring less than a minute into the extra session after a very sloppy play in the offensive zone from the Maple Leafs at the other end.

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Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.

Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.

xG numbers and advanced stats cited from Evolving Hockey, MoneyPuck and Natural Stat Trick.

 


What We’ve Learned So Far

Whether or not this series has been as exciting as some may have hoped, we are now set up for a very intriguing Game 6 which should see a reenergized Montreal bunch and a Toronto group desperate to avoid a Game 7.

The Canadiens probably feel almost like they are playing with house money at this point, with all of the pressure on Toronto to finally finish off a first-round opponent in a series that appeared all but over after Toronto claimed a very comfortable Game 4 win in Montreal.

So far in this series we have seen a lot of what one might expect, with Toronto controlling the play to an xGF% of 58.82 and owning 10 more High Danger chances than Montreal altogether, yet the Habs are hanging around with Carey Price at times looking brilliant.

The Habs have spectacular depth, but so far we have not seen enough forwards elevate their play to the level it’s going to take to knock off the overwhelming favourite Leafs, given their lack of truly elite talent upfront. Nick Suzuki has an elite talent level, as we saw in an excellent performance in last season’s bubble playoffs, and it will be interesting to see if Thursday’s overtime winner comes with a boost to his overall play.

Price has allowed a few somewhat questionable tallies in the series, but altogether I have liked his aggressiveness and felt he has done a good job of getting out and making himself big on a number of high slot chances.

Betting Analysis & Pick

There are a few sound arguments as to why we are likely to see a low-scoring affair in this crucial Game 6. So far in this series we have seen a combined average of 4.6 goals, with the under going 3-2 in the five contests. Historically as series go deeper we usually see more tightly-contested affairs, with goal totals averaging lower in Games 6 and 7 as penalty totals drop.

This sets up well to continue here, as I see a desperate Toronto team coming out and controlling more of the play here, but I believe Montreal will bring a well-structured defensive effort with a big focus on keeping bodies back and not allowing Toronto to play inside their box, keeping shots to the quality that Carey Price can handle.

As I have stated, I actually liked Price’s play overall in Game 5 and in the series, and the redirection and point-shot goals from Jake Muzzin are not likely to be consistently replicated. It would not be at all surprising to me to see a special performance from Price tomorrow night.

Jack Campbell should be able to clean up those soft goals he gave up last game, and I think that we will see a quality effort defensively from a Toronto group desperate to avoid a Game 7. This should limit the chances mainly to ones Campbell should be expected to save, and over the entirety of this season Campbell has shown that he is quite reliable in making the saves he is supposed to.

We saw the perfect game script for a more high-scoring affair in Game 5, with Montreal sneaking in some ugly goals to force Toronto to chase aggressively from a big 3-0 hole. It’s likely we see a sharply played game altogether here, and I see some value with the under 5.5 at -116 and would play it to -128.

Pick: Under 5.5 -116 | Play up -128

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