Dan Hamilton, USA Today Sports. Pictured: William Nylander
Betting odds: Minnesota Wild at Toronto Maple Leafs
- Wild moneyline: +155
- Maple Leafs: -190
- Over/Under: 6
- Puck drop: 2 p.m. ET
- Channel: NHL.com
NHL record: 30-31, +9.77 units
A few weeks back I wrote about how the NHL should take advantage of legalized betting by scheduling more day games, you know baseball-style. Well, for some reason the Maple Leafs are hosting the Wild at 2 p.m. on Thursday.
As far as random matinees go, this one is pretty good. The Wild, even though they’ve been scuffling the past few weeks, are one of the premier defensive teams in the NHL. In terms of their peripheral numbers, Minnesota has been strong and their defensive metrics sparkle.
The Wild allow the fewest expected goals against and high-danger chances per 60 minutes at 5v5 and are just about average in creating opportunities. That should be enough for a team that is this good defensively, but poor shooting and subpar goaltending has doomed the Wild to a mediocre record through 38 games.
The Maple Leafs are not like the Wild. Toronto’s strength is its dynamic offense and stellar goaltender. The Buds average 2.71 xGF/60, which is fourth in the NHL, but allow 2.56 xGA/60, good enough for 21st in the NHL. The Leafs are lucky to have a great goalie in Frederik Andersen, but the Dane won’t be available for Thursday’s tilt.
Neither will No. 2 goaltender Garret Sparks, who is in concussion protocol after getting hit in the mask with a puck during practice. The Leafs will likely turn to journeyman Michael Hutchinson in goal. Hutchinson, who was just acquired from the Panthers a couple days ago, has been subpar for a few seasons now and has shown to be nothing more than a No. 3 goalie in his career.