What’s old is new again. The Toronto Maple Leafs return to the ice on Tuesday with an aura of excitement, having defeated the Lightning in Tampa following an overtime winner from John Tavares. Yes, it might not be Game Six of the first round like last year, but it’s a bit of momentum to channel into tonight’s game against the Washington Capitals, whose early season struggles continue into today.
Bet on Maple Leafs vs. Capitals
If this game gets a little lost in the noise today, we don’t blame you – the NHL is debuting its “Frozen Frenzy” concept today, having all 32 teams face off amongst each other in a single night. The attempt to spread them out is also why you’ll find a slightly odd 6:00 p.m. ET start time tonight. The Maple Leafs are the clear favourites despite continuing their road trip – let’s dive in.
Maple Leafs vs. Capitals odds
|Maple Leafs Moneyline Odds||-175|
|Capitals Moneyline Odds||+155|
|Puckline odds||Maple Leafs -1.5 (+150), Capitals +1.5 (-170)|
|Total||6.5 goals (over -120, under +100)|
|Time/Date||Oct. 24, 6:00 p.m. ET|
About the Maple Leafs (3-2 SU, 1-3-1 ATS, 2-1-2 o/u)
Saturday was much kinder to the Maple Leafs than Thursday, though it didn’t seem guaranteed to be the case at first. While William Nylander was able to open the scoring for Toronto in the opening minutes of the first, Nikita Kucherov led the way to get the Lightning equalized, ahead, and then some, scoring two power-play tallies and adding an assist to Alex Barre-Boulet in between to give Tampa Bay a 3-1 lead in the first period. The three goals were enough to end Ilya Samsonov’s night and put Joseph Woll in net, a move that ended up paying off.
The rookie ended up making 29 saves the rest of the way, and while it took some time for the skaters to claw back, it eventually came courtesy of the third line. Two rush opportunities initiated by Max Domi turned into Matthew Knies’ first and second official goals of his NHL career, tying the game with five-and-a-half minutes remaining. Toronto dominated in overtime, eventually getting the win after a Nylander pass made a triple deflection off Brandon Hagel, Kucherov, and finally, Tavares, a familiar overtime hero.
Tonight, the Leafs look to carry that momentum to DC, and have a good opportunity to do so with a day’s rest and a struggling opponent on the other side.
About the Capitals (1-2-1 SU, 1-3 ATS, 1-3 o/u)
Former Leafs assistant coach Spencer Carbery is now behind the bench as the main boss in Washington, and things haven’t gone great for him so far. In fairness, they weren’t going too great before him either, so the fingers aren’t quite being pointed in his direction, but the 1-2-1 start is still far from the one that Caps fans wanted to start the year.
This is especially so since the unofficial primary directive is also sputtering out of the gate. After all, the home fans are willing to take a tough year or two if it means getting their captain, Russian forward Alex Ovechkin, closer to the all-time goals record. Unfortunately for them, his end-of-season slump has carried over, and he has no goals on nine shots through four games. Goals are pretty few and far between in general for Washington, with just five shots finding the back of the net through four games. Not counting the shootout, they’ve yet to put up more than two in a game this season. Is this a welcome reprieve for Toronto’s defence and goaltending as they look to figure their early season struggles out, or the trap of all traps?
We’ll find out in a few hours.
Toronto’s last game against Washington was a bit of a rout, though quite a few of the goals came from players no longer with the team. Nicklas Backstrom initially put the Caps up with a power-play tally late in the first period, but Michael Bunting (now with Carolina), equalized early in the second. From there, Morgan Rielly and Nylander put the Leafs ahead and earned some insurance, and Pierre Engvall (now NYI), and Zach Aston-Reese (now DET) capped the effort off.
This January matchup was long enough ago that Rasmus Sandin, now on Washington, had a point for Toronto, notching the second assist on the Nylander goal. Samsonov, who will be backing up tonight, stopped 23 of 24 for Toronto.
|Toronto Maple Leafs||Washington Capitals|
Calle Jarnkrok – Auston Matthews – Mitch Marner
Tyler Bertuzzi – John Tavares – William Nylander
Matthew Knies – David Kampf – Max Domi
Noah Gregor – Pontus Holmberg – Ryan Reaves
Morgan Rielly – TJ Brodie
Jake McCabe – John Klingberg
Mark Giordano – Timothy Liljegren
Starting In Goal
1-1-0, 0.949 SV%, 1.68 GAA
Alex Ovechkin – Dylan Strome – Matthew Phillips
Connor McMichael – Evgeny Kuznetsov – T.J. Oshie
Sonny Milano – Nicklas Backstrom – Tom Wilson
Beck Malenstyn – Aliaksei Protas – Anthony Mantha
Martin Fehervary – John Carlson
Rasmus Sandin – Trevor Van Riemsdyk
Alexander Alexeyev – Nick Jensen
Starting In Goal
1-1-1, 0.887 SV%, 3.55 GAA
After a big payoff in reshuffling the third line, the Leafs make another slight tinker going into tonight. Calle Jarnkrok and Tyler Bertuzzi swap positions in the top six – hard to argue as a definitive promotion or demotion, but definitely a different look nonetheless. The hope, presumably, is that Jarnkrok provides a bit more two-way help to the Matthews/Marner line, while Bertuzzi may get a kick in the pants by playing with a more net-front-driven duo in Tavares and Nylander.
On Washington’s end, the forward group remains pretty interesting. Every line is full of familiar names, and they’re all pretty spread out. Their blue line is a little bit shallow, with John Carlson sticking out as the big name while most of the others are in the “good against other okay guys, unproven against top competition” tier. Hey, it’s Rasmus Sandin! I hope he’s having fun there.
Alex Ovechkin and Auston Matthews to each score a goal (Parlay)
There is no new news on the injury front for the Leafs – particularly, it doesn’t sound like there’s much day-to-day concern around Bertuzzi anymore and there’s no need to be on alert for his playing status.
On Washington’s end, Max Pacioretty is still yet to start his season as he recovers from an Achilles injury. Joel Edmundson starts the year on LTIR as he recovers from hand surgery, likely to miss a few more weeks before his season starts. Nic Dowd is out after an upper-body injury suffered last week, and Charlie Lindgren has an undisclosed injury suffered at a recent morning skate.
- Toronto is 6-4 in its last 10 games against the Caps, matching that number against the puckline and landing the over on total goals six times, falling under twice, and tying it twice. This includes a 4-1 straight-up record against Washington in their last five games against them.
- The Capitals’ struggles go beyond this season, with a 2-8 straight-up record in their last 10 games, a 3-7 record on the puckline, but a 6-4 record above the goals line. At least they’re delivering some high-event hockey!
- To that point, according to Scores and Odds, approximately two-thirds of bets being placed on the total tonight are being placed on the over.
Player prop trends
- There will always be eyes on Ovechkin when he faces a high-profile team like the Maple Leafs, and right now, those eyes will see that he’s struggling to put the puck in the net, dating back to last year. Ovie is goalless in his last nine games, including his first back-to-back run of no shots on goal earlier this month. He did score six in six just before this slump, though, so I wouldn’t bet on the wall being permanent – just one to look out for now.
- On the other side, Matthews looks to snap a three-game stretch without a goal. Hilariously, his first two games still leave him above a goal per game, and he’s taken 17 shots across those three games, so I’m not too worried about it.
- Tavares has points in every game this year and is off to one of the hottest starts of his career.
Wagers to consider
- Is tonight the night the two sniper slumps end? Matthews and Ovechkin have the two shortest odds to score an anytime goal tonight at -200 and +110 respectively, and can be combined together for a cool +240. Hilariously, a Matthews hat trick (+900) is not much longer than a single goal from Ryan Reaves (+700).
- If you think Domi’s two assists to Knies are the start of a hot streak, you can grab him over 0.5 points at +120 tonight.
- Bet365 is offering a lot of Boosted Same Game Parlays tonight, so go through the list and find one that suits you. My personal favourite leans into the blue liners, and looks for a Leafs win, a pair of shots from John Klingberg, and an assist from Rielly for a combined return of +450, up from the standard +375.