The march across California continues for the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, as they hope to follow up a win against the Los Angeles Kings with another against the Anaheim Ducks. If there’s one thing we know about this team, though, it’s that it’s somehow more difficult for them to take on the Davids than it is the Goliaths. Can they snap that trend tonight? Let’s look at what’s at stake in Wednesday’s National Hockey League action.
Bet on Maple Leafs vs. Ducks
The Maple Leafs are early road favourites at a healthy -190 at bet365 on the moneyline.
Maple Leafs vs. Ducks odds
|Maple Leafs Moneyline Odds
|Ducks Moneyline Odds
|Maple Leafs -1.5 (+129), Ducks +1.5 (-140)
|6.5 goals (over -130, under +110)
|Jan. 3, 9:00 p.m. ET
(How to watch the NHL in Canada?)
About the Maple Leafs (18-10-7 SU, 11-24 ATS, 19-15-1 o/u)
The Maple Leafs were rare underdogs in Tuesday night’s game against Los Angeles and, like they have a habit of inexplicably doing in the regular season, they rose to the occasion. Getting revenge for a home embarrassment back on Halloween, the buds flipped the script and delivered a 3-0 shutout to the Kings on their home ice. Toronto poured on the offence early, heavily outshooting Los Angeles for much of the game, but took until the second period to break through. After William Nylander was caught on camera telling Tyler Bertuzzi to shoot the puck more, Bertuzzi disregarded all orders and went into playmaker mode, first setting up Nylander for the icebreaker before finding Calle Jarnkrok three minutes later for some insurance.
The Kings did their best to pour it on and respond in the late second and third, even having a goal disallowed for crossing the line after the whistle that would’ve given me a perfect “Wagers to Consider” last night (sorry, Quinton Byfield). But Martin Jones was excellent against his former team, stopping all 31 shots and securing Toronto’s win.
About the Ducks (13-23-0 SU, 20-16 ATS, 16-18 o/u)
For a brief moment this year, the Anaheim Ducks started to look like the group we had hoped they would be in 2022/23, a team of young up-and-comers who could make some noise on their way up the ranks. From October 24th to November 14th the team had posted a 7-2 record, and the vibes were hot. The Ducks were here, and it was their time to shine. They then proceeded to lose 12 of their next 13 in regulation, with their only win coming in a shootout. So, maybe they were who we thought they weren’t after all.
Things have been slightly better of late, with a couple of recent wins against the likes of New Jersey, Detroit, and Vegas, but the Ducks still find themselves sitting in third-last by points percentage. Their 92 goals are ahead of only Chicago, Washington, and San Jose, and while their 122 goals against aren’t quite as bad proportionately, they’re still seated in the bottom 10 of the league in that regard. Interestingly, seven of their 13 wins have come against Eastern Conference opponents, which could be a bad omen for the Maple Leafs. The Ducks have not played since New Year’s Eve, when Edmonton blew them out 7-2 on home ice.
It’s been a while since these two teams faced off, getting their season series out of the way early in 2022/23. The last matchup was a rout in Toronto’s favour, as the Leafs took the lead just one minute and 58 seconds into the first period and never looked back in a 7-0 blowout. Ilya Samsonov made 28 saves in a shutout performance. The Ducks took the home game in this season series a few weeks before, cutting down Toronto’s 3-1 lead before winning 4-3 in overtime.
|Toronto Maple Leafs
Matthew Knies – Auston Matthews – Mitch Marner
Tyler Bertuzzi – John Tavares – William Nylander
Nicholas Robertson – Max Domi – Calle Jarnkrok
Noah Gregor – David Kampf – Bobby McMann
Morgan Rielly – TJ Brodie
Simon Benoit – Jake McCabe
Mark Giordano – Timothy Liljegren
Starting In Goal
NHL DEBUT (AHL: 7-5-3, 0.919 SV%, 2.20 GAA)
Alex Killorn – Mason McTavish – Frank Vatrano
Max Jones – Trevor Zegras – Ryan Strome
Brock McGinn – Adam Henrique – Brett Leason
Ross Johnston – Sam Carrick – Jakob Silfverberg
Cam Fowler – Jamie Drysdale
Urho Vaakanainen – Radko Gudas
Pavel Mintyukov – Ilya Lyubushkin
Starting In Goal
7-15-0, 0.904 SV%, 2.96 GAA
Toronto’s lineup is expected to stay more or less the same as it was yesterday, with the debate coming in goal. Sheldon Keefe does have the opportunity here to ride Martin Jones’ hot hand after yesterday’s shutout, but a low-scoring Anaheim team with minimal standings implications should Toronto lose seems like a perfect spot to give Dennis Hildeby his first crack at the big stage. I would assume Hildeby right now despite Keefe’s coyness, since the team is playing the second night of a back-to-back, though we’ll see if this changes.
The Ducks are still a ways away from being a contending roster, but there are a lot of fun pieces in and around the lineup, from newest star youngsters Mason McTavish and Pavel Mintyukov, the skillful Trevor Zegras, former Leafs Sam Carrick and Ilya Lybushkin, and a sworn enemy in Radko Gudas.
Frank Vatrano (ANA) over 2.5 shots
Toronto’s list of injuries is business as usual. Everyone waits for Joseph Woll to be ready to go again, the Robidas Island gang is
On Anaheim’s end, Leo Carlsson is recovering from a sprained MCL, and Troy Terry has been out since New Year’s Eve with an upper-body injury. He’s day-to-day, so we’ll see if a return is hinted at later in the day.
- The Leafs are 8-2 in their last 10 games against Anaheim, though the Ducks have the 5-4-1 edge on the puckline. Games have hit the over in seven of the last 10 games between the two teams, dating back to 2017.
- Toronto does tend to have a bit more trouble against the Ducks on the road, though, losing two of their last three, and going 1-3-1 on the puckline in their last five. The California road trip can be as exhausting as it is scenic and it’s historically been a mixed bag for them.
- The Ducks are 1-4 in their last five and 3-7 in their last 10. They’re 5-5 on the puckline and 4-4-2 on the total goals line.
Player Prop Trends
- Adam Henrique leads the Ducks in both goals and points over the last 10 games, with six and eight, respectively. No other Ducks skater has more than three goals in their last 10.
- Alex Killorn leads the Ducks with seven assists in their last 10 games and is the only Duck besides Killorn with more than five points in that stretch. Frank Vatrano leads the team with 29 shots over that same run and is the full-season leader with 122 on the year.
- Another pair of goals for William Nylander last night keeps him at 16 points in his last 10 games, or 23 in his last 15.
Wagers To Consider
- If you like Toronto’s hottest players to stay hot in sunny Southern California, a boosted same-game parlay has the Leafs winning on the moneyline and both Auston Matthews and William Nylander notching multiple points. Normally coming in at +375, this trio is available together at +450.
- John Tavares remains at a shot line of 3.5, albeit a little less lucrative today at -140. He was one of my picks yesterday and added another four shots to his run, which has seen him clear 3.5 in 11 of his last 12 games. While we’re talking shot props, Frank Vatrano at -160 to clear 2.5 also feels pretty good, with the Ducks rested, eager, and Vatrano himself looking to build on three goals in his last four games.
- I’d give a good look at the Ducks puckline here. The Leafs have been shockingly bad at playing against weak teams this year, haven’t been strong on the puckline period, are playing the second half of a back-to-back, and are either getting a tired goalie or a goalie making his NHL debut today. I think they’re still the favourites to win the hockey game from a rational sense, but there are a lot of trap game flags here.