One of the most important players on the Toronto Maple Leafs is nearing a big milestone at an incredibly opportune time. An assist for a third consecutive game puts John Tavares just two points away from the 1,000 mark on his career, just in time for the Leafs to head to UBS Arena to take on his former team, the New York Islanders. Can he accomplish this feat in a setting that couldn’t feel more scripted? It remains to be seen, but let’s dive into the game at hand.
Bet on Maple Leafs vs. Islanders
The Maple Leafs are -125 road favourites with their implied advantage tightening overnight.
Maple Leafs vs. Islanders odds
|Maple Leafs Moneyline Odds
|Islanders Moneyline Odds
|Maple Leafs -1.5 (+200), Islanders +1.5 (-245)
|6.5 goals (over -115, under -105)
|Dec. 11, 7:00 p.m. ET
|Broadcast: Sportsnet (National), TVA Sports (French)
(How to watch the NHL in Canada?)
About the Maple Leafs (14-6-4 SU, 5-17 ATS, 11-10-1 o/u)
The Maple Leafs had a lot to be happy about on Saturday night, as they delivered their first decisive win in weeks. Entering what could’ve been a tough night against the Nashville Predators, Toronto was able to lock it down for a little over half the game before David Kampf opened the scoring in the second period. Auston Matthews added insurance a few minutes later, and a little more on a late-third-period power play. Noah Gregor added an empty-netter with 90 seconds to go, securing a 4-0 win for the blue and white.
It was a particularly promising night off the puck, as Toronto limited Nashville to just 18 shots, and Ilya Samsonov, who has been up and down this year and spent the last week fighting illness, turned all of them away. Especially with Joseph Woll out for the next several weeks with a high ankle sprain, it was important that the Leafs and Samsonov showed this kind of response.
About the Islanders (12-7-7 SU, 11-12-3 ATS, 12-10-4 o/u)
The Islanders have been a tough team to get a grip on this year, in a lot of ways similar to the Maple Leafs. They’ve been a hard team to beat decisively for much of this year, with their last multi-goal loss coming nearly a month ago on Nov. 13, but they’ve also struggled to pull away decisively like the Leafs have, they’ve had a couple of concerning losing skids, and they also have the habit of blowing third period leads. By “the habit of”, I mean that it’s happened in 10 of 26 games, including multiple conceded leads in two of those games.
What it means is hard to sort out. It could mean nothing at all, simply being the random distribution of where the team should be in goal difference (currently -4, eight behind Toronto). It could mean the team focuses too much energy on the start of their games and gets gassed. It could be a curse from the hockey gods. Whatever it is, it’s frustrating Islanders fans, though to call back to earlier in this paragraph, a .596 points percentage or a pace of 98 standings points is pretty good for a team that’s being outscored at this point of the year.
With that said, this bad habit hasn’t impacted them in the last few days. The Islanders had their highest-scoring win and their biggest margin of victory on Thursday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and then beat the Los Angeles Kings in overtime on Saturday, ending the latter’s record-setting road win streak. Things are pretty hot right now, and which version of the Islanders the Leafs get remains to be seen.
Toronto’s last game against the Islanders, well, I’m pretty sure they would rather forget it. It may have been Toronto’s single-worst post-deadline game as, after a first-period icebreaker from since-departed Sam Lafferty, the Islanders absolutely fed Toronto its lunch, scoring seven of the next eight goals. Cal Clutterbuck, of all people, led the charge for New York with two goals and an assist.
|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 – Ryan Reaves
Morgan Rielly – TJ Brodie
William Lagesson – Jake McCabe
Simon Benoit – Conor Timmins
Starting In Goal
4-1-3, 3.57 GAA, 0.886 SV%
Anders Lee – Bo Horvat – Mathew Barzal
Pierre Engvall – Brock Nelson – Kyle Palmieri
Simon Holmstrom – Jean-Gabriel Pageau – Julien Gauthier
Hudson Fasching – Casey Cizikas – Cal Clutterbuck
Alexander Romanov – Noah Dobson
Samuel Bolduc – Robert Bortuzzo
Mike Reilly – Scott Mayfield
Starting In Goal
7-4-6, 3.12, 0.913 SV%
The Toronto Lineup is expected to by and large stay the same. It’s hard to blame them – they’re still waiting for the defence to heal up and the forwards are playing well as is.
On the Islanders’ end, well, they look like the Islanders. Lots of familiar faces from the past few years of facing them, and hey, that’s former Leaf Pierre Engvall in the top six! It’s still crazy to me that he got a seven-year extension. Robert Bortuzzo is a new addition to the New York lineup, having been acquired last week from St. Louis for a seventh-round pick. He’s already made his debut over the weekend.
John Tavares to score 2+ points
The Maple Leafs have nothing new on their front. On the Islanders’ end, their blue line is as banged up as Toronto’s. Adam Pelech is on LTIR with an upper-body injury suffered a few weeks back, Adam Pulock is on IR as of a few days ago due to a lower-body injury, and Sebastian Aho (no, the other one), is on IR with an upper-body injury suffered on Nov. 24.
- The Leafs are 6-4 in this matchup over the past 10 games between the two, dating back to February 2019. This is a rare case where the team is even better on the puckline, at 7-3.
- Speaking of 7-3, that’s the Islanders’ record, both straight-up and on the puckline, over their last 10 games. It’s even the record of the goals over in that stretch!
- Don’t look now, but the Leafs have now cleared the puckline in two of their last three games. Progress! Over their last 10, though, they’re still 3-7 in that regard.
- For the puckline cruisers, the underdog Islanders have won or lost by less than one in 12 consecutive games. The favourite Leafs have won by more than one in just two of their last 17.
Player prop trends
- The Islanders’ top line is heating up right now. Bo Horvat has four goals and seven assists in his last 10 games, while Mathew Barzal has a whopping six goals and eight assists. Both have nine points in their last five games as well. Anders Lee is lagging behind but not by much, with three goals in his last five and five in his last 10.
- Noah Dobson is holding the fort for the Islanders blue line right now, and he’s getting rewarded on the scoresheet for it, with six assists in his last five games and 10 in his last 10.
- William Nylander has taken 40 shots on goal in his last 10 games.
Wagers to consider
- This just might be wish casting, but Tavares hitting the 1,000 mark tonight feels perfect and like something the team will be motivated to make happen for him. You can get him for 2+ points at +250 right now. Not the surest thing in the world, but I think it’s well in the realm of possibility.
- If you think I’m being way too optimistic about this game – which is entirely possible, especially with this team – there’s a nice boosted Same Game Parlay involving the Islanders on bet365 right now, which requires an Islanders moneyline win, a Brock Nelson goal, and two shots from Mathew Barzal. That sits at +450, up from +375.
- If you want a smaller but still spiteful Islanders prop, Pierre Engvall is +350 on an anytime goal.