The Toronto Maple Leafs are in the midst of a West Coast trip that began in Edmonton and will take them through Calgary, Vancouver, Seattle, and Winnipeg before returning back to Toronto for the second half of a home-and-home against the Jets.
The second game of the trip will be in Calgary on Thursday against the red-hot Flames. Both teams are going to be in a dogfight to secure a playoff spot in their respective conferences. Coming into this game, it is time to see how these two stack up against one another.
Bet on Maple Leafs vs. Flames
Maple Leafs vs. Flames odds
|Maple Leafs Moneyline Odds
|Flames Moneyline Odds
|Maple Leafs -1.5 (+180), Flames +1.5 (-220)
|6.5 goals (over -120, under +100)
|Jan. 18, 9:00 p.m. ET
|Broadcast: Sportsnet West, TSN4
(How to watch the NHL in Canada?)
About the Maple Leafs (21-13-8 SU,13-29 ATS, 19-17-1)
The Leafs have had an up-and-down trajectory so far this season. As of Thursday, they’re fourth in the Atlantic Division behind the Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, and Boston Bruins.
The competition is tough in the Eastern Conference and if they aren’t careful, the Leafs could find themselves more worried about grabbing a Wild Card spot rather than trying to land in the top three of the division.
The offence is led by the three-headed monster of William Nylander, Auston Matthews, and Mitch Marner. Matthews leads the NHL in goals with 34 through 41 games and has 50 points in all. Marner has 29 assists (second on the Leafs) and 47 points as well. Nylander has been the star of the team this season, currently leading them in assists (36) and points (57) through 42 games. However, he’s slowed down a bit since signing a massive $90 million-plus extension.
Defensively, the Leafs got a little nastier than they have been in years but the real standout is Morgan Rielly. He has racked up 35 points through 42 games this season. His resurgence will be key if the Leafs are hoping to get away from the Wild Card spots and back in contention for the division crown.
In net, things have been questionable. Joseph Woll had a solid start to the season – 8-5-1, 2.80 GAA, .916% – but he landed on injured reserve. Martin Jones has filled in nicely but backup Ilya Samsonov has been a major concern. His .863 SV% is atrocious but they need him to fill in while Woll is out.
About the Flames (21-18-5 SU, 22-22 ATS, 23-19-2)
On paper, the Flames seemed like they would struggle this season. They are something of a surprise this season, sitting in fifth place in the ultra-competitive Pacific Division. The Canucks (62 points) and Golden Knights (55) are way ahead, but the Flames (47 points) are in the thick of the race with the Kings (50) and Oilers (49), although both of those teams have games in hand on Calgary.
The Flames have been quite hot of late. They have won four straight games coming into this contest and seven of their last 10 games overall. They are getting contributions from all over the lineup despite not having a clear standout scorer.
That role was supposed to go to Jonathan Huberdeau when the team dealt Matthew Tkachuk in an exchange of star wingers. However, Huberdeau had a miserable season a year ago and hasn’t found his groove this year, either. He has just six goals and 23 points through 43 games this season and has spent more time in the doghouse than out of it.
The Flames play a tough brand of hockey, relying on teamwork rather than top-end talent. Blake Coleman is having a surprising season, having netted 20 goals and 38 points (both lead the team) so far. The team is deep at centre and has been playing to that strength all season long.
These two teams already battled once earlier this season. That matchup came back on Nov. 10 in Toronto during the early stages of the season. The home crowd was treated to a heap of action, including nine total goals on the night.
The Leafs took a 4-3 lead into the third period before the Flames ultimately tied things up. It would take not only an overtime but a shootout to finish things out. The Leafs prevailed in the end, taking the exciting 5-4 victory on home ice.
Nylander was the star of the show on that night. He tallied three points in all – two goals and an assist – while throwing seven shots at the net. The Flames, meanwhile, got a point from a whopping 11 players on the night. Even guys like Martin Pospisil, the now-traded Nikita Zadorov, and A.J. Greer managed to find the stat sheet.
Auston Matthews to score a goal
Huberdeau didn’t play Tuesday night against the Arizona Coyotes. He was dealing with an illness but should be ready to take on the Leafs. The real injury to watch is goalie Jacob Markstrom. He is day-to-day with a lower-body injury and the team has called up promising prospect Dustin Wolf in the meantime.
The Leafs have thankfully been healthy of late after going through a litany of injuries in December and early January. Tough guy Ryan Reaves is on injured reserve, as is Woll (ankle). Defenceman John Klingberg had surgery on his hip and is done for the year.
- The Leafs have been absolutely porous when it comes to the puckline this year. In their last 10 games, they have covered the puckline just once as underdogs against the Bruins (a 4-3 loss). They failed to cover in their other nine games, losing outright three other times. Since Oct. 26, they have covered just one other time (on that date in a 4-1 win over Dallas).
- The Flames have been surprisingly adept at hitting the over this season. Despite not having a league-leading scorer, the Flames have hit the over in three straight and six of nine. That includes a push against the Nashville Predators when the two combined for six goals (a 4-2 loss).
- Offence has not been a challenge for the Leafs as they have also been quite hot when it comes to hitting the over. They have achieved the feat in four of their last five games, with a 4-0 shutout of the Predators being the only game to break their previous streak of three straight overs.
Player prop trends
- Nylander’s player points prop is set at 1.5 points (over +120, under -160). He has been ice cold, having failed to reach the stat sheet in his last four games. Before that, he had ripped off four multi-point efforts in six games. He has 17 multi-point games so far this season.
- Nazem Kadri has 36 points in 44 games to date. His points prop is set at 0.5 (over -140, under +100) for this contest. He has been white-hot of late, picking up points in seven straight games, including multi-point efforts in three of his last five games (10 points in seven games during the streak).
- Matthews leads the NHL in goals with 34. His anytime goal scorer prop is set at 0.5 (over -110) and he has been pretty consistent. He has scored in three of his last five and five of his last 10 games. He had a goal and an assist in the 4-2 loss to Edmonton on Tuesday.
Wagers to consider
- It’s hard to go away from Matthews. As the NHL’s leading goal scorer, he gets on the scoresheet far more often than not. He was held scoreless in the 5-4 overtime win against Calgary back in November, so he will want to rectify the situation on Thursday.
- Both teams have been very good of late against the over. With the Flames offence finding a grove, they should combine with the star-studded Leafs’ attack to get past the over 6.5 goals (-120) in what should be a fun back-and-forth contest.
- Rielly has been on fire this month, recording eight points in eight games. He gets plenty of power-play time, which means being on the ice with Marner, Matthews, and Nylander. Keep riding him and take the over on his points prop (0.5, -150) against the Flames.