After a decisive – first commanding, then nerve-wracking, but ultimately decisive – win against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs are probably feeling pretty good. Ryan O’Reilly looks like the real deal, Noel Acciari looks pretty decent too, and their first game against a serious opponent in weeks ended on a positive note. Today they’ve got a new challenge at hand though, as the Minnesota Wild come into town with urgency and higher expectations. Lets break it down!
Maple Leafs vs. Wild odds
|Maple Leafs Moneyline Odds
|Wild Moneyline Odds
|6.0 goals (over -125, under +105)
|Friday, Feb. 24, 7 p.m. ET
|Broadcast: TSN 4 (Toronto Local)
Stream: Sportsnet Now Premium
(How to watch the NHL in Canada?)
The Maple Leafs and Wild last faced each other on Nov. 25, in Minnesota. While this game was a close 4-3 result, Toronto never trailed. Mitch Marner scored first, and Kirill Kaprizov fired back a few minutes later. Zach Aston-Reese responded seconds after that, and Matt Boldy tied it up early in the second period. Calle Jarnkrok restored the Leafs’ lead, and William Nylander added insurance in the third, meaning Mats Zuccarello’s goal that followed got them close, but not quite.
Nylander and Aston-Reese tied with Auston Matthews, David Kampf, and John Tavares for the team shot lead with three, while Kaprizov led the entire game with a whopping nine.
About the Maple Leafs (35-17-7-1, 25-33 ATS, 26-30 o/u)
Not a lot has changed with the Leafs since we looked at them ahead of the aforementioned game against Buffalo. One thing that did jump out on the transaction front was Joey Anderson clearing the waiver wire. While Toronto players getting scooped up almost automatically has been a bit of a running gag in recent years, the 24-year-old displacement/worker-bee forward managed to slip through the cracks on Thursday, allowing for him to be assigned to the Toronto Marlies. Anderson had three points in 14 games with the big club in a limited role, while putting up a near point-per-game pace in his AHL time.
More than anything, Toronto will just be looking to build off of the Buffalo game, though preferably with a less dramatic ending. The Leafs put up the first five goals of the game but allowed Buffalo back in with three goals in 11 minutes in the third period. Cleaning that up will be key ahead of tonight.
Player to watch: Morgan Rielly
While Rielly has been a bit of a whipping boy in Toronto this year, he’s starting to look a bit more like his usual self of late. In his last eight games, Rielly has averaged about 22 minutes per game and picked up two goals and six assists, including a helper against the Sabres. Having him involved in puck movement and transition is crucial to the Leafs’ odds of going deep this year and they’ll be looking to have him as involved as possible in every game down the stretch, including tonight.
About the Wild (32-21-2-3, 23-35 ATS, 25-28 o/u)
The Minnesota Wild have been involved in two huge trades in the past week and change, and they combine for zero impact on the actual roster. Specifically, Minnesota was the “middle man” in both the Ryan O’Reilly trade to Toronto, and yesterday’s Dmitri Orlov trade from Washington to Boston. In both cases, the Wild offered up some of their remaining cap space and salary retention spots to retain half of half of the aforementioned players’ salaries – a shrewd way to pick up a fourth and fifth round draft pick while not really doing anything.
Oh, and they’ve got a team on the ice, and that team is actually looking pretty decent of late. A 2-0 shutout against the Blue Jackets yesterday gave the team its fourth consecutive win, with points in six of its last seven, placing the Wild right in the thick of the Central Division playoff race. Stingy defence has been the focus of this run, with no more than three goals conceded in any of their games.
Player to watch: Matt Boldy
It’s rare that I take a player to watch because they’re slumping rather than streaking, but I feel like something has to be coming up for the 21-year-old. Signed to a seven-year contract extension earlier this season with a bet on his potential in mind, Boldy had a strong first half but has been goalless in his last 11 games, with just three assists to match, all on the power play. With 39 shots on goal in that span, it’s not a lack of effort his way, so I imagine something will click sooner than later – why not in the Centre of the Universe?
Team: Ilya Samsonov (20-7-2, 2.40 GAA, 0.915 SV%)- unconfirmed.
Team: Filip Gustavsson (15-8-2, 2.11 GAA, 0.928 SV%) – confirmed
The Maple Leafs are without Matt Murray and Rasmus Sandin. Minnesota will be without Jonas Brodin and Jon Merrill.
Betting trends to watch
- Toronto is 7-2 on the puckline in its last nine games against Minnesota.
- The Leafs have played over the total in five of their last seven games.
- The Wild have played under the total in four straight road games.
- Minnesota is 1-4 in the past five meetings.
Wagers to consider
- I’m not sure that Kirill Kaprizov gets nine shots on goal again, but I imagine he’ll be creating volume. The line is at 3.5 tonight and bet365 has the over at -120.
- As mentioned above, I think that Matt Boldy’s cold streak at even strength has a good shot at coming to an end tonight. If you agree, a point sits at -125, and if you disagree, another pointless night can be found at bet365 at -115.
- Unfortunately, Justin Holl getting a goal against this hometown team isn’t on the board tonight, but that’s probably because it’s wishful thinking. Instead, let’s look at Morgan Rielly to get a power play point and continue his run of offence – that’s at +300.
Other NHL Games Tonight
There are four additional games on the NHL schedule tonight. Here’s who we’ve got on tap: