Following the trade acquisitions of Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari, it’s a great day to be a Toronto Maple Leaf fan. But with a Saturday night date with the Leaf-killing Montreal Canadiens, tonight might be a better spot to fade the heavily-favored home side.
The Habs have won four of the last five meetings and both games this year at home. With the Leafs adjusting their lines and having to start their No. 3 goalie, is there value in the dogs tonight?
Find out my best NHL picks and predictions for Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs on Saturday, February 18.
Canadiens vs Maple Leafs best odds
Canadiens vs Maple Leafs picks and predictions
The Canadiens play the Maple Leafs tough despite what the odds say. Toronto has won just two of the last nine meetings, and even in those wins, the Buds have prevailed by a single goal. Montreal has taken both games this year, and Josh Anderson has scored in both of them.
Anderson is a Leaf killer, and has recorded six points over his last six meetings with the Buds. Over 10% of his career goals have come against Toronto.
Anderson is averaging just 0.40 points per game this year, but is playing on the top line as well as the first power play unit. The opportunities are there, the matchup vs. starting goalie Joseph Woll is favorable, and the odds for just a point are well worth the price of admission tonight at +155.
Since the Christmas break, Anderson leads the team in shots at 2.6 per game, and is tied for the team lead in goals with seven. Rookie linemate Rafael Harvey-Pinard is playing well, with seven goals in his last 11 games, while the power play has six goals over the team’s last five contests. Montreal has also scored 16 goals in four games since the All-Star break.
It’s impossible to find a forward with Anderson's role and opportunity at this price. I have this at closer to a coinflip.
My best bet: Josh Anderson Over 0.5 points (+155 at SIA)
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Canadiens vs Maple Leafs moneyline analysis
The Leafs became a better team overnight by trading for former Conn Smythe winner Ryan O’Reilly and soon-to-be fan favorite Noel Acciari. Thanks to that move, the Leafs moved from -425 to -450 on the moneyline, making it the fourth straight game they’ve been a -250 or shorter favorite, and the third straight game at -350 or shorter.
Betting the Leafs means paying taxes, and vs. a Montreal team that has played this team tough over the last three seasons, I’m happy to let the home side get shorter to get the best price on tonight’s dogs.
Montreal is 2-0 SU vs. the Leafs this season, winning as a +305 home dog in January and a +215 home dog in October. Even looking back to last season, Montreal took two of the last three matchups (wins of +230 and +330). In the last nine meetings, Montreal is 7-2 SU, with Toronto's two wins coming by a single goal. Playing bad teams poorly is nothing new to the Leafs.
Looking at the worst teams in hockey: Chicago, Columbus, Anaheim, Montreal, Arizona, Vancouver, and San Jose, Toronto is a combined 5-7 SU vs. them on the season, netting $100 bettors over $1,300 in those games with the dogs.
Flying under the radar tonight is the health of No. 1 goalie Ilya Samsonov, who is dealing with an illness and is out for tonight. Joseph Woll was the only goalie at practice yesterday, and after the backup’s performance last Saturday at home vs. the Blue Jackets — where he gave up four goals on 40 shots — the Leafs are nowhere near a layup tonight at this price.
It’s Hockey Night in Canada, the Habs have taken three of four since the All-Star break, and would like nothing more than spoil the Leafs’ excitement. O’Reilly should suit up, but Accaiari is looking doubtful to do so.
Feel free to take the visitors on the reverse Puck Line (+1.5) for plus money (+130), but the straight moneyline play at +360 is a solid option.
Canadiens vs Maple Leafs Over/Under analysis
The total hasn’t seen much movement after opening at 6.5, -110 a side. With Woll being confirmed this morning, we could see some handle move to the Over and move this to -115 for the Over 6.5. The last meeting in January closed with a total of 6.5 paying +100 for the Over, with Samsonov and Sam Montembeault in net.
The move from Samsonov to Woll is significant here, as the rookie goalie has just five NHL starts. He wasn’t great last Saturday in his only start of the year, finishing with minus-1.67 goals saved above expected while still seeing 44 shots.
On the other side, the Habs have 16 goals in the four games since the break, and might get Kirby Dach back tonight. That helps the Over, as he had been the hottest player on the team before sitting with an illness.
The Habs have confirmed Jake Allen as the starter. He's coming off a 22-save shutout over the Blackhawks, but I’d much prefer Allen than Monembeault for an Over. Since Christmas, Allen has a 3.87 GAA with a putrid .878 SV% across eight games.
Montreal also takes penalties at a Top-10 rate, while the Toronto power play has scored in five of its last six games with the man advantage. Let’s also not discount Auston Matthews playing in his second game since sitting four games with an injury.
The Leafs’ offense can push this game, but with the goalie matchup, we could easily see a tilt like last Saturday, where the Leafs' dominate at times but also snooze for long stretches. I’m leaning on this Over 6.5, but am happy supporting the side rather than the total between two teams who have played to the Under in 15 of the last 22 meetings.
Canadiens vs Maple Leafs betting trend to know
The Canadiens are 4-1 SU in their last five meetings with the Maple Leafs. Find more NHL betting trends for Canadiens vs Maple Leafs.
Canadiens vs Maple Leafs game info
|Location:||Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON|
|Date:||Saturday, February 18, 2023|
|Puck drop:||7:00 p.m. ET|