The Toronto Maple Leafs play their fourth game of a five-game road trip tonight in Carolina before wrapping it up tomorrow in Nashville. It’s the second time the Leafs and Hurricanes will meet in the last 10 days, with Toronto prevailing by a score of 5-2 on home ice last Friday.
The Leafs will catch another break tonight as rookie goalie Pyotr Kochetkov is probable to start in net for the home side. He’s struggled mightily since rejoining the Hurricanes and allowed five goals in their latest loss to Toronto.
With the current issues in net for Carolina, coupled with some metrics indicating a scoring surge for the -145 favorites, is tonight a good time to take the Over?
Find out my best bet in our free NHL picks and predictions for Maple Leafs vs. Hurricanes on March 25.
Maple Leafs vs Hurricanes best odds
Maple Leafs vs Hurricanes picks and predictions
The Leafs have had an up-and-down month in terms of production and winning the metric battle.
However, they’ve put together a pair of decent performances and the well-timed rest that Sheldon Keefe has been giving his players seems to be paying off. The offense is coming off its best game in two weeks in a 6-2 win over the Panthers on Thursday and now gets a chance to put up some more goals in a favorable matchup vs. Hurricanes goalie Pyotr Kochetkov.
Kochetkov began the season on fire but has certainly regressed since his last call-up. Since January 1, the rookie goalie is 1-6 straight up with an awful .868 SV%. He’s allowed at least three goals in all but one of those starts and now faces a team that beat him five times on 24 shots last week.
Add in a Toronto team that ranks 30th in expected goals allowed per 60 this month and 28th in high-danger chances against, and we could see heavy scoring from both sides this evening.
Carolina is due for some goals as they sit just behind the Oilers in expected goals/60 in March at 5-on-5, but come in at just 27th in actual goals per game.
The Canes minimize scoring chances at a league-best rate, but Kochetkov could still struggle with a small workload. The Hurricanes’ offense is trending toward a breakout game and the Leafs’ expected goals against metrics are indicating it could come tonight.
Carolina also produced 3.9 expected goals in the last meeting, which has been the team’s highest total in nine games.
My best bet: Over 6 (-110 at SIA)
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Maple Leafs vs Hurricanes moneyline analysis
Toronto opened as a +125 road dog and was available at +120 for the majority of the morning before moving back to the opening price of +125 at noon.
Toronto closed as -125 home favorites in their last matchup against Carolina, and if we are assuming 25 points for home ice, that would put tonight’s moneyline price right where it belongs.
In that last meeting, the Leafs were outplayed and lost the expected goal battle by over 1.8 goals according to Natural Stat Trick. Carolina doubled the shot-attempt output of the Leafs in that contest and could be trending to a solid offensive outing tonight.
The Hurricanes have been snake-bitten by a poor shooting percentage this month and their current shooting percentage of 6.85% is not sustainable, even with the loss of Andrei Svechnikov to injury.
To Carolina's benefit, only the Golden Knights and Blue Jackets have a worse expected goals against (xGA) in March than the Leafs. Toronto is simply allowing too many high-danger chances and the constant juggling of defensive pairings isn’t helping.
Matt Murray has played well since returning between the pipes, but he’s still allowed four goals in six of his last seven games and Toronto's defense (or lack thereof) certainly hasn't helped.
With Kochetkov tough to trust in net for the Hurricanes, I’m off playing a side and would rather focus on the O/U market.
Maple Leafs vs Hurricanes Over/Under analysis
The Leafs’ big skaters all produced on Thursday in Florida and the new lines might be what the offense needs to produce against a struggling goalie on Saturday.
I’m also expecting Carolina to flirt with four goals tonight, thanks to the generosity of the Leafs at even strength. Carolina deserved more than two goals in the last outing and now faces a goalie in Matt Murray has been just average on the season with a .906 SV%.
The Toronto power play has seven goals over its last nine games, but its penalty kill has also given up that many goals over that same stretch. The last meeting didn’t see many infractions called, but Toronto did go 1-for-1 when they were given the man advantage.
With Kochetkov’s struggles and a Carolina offense that is due to score, I’d be very surprised if both teams didn’t net at least two goals.
Maple Leafs vs Hurricanes betting trend to know
The Over is 6-0-1 in the Maple Leafs’ last seven vs. Eastern Conference opponents. Find more NHL betting trends for Maple Leafs vs Hurricanes.
Maple Leafs vs Hurricanes game info
|Location:||PNC Arena, Raleigh, NC|
|Date:||Saturday, March 25, 2023|
|Puck drop:||7:00 p.m. ET|
|TV:||Sportsnet, Bally Southeast|