Sheldon Keefe's patience is wearing thin as the Toronto Maple Leafs' soft and inconsistent play during this long road trip is eating at the Buds' bench boss. But will his stern words be enough to motivate the Maple Leafs ahead of Saturday night’s battle with the bigger and stronger New York Islanders?
Find out in our free NHL picks and predictions for Maple Leafs vs. Islanders.
Maple Leafs vs Islanders odds
Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.
Toronto opened up at -160 on the moneyline and, like most Maple Leaf prices, moved in the Leafs’ favor to -180. The total is sitting at 5.5. The Leafs closed at -120 on the ML in New York in the last meeting but that was the second game of a back-to-back and backup Joseph Woll was in net.
Maple Leafs vs Islanders predictions
Predictions made on 1/22/2022 at 9:00 a.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.
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Maple Leafs vs Islanders game info
• Location: UBS Arena, Elmont, NY
• Date: Saturday, January 22, 2022
• Puck drop: 7:00 p.m. ET
• TV: MSG+, SNO
Maple Leafs vs Islanders betting preview
Maple Leafs: Jake Muzzin D (Out), Justin Holl D (Out), Ondrej Kase F (Out), Nick Ritchie F (Questionable).
Islanders: Ryan Pulock D (Out), Kyle Palmieri F (Out).
Find our latest NHL injury reports.
Maple Leafs vs Islanders head-to-head record (since 2018)
Maple Leafs: 6-3 SU, 27 goals for.
Islanders: 3-6 SU, 23 goals for.
Betting trend to know
The Over is 12-4 in the last 16 meetings in New York. Find more NHL betting trends for Maple Leafs vs. Islanders.
Maple Leafs vs Islanders picks and predictions
Our predictions are compiled from the analysis of the spread and total and are indications of where we are leaning for this game.
Our best bet is the play that we like the most for this game, which we would actually put some of our bankroll behind.
After the Leafs’ 6-3 collapse to the Rangers on Wednesday, Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe called his team out for being soft and purposeless — yes, that’s a real word. The tough love is somewhat warranted as the team has played inconsistently over its six-game road trip, which wraps up tonight. Of the five games they have played on this trip, Toronto has led 3-1 in four of those games and allowed its opponent to tie it up in each. They have five points so far on this trip but it could easily have been zero.
For longtime Toronto fans, these results are too familiar, and with them comes the loud noise of the media, which we’ve seen can be detrimental to this team’s performance. But is the cause of these problems something the team can address and make adjustments to?
"We got exposed today for being a team that was just soft. Soft and purposeless and just kind of playing the game hoping it was gonna work out." —Sheldon Keefe— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) January 20, 2022
First off, the play in net from Jack Campbell has been subpar on this road trip. The Leafs’ starter has given up 18 goals in his last four games and will watch from the bench as Petr Mrazek will draw the start tonight. Campbell finished with a negative goals saved above expected in each of those four games, so the goals aren’t all on the team, but Mrazek is still a tough goalie to get behind, especially with a thin blue line in front of him.
The losses of Justin Holl and Jake Muzzin are tough to repair for the Leafs and their personnel. The new second pairing of Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren weigh a combined 380 pounds and were out-muscled often vs. the Rangers on Wednesday, as Liljegren got dusted by Chris Kreider off the faceoff, who got to the net uncontested.
Carl Dahlstrom is also expected to make his Leafs debut on the blueline today, replacing Alex Biega. Dahlstrom hasn’t played in the NHL since 2019-20, but is 6-foot-4 and is some needed size on this small Leafs defense. The addition of Dahlstrom won't be enough, as he's expected to play on the bottom pairing and this blue line will still be a weakness tonight versus a much more physical Islanders team. We’re expecting similar results as the Rangers game.
The offense has been more than adequate, but Toronto has lost or gone to overtime four times when scoring three or more goals. This is a personnel issue as the Leafs are going to get owned in their own end by the more physical Islander forwards, and with Mrazek averaging -0.635 goals saved above expected/60 over four games this year, we don’t trust this Leafs’ team tonight.
The only advantage Toronto has is that New York played last night in a 4-0 win over the Coyotes. The Islanders are deep in the crease however and Toronto will likely see Semyon Varlamov in net. The Russian goalie is starting to hit his stride after a rough patch and has won three of his last four starts and has surrendered just six goals over that stretch.
The Islanders are 7-6-3 at home this season but lead the league in GAA at home with a mark of 2.19. They’ve won seven of their last nine on home ice and took 11 of a possible 14 points. Their wins haven’t come against top teams but even in their recent losses (Washington, Vegas and Nashville), they were all competitive one-goal games.
The Leafs are in a funk and we’ve seen in the past that it usually takes them some time to get out of it. They are severely undersized on the blue line and no Toronto lead is safe it seems. With a backup goalie and depleted defense in the last game of their longest road trip of the season, we’ll ride the Toronto fade-train one more night, even with New York having played the night before.
Prediction: Islanders ML (+160)
Last Saturday, the Leafs played the Blues in St. Louis and easily hit the 5.5 Over in a 6-5 victory. St. Louis entered that game with the league’s best GAA at home at 2.16 and the Leafs offense torched the usually defensive Blues for six goals. Saturday brings us a very similar scenario with the Buds taking on a good defensive home team in the Islanders. However, it’s not the offense that has been the problem for the Leafs during the trip, as it's scored at least three goals in all but one of the five games. The problem has been the “soft and purposeless” play that has let their opponents come back even when Toronto is holding multi-goal leads.
The Leafs have hit the Under in just three of their last 15 games and have seen the total go Over in each of their last five games with a total of 5.5. This is the No. 3 offense in hockey since December at 4.21 goals per game and has the No. 2 power play. However, it also has a Bottom-15 penalty kill and is allowing 3.50 goals per game since December 1.
#Leafs lines at practice Jan. 21/22— David Alter (@dalter) January 21, 2022
Extra: Clifford, Ritchie
Mrazek has a .882 SV% on the season and could easily see his defensemen get bullied in front and along the boards tonight. New York has just two Overs to its name in its last 10 games, but Saturday’s meeting will give Lou Lamoriello’s team ample opportunities to pot three or four goals. This is a bad matchup for the Leafs and their injuries really favor the Over.
At five-on-five, the Leafs should be able to play the possession game well against a New York team that sits in the Bottom 5 of the league in Corsi% and Fenwick%. The Leafs sit third in expected goals but also rank second behind the Canadiens in defensive zone giveaways. Toronto also does a horrible job of blocking shots and ranks in the Bottom 5 in that category.
With its defensive inconsistencies and top-six forwards still humming, Toronto is playing as the perfect Over team right now. Toronto did win 3-0 in the last meeting but the circumstances are much different tonight. Both teams should have their opportunities to score as we doubt the Leafs’ struggles can be fixed with its current personnel.
Prediction: Over 5.5 (-110)
There is no getting cute on this one. We’re getting a low total of 5.5 as the Islanders aren’t known as a great offensive team, but they’re scoring nearly 3.00 goals per game since the beginning of the month and face a Toronto team who they can bully tonight. We expect the Islanders to get a lot of pucks at the net and bang in some garbage goals, much like we saw in Toronto’s game vs. the Rangers.
The Leafs’ offense is perfect for Overs. The top-six is getting heavy minutes and struggling to play in their own end while the third line is finding its way onto the scoresheet nightly. Additionally, both teams will be riding backup goalies and the schedule spot doesn’t help either team.
A Leafs game with a total of 5.5? Yes, please.
Pick: Over 5.5 (-110)
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