The Toronto Maple Leafs have strung together back-to-back wins despite losing the metric battle, something that's been an issue all month. Now they head to UBS Arena for a tough battle vs. a motivated New York Islanders team that is clinging to a playoff spot.
The Buds are slight favorites tonight, but with Sheldon Keefe unhappy with the recent play and blowing up the lines, is there some value to be had in betting against the players most affected by the line changes?
Find out my best bets for the Maple Leafs vs. Islanders in my NHL betting picks and predictions.
Maple Leafs vs Islanders best odds
Maple Leafs vs Islanders picks and predictions
With all the line juggling the Leafs are doing, it’s creating some value in the NHL player props market.
I think the biggest hit offensively will come to Auston Matthews, who loses his best winger in Mitch Marner and now will skate with Calle Jarnkrok and Alex Kerfoot.
Jarnkrok has a point in four straight games playing on the top line, but Marner needs a lot of credit for that. The move from Marner to Kerfoot is steep, and considering Keefe is spreading his scoring talent across three lines, perhaps Matthews won’t see 20 minutes tonight.
#Leafs lines at practice Mar. 20/23— David Alter (@dalter) March 20, 2023
Absent: Brodie@BodogCA @RinkWideTOR
The Islanders are also a great shot-suppressing team vs. opposing centers and rank fifth in that category. Matthews is 1-1 O/U on his 4.5 shot market vs. the Isles this season, but both of those games were on home ice with Marner on his wing.
At home, only the Bruins allow fewer goals per game than New York, and a lot of that has to do with keeping opposing shots in check. Couple that with the Maple Leafs struggling to win the possession game of late ranking in the Bottom 10 of the league in shots for percentage, Corsi percentage, and shot attempts this month, and I’m not confident they are going to be stuffing the boxscore.
Five shots are a lot when the Leafs are projected for roughly 30 tonight. A 16% shot share is very high when considering his linemates, a possible reduction in ice time, and a tough/physical opponent. On the road, he averages a 13% shot share and is 8-7 to the Under on this prop since returning from injury, but that includes a better offensive situation than he'll see tonight.
Matthews at Under 4.5 shots at -118 is something I’m playing and hoping for better fortune than with my recent Toronto best bets.
My best bet: Auston Matthews Under 4.5 shots (-118 at SIA)
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Maple Leafs vs Islanders moneyline analysis
The Leafs have gone 5-4 SU this month, and although the wins have been nice, this team has not played well when looking at expected-goal metrics, quality-chance differential, shooting percentage, and Corsi numbers.
Since March 1 — a stretch of nine games that include all of the Leafs’ deadline transactions — Toronto sits 27th in Corsi for percentage, 29th in expected goal percentage (xGoal%), dead last in high-danger chances for percentage (HDCF%), and 12th with an 11.11% shooting percentage. Sheldon Keefe knows this and that's why he’s not exactly happy with the team despite the wins and has blown up the lines.
Toronto will be without TJ Brodie and Luke Schenn on the blue line tonight, which hurts as the Islanders are a physical team (fifth in hits). The head coach has also moved Mitch Marner away from Auston Matthews in an effort to get John Tavares going.
“He’s not skating to the same degree he was earlier in the season where he was a dominant player for us,” #Leafs’ Keefe says Nylander hasn’t been going to the net and also wants more from Tavares, leading line shuffle before the game against Ottawa. https://t.co/9YWodGNS3D— David Alter (@dalter) March 21, 2023
William Nylander has taken some heat from Keefe in the media and the coach has sent him to the third line with a questionable supporting cast. This was already a team struggling to win possession and create chances and now Keefe has diluted the scoring talent up front even more.
Ilya Sorokin has been one of the most stable goaltenders all season and if it weren’t for the Bruins, we’d be talking a lot more about the New York starter. On the season, Sorokin has a .932 SV% on home ice with a 2.02 GAA.
Toronto has gotten a little shorter since opening at -120, and a lot of that could be because this will be the Islanders’ first game back from a West Coast trip.
It could be a sloppy game offensively altogether with the changes for the Leafs and the schedule adjustments for the Islanders, but this Toronto team has not played great of late and has lucked out substantially with opposing goaltenders. Tonight could be a different story. I’m off the moneyline but don’t like the prospects of the Toronto offense.
Maple Leafs vs Islanders Over/Under analysis
The market is moving to the Under but I’m off this total entirely.
Samsonov is a giant risk on the road, where he is seemingly a different goalie with a save percentage that is 29 points lower. The New York offense isn’t a threatening bunch, but with the constant line changes and new defensive pairing for the Leafs, there’s a greater risk than usual of the Leafs giving up three or possibly four goals tonight.
The Islanders are also in a three-way battle for the final two playoff spots in the East, acting as a motivating factor in a game I expect both teams to record Under 30 shots. The Leafs’ team total of shots on goal is 30.5 while the Islanders have a 28.5 SOG total.
Toronto did take the last meeting by a 5-2 final with a 5.5 total back in late January, but that was at home. At UBS Arena, the Islanders have the lowest-scoring games in all of hockey at 5.26 total goals per game. At home, they are 3-7-2 O/U on totals of 6.0 or higher in their last 12.
I understand why the market is moving to the Under and it's likely the right move, but with the Leafs’ recent play, I’m off the full-game total but lean to the Under.
Maple Leafs vs Islanders betting trend to know
The Under is 4-1-1 in the last six meetings. Find more NHL betting trends for Maple Leafs vs Islanders.
Maple Leafs vs Islanders game info
|Location:||UBS Arena, Belmont Park, NY|
|Date:||Tuesday, March 21, 2023|
|Puck drop:||7:30 p.m. ET|