Panthers vs Maple Leafs Odds, Picks, and Predictions Tonight: Verhaeghe Leads Desperate Florida Attack

While the Leafs are locked into a playoff spot, the Panthers are on the outside looking in. Desperate for a win with just eight games remaining, our NHL betting picks expect the Cats — particularly Carter Verhaeghe — to fire away.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2023 1:31 PM ET Read Time: 4 min

The Toronto Maple Leafs return home after a five-game road trip (3-2 SU) to face a desperate Florida Panthers team that sits three points out of a playoff spot with eight games to play.

The Panthers could shorten up their bench tonight in a critical game vs. a team they’ve beaten once in the last 10 meetings in Toronto. However, Toronto bettors should also be fully aware that the Leafs don’t have as much to play for and will be dressing seven defensemen again tonight. 

I break it all down in my best NHL betting picks for Panthers vs. Maple Leafs below. 

Panthers vs Maple Leafs best odds

Panthers vs Maple Leafs picks and predictions

I’m not sure how the Florida Panthers will do on the scoreboard, but with so much on the line and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ poor play at 5-on-5 since the deadline, the top six for the Cats should see plenty of ice and push an offense that needs to produce to get critical points tonight.

Carter Verhaeghe has been one of the best players on this Florida team not named Matthew Tkachuk. He’s skating with the aforementioned Tkachuk and is getting big minutes as the team’s heaviest shooter — 19.92 shot attempts/60 which leads the team. Since February 1, the winger ranks fifth in hockey in shot attempts/60 — just behind Nathan MacKinnon.  

The opportunity and game script are certainly in Verhaeghe’s favor but so is the matchup. Toronto has not been a good 5-on-5 team this month and a lot of that has been because there hasn't been an urgency in its game with a playoff spot wrapped up and Sheldon Keefe rotating the lineup to keep bodies healthy.

Toronto currently ranks in the bottom half of the league in shots allowed and shot attempts allowed/60 at 5-on-5 this month while also ranking 24th in expected goals against/60 (xGA/60) and 23rd in high-dangers chances allowed/60 (HDCA/60).  

Verhaeghe has also collected 4+ shots in eight straight games and is 25-12 O/U on his 3.5 shot total since January 1. With a projected game script that should see this offense push and give its top line heavy minutes, another high-volume game is certainly probable for the shoot-first forward.

This is as low as I’d go on this price but still think it has a better than the 50% chance of hitting that the price is indicating.

My best betCarter Verhaeghe Over 3.5 shots on goal (-120 at SIA

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Panthers vs Maple Leafs moneyline analysis

The Panthers have struggled to beat the Leafs in Toronto and are 1-9 SU in the last 10 meetings at Scotiabank Arena. The Leafs have taken both meetings this year and have had no issues running up the score taking a 6-2 win in Florida last week as a +115 road dog and a 5-4 overtime win at home back in January as a -160 home favorite.

The Leafs opened as short as -155 but have seen a 5-point movement across the board toward the Panthers. Florida certainly has more to play for sitting three points out of a playoff spot with only eight games to go, but just because a team has more at stake, doesn’t always correlate to better results. 

Toronto will continue to roll with seven defensemen and tough forward Noel Acciari will also get a game off. Florida will be without Sam Bennett again who has missed four straight games — all losses. The gritty forward is a big piece of this offense and the forecheck. 

Ultimately, the Leafs have the edges in goaltending at home and on special teams. Ilya Samsonov (probable) has been nearly perfect at home with an 18-2-2 record and 1.95 GAA. His .929 SV% is 37 points higher on home ice.

On the other side, likely Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has been playing a ton (20 of the team’s 22 games since February 1) and has been wearing down of late with a 3.11 GAA and a sub-.900 SV% since the All-Star break. He’s 0-3 SU in his last three starts and has allowed 13 goals, including five to the Leafs last week on 26 shots. 

The Toronto power play is coming off a 2-goal outing Sunday in Nashville and ranks as the No. 3 unit in hockey since January 1. They’ll face a struggling Florida penalty kill that allowed three goals to the Senators’ power play on Monday.

The Panthers’ PK has been busy since the start of the calendar year as the club takes the third-most penalties per game and the results have been the league’s 30th-ranked PK over that stretch. Only Vegas has a worse save percentage shorthanded this month than Florida at 76.19, per Natural Stat Trick

At 25-7-5 at home this season, Toronto has been one of the best home teams in hockey, and coupled with its opponent's desperation, goaltending, special teams, and a price 15 points longer than the last meeting in Toronto, I think the Leafs are the right side tonight and worth a play on the moneyline at -145 or longer.  

Panthers vs Maple Leafs Over/Under analysis

This total opened at 7 — leaning to the Under — and hasn’t seen much movement either way.

The high total is warranted as both clubs have been playing Over hockey of late and are a combined 13-3-4 to the Over in their last 10 games. Toronto is seeing an average of 7.2 total goals per game (3.8 for and 2.4 against) in its last 10 while Florida is seeing an average of 7.7 total goals (3.8 for and 3.9 against) over that same span.

The shootouts have been supported heavily with special-team play as each club has a power play at 26% or better over that stretch and a penalty kill at 75% or worse. I’d set the total power play goals scored in this game at 1.5 with some juice on the Under.

Toronto has given up a lot of expected goals at even strength since the trade deadline and the constant shuffling of the lines and playing seven defensemen hasn’t been tightening things up either. If it weren’t for the ridiculous numbers Samsonov has been putting up at home, I’d have no issues hitting this high total. 

However, the goalie’s play could be offset by some possibly uncommon occurrences happening tonight. The Panthers need to win and will empty the cupboards to do so — especially late if they’re trailing. We could see a goalie pulled down three goals or just a team willing to push the offense and be susceptible to a Toronto counter. 

Like the Vegas game last night that had an opening total of 7, I think I’d prefer the favorite and their team total Over instead of the full game. There are some Toronto TT Over 3.5s out there at -130 and because of the possible goalie pull down three, there isn’t a scenario where the Leafs lead late and don’t see an empty net to hit that Over.

Even a 3-0 lead could see Florida go for the extra attacker. I expect the Cats to be extremely desperate tonight, opening them up to penalties and a lack of attention to defense.  

Panthers vs Maple Leafs betting trend to know

The Panthers are 1-9 in the last 10 meetings in Toronto. Find more NHL betting trends for Panthers vs Maple Leafs.

Panthers vs Maple Leafs game info

Location: Scotiabank Arena, City, State/Province
Date: Wednesday, March 29, 2023
Puck drop: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: Bally Sports Florida, Sportsnet 

Panthers vs Maple Leafs key injuries


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