Free Picks: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens

Maple Leafs vs Canadiens NHL
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens, NHL, Scotiabank Arena, Toronto

The Toronto Maple Leafs return home from their western road trip on a high. They have a comfortable lead in the North Division standings and they are riding a four-game winning streak. But although the Leafs have dominated in their season series against the Canadiens, Montreal seems to be re-energized with the addition of Eric Staal in a recent trade. Can Montreal pull the upset?

Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher hurting

When I go about making my NHL picks, I look at who’s hurt. Montreal goaltender Carey Price has an undisclosed injury and is not making the trip to Toronto and forward Brendan Gallagher has a broken thumb, which takes 14 goals out of the lineup. 

That’s why the best sports bet today is Toronto.

Without Price, Montreal is still in good hands with No. 2 Jake Allen (.922 save percentage), who actually has a better save percentage than Price (.903). With Toronto’s Frederik Andersen injured, Jack Campbell is the No. 1 for the time being.

Campbell is playing out of his mind with a 9-0-0 record that has tied him for the longest winning streak by a goalie in Maple Leafs history. If Michael Hutchinson gets the call against Montreal, the Leafs shouldn’t suffer too much. Hutchinson’s numbers aren’t too shabby (4-2-1, .919 save percentage). But he’s had only one start this month.

When I’m making my NHL predictions, I look at recent results, and you can’t ignore the lift that the Canadiens got on Monday when they overcame a 2-0 deficit and won 3-2 against Edmonton when new trade acquisition Eric Staal tallied with 57.5 seconds remaining in extra time. 

The NHL game odds favor Toronto because, for one, they lead the season series 3-1 and are riding a four-game winning streak. The safe bet is to go with Toronto (-155) with 10Bet, with odds implying they have a 60% chance of winning. 

I am tempted to make a risky play with the Canadiens (+125) for a bigger payout because teams like Toronto that return from a long road trip tend to come up flat in their first game at home. It wouldn’t be a bad bet.

Josh Anderson has been Montreal’s biggest weapon with three goals in four head-to-head games. But Tyler Toffoli, who leads Montreal with 19 goals on the season, has played just two games after returning from injury, so I’m not confident with the Canadiens’ offense. 

Toronto’s Auston Matthews hasn’t been a Habs killer either, with only two goals head-to-head.

I’m staying with the safe bet and taking Toronto with the Money Line, and I expect a low-scoring game, so I’m taking the Under (5.5) (+105) with 10Bet on the total goals. I’m staying away from the puck line.

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  • The total has gone Over in seven of Toronto’s last 10 games against Montreal.
  • The total has gone Under in four of Montreal’s last six games against a division opponent.
  • The Canadiens are averaging 36 shots a game in their last three games.
  • Montreal is 4-1 straight up in their last five games.

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I live in the land of ice and snow in Toronto, Canada's largest city. I can't skate very well, but I know sports, especially hockey, after a long career writing about the Toronto Maple Leafs and other teams at the country's largest newspaper, the Toronto Star. Betting on sports can be a rewarding experience when you understand the trends and underlying characteristics of the teams and players before laying down a bet. That's how I hope to point you in the right direction.