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The Boston Bruins are on a three-game losing streak.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have won three of their last four games.
The Bruins are 1-1-0 against the Maple Leafs this season.
Odds Taken from FanDuel Sportsbook.
Toronto Maple Leafs
38-7-5 (1st in Atlantic Division)
31-12-8 (2nd in Atlantic Division)
David Pastrnak (71)
Mitchell Marner, William Nylander (59)
David Pastrnak (38)
William Nylander (28)
David Pastrnak (33)
Mitchell Marner (41)
Hampus Lindholm (31)
Timothy Liljgren (22)
David Pastrnak (4.86)
Shots (Per Game)
Auston Matthews (4.26)
The Boston Bruins will face the Toronto Maple Leafs for the third time this season. The Maple Leafs won the first matchup 2-1, but Boston tied up the series with a 4-3 victory a couple of months later.
The Bruins still hold the NHL’s top spot with 81 points. I do not expect them to give up this spot as the season progresses. Their opponents, the Maple Leafs, are right behind them and have 70 points. A win today would push them closer to overtaking Boston, but it does not seem like they will be able to do it.
You cannot say many negative things about the Bruins. They are on a three-game losing streak but still have the NHL’s best defense and second-best offense. If that is not enough, Boston also has the NHL’s best goalie in Linus Ullmark. The Bruins have all the pieces necessary to make a Playoff run and win it all.
The Bruins have an elite goal scorer in David Pastrnak but also have a few other productive players in Brad Marchand, David Krejci, and Patrice Bergeron. Pastrnak has an incredible 38 goals and 33 assists in 50 games, but Marchand, Krejci, and Bergeron also all have at least 38 points.
Linus Ullmark has been a brick wall in the net for the Bruins this year. Ullmark has a league-leading 25 wins, and his 1.9 goals against average and .936 save percentage are the best in the NHL.
The Maple Leafs are not in as good of a position as the Bruins. However, they are still playing well. Toronto has a top-ten offense and a top-five offense. They also have a reliable goaltender in Ilya Samsonov. The Maple Leafs always have a chance to win when Samsonov is in the net.
William Nylander, Mitchell Marner, Auston Matthews, and John Tavares all lead the Maple Leafs. Matthews will miss this game with an injury, but Nylander, Marner, and Tavares will still be dangerous with the puck in their hands.
Ilya Samsonov has taken over the Maple Leafs’ starting goaltender spot. Samsonov is not as good as Linus Ullmark but is still quite reliable. The 25-year-old only allows 2.31 goals per game (the fifth-lowest in the league).
Toronto will be without Auston Matthews and facing an elite Bruins team, so I would not expect them to win. Bet on Boston.
The Bruins are the favorites but will only emerge victorious if they draw penalties and score first.
The Bruins have the NHL’s best offense but only scored one goal in their previous game against the Carolina Hurricanes. Their offense has been slow in the previous three games, but they can remedy that by drawing penalties. The Bruins have a top power-play unit and convert over 25% of their opportunities. If this unit gets on the ice a few times, they will score.
The Bruins must set the tone early and can do that by scoring first. Their odds of winning will increase significantly if they do, but more importantly, the momentum will turn in their favor. Boston must strike first.
The Maple Leafs are the underdogs but can win if they play pass-first hockey and make up for Auston Matthews’ absence.
The Maple Leafs have a slightly worse offense than the Bruins but can make up for it by passing the puck more than expected. They may be able to stifle the Bruins’ defensemen if the puck is always moving.
As I have mentioned a couple of times above, Auston Matthews will miss this game with an injury. Matthews suffered a knee sprain a week ago, which will force him to miss All-Star Weekend. This loss is significant for the Maple Leafs, but they can make up for it if each player does a little more than expected. If the wingers and centers alone take on a little more responsibility, the Maple Leafs will be in a good position.
David Krejci is a surprising pick, but I will explain why I chose him. The 36-year-old is in the back half of his career but is still an efficient shooter. Krejci only has 12 goals but scores on over 17% of his shots. To put it simply, Krejci takes advantage of his opportunities.
Krejci must continue taking advantage of his opportunities this game and may end up with goal #13.
John Tavares is having an excellent season but is playing in the shadow of Auston Matthews. Tavares only has two fewer points than Matthews but is talked about much less. Regardless, he will be Toronto’s top center in this game. He must take advantage of that and increase his shot output.
What - Boston Bruins vs Toronto Maple Leafs
Where - Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Ontario
When - Wednesday, February 1, 7:30 PM EST
How to Watch - NHLPP, ESPN+
Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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