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Odds Taken from FanDuel Sportsbook
New Jersey Devils beat Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3
New Jersey Devils cover
Over 6.5 goals
New Jersey Devils
Toronto Maple Leafs
13-3-0 (1st in Metropolitan Division)
9-5-3 (2nd in Atlantic Division)
Jesper Bratt (21)
Mitchell Marner (19)
Nico Hischier (8)
John Tavares (9)
Jesper Bratt (15)
Mitchell Marner (15)
Jonas Siegenthaler (16)
Mark Giordano (6)
Jack Hughes (4.38)
Shots (Per Game)
John Tavares (3.41)
The New Jersey Devils will cross the border to face the Toronto Maple Leafs in an Eastern Conference battle. The Devils were one of the worst teams last season and well out of the Playoff picture. However, they wiped the slate clean this year and are the second-best team in the NHL. New Jersey may be the hottest team in hockey right now and is on a ten-game winning streak. The Maple Leafs are also playing well but not on a ten-game winning streak. Toronto has won their last two games and five of their last seven.
The Devils have an insanely talented offense and average 3.75 goals per game. Their defense has also been holding it down and only allows 2.44 goals per game on 24.5 shots. If that was not enough, the Devils’ goaltending duo of Vitek Vanecek and Mackenzie Blackwood allows well below 2.5 goals per game. New Jersey will likely look to Vanecek as Blackwood is dealing with an MCL sprain.
I could talk about many impressive Devils’ players, but I will only stick to their top three. This list is limited to Jesper Bratt, Jack Hughes, and Nico Hischier. Jesper Bratt is off to a hot start and has six points and 15 assists. Bratt is also coming off a one-goal, one-assist game against the Montreal Canadiens. Jack Hughes has become a shooting machine this year. The 2019 first-overall pick has taken 70 shots in 16 games and is coming off a two-goal game. All three of these players are excellent, but Nico Hischier may be the most well-rounded. Hischier has eight goals, nine assists, and a +/- of 13.
As I mentioned before, Mackenzie Blackwood is out with an MCL sprain. This means that Vitek Vanecek will get a lot more playing time. Vanecek has stepped up and has become a brick wall. The 26-year-old allows 2.18 goals per game and has a .915 save percentage.
The Maple Leafs are playing solid hockey, but their offense sometimes struggles. Toronto has scored three goals or less in five of their last six games. The Maple Leafs’ wingers and centers need to become more consistent and put the puck in the back of the net more often.
The Maple Leafs look to Mitchell Marner, John Tavares, William Nylander, and Auston Matthews for leadership. These four players have 17 points or more and are playing at least 17 minutes a game. The rest of the teams will look for them to set the tone today.
Ilya Samsonov and Erik Kallgren make up the Maple Leaf’s goaltending duo. Both netminders are playing well, but Samsonov is the better player. Samsonov has a .921 save percentage, compared to Kallgren’s save percentage of .893.
The Devils have an electric offense and a ton of momentum from their ten-game winning streak. They will push their streak to 11 today.
The Devils are the underdogs but can continue their win streak if they limit the Maple Leafs’ shots and score the first goal.
The Maple Leafs average almost three goals per game on 31.5 shots. Toronto does not have a consistent offense, but they can score and put five pucks in the back of the net in their previous game. The Devils’ defensemen must play tough defense and limit their shots.
The Devils are on the road and entering the very loud Scotiabank Arena. Maple Leaf's fans are known for being quite loud, so the Devils must quiet them by scoring the first goal.
The Maple Leafs are favored to win but will only do so if they play aggressive hockey and draw penalties.
The Maple Leafs must come out with intense energy and an aggressive style. They need to lay out some big hits and shoot a lot in the first ten minutes. The crowd will get on their side and give them momentum if they do.
The Maple Leafs do not have the best power play unit in the league, but they convert over 25% of their game. Since Toronto finds itself successful over ¼ of the time, they need to draw as many penalties as possible.
I rarely pick a goaltender as the key player, but with Mackenzie Blackwood’s injury, Vitek Vanecek will likely get the start. Vanecek played all 60 minutes in the Devils’ last game and saved 25 of 26 shots. The Czech netminder must continue playing at this elite level in today’s game.
Michael Bunting is having a quiet season but coming off a two-goal, one-assist game. Bunting has momentum and needs to take it into this matchup. His momentum makes him the Maple Leafs’ x-factor.
Bunting has an opportunity to be the reason behind a Maple Leafs’ victory. He just has to take advantage of the opportunity.
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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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