NHL Matchup: Maple Leafs vs Bruins Predictions

The unofficial first half of the NHL season concludes on February 1st with a monster clash as the Boston Bruins head north of the border to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs. It is a battle between Original Six powerhouses as the Bruins remain on pace to take out all-time league wins and points records while the Maple Leafs sit tied for second in the Eastern Conference and perhaps have the second or third-best team in the league.

Unfortunately, the game will not include Maple Leafs superstar forward Auston Matthews as he will rest his sprained knee until mid-February. The Leafs will miss him of course as he has scored 25 goals in his 47 games to go with 28 assists and a 66.2% GF% (Goals For/Goals Against while on ice in 5 on 5 situations) but the cupboard hardly remains bare without him. William Nylander leads the Leafs in scoring with 31 goals to go with his 26 assists while Mitch Marner has added 18 goals and 39 assists. John Taveras has chipped in 21 goals and 27 assists as well.

NHL Matchup: Maple Leafs vs Bruins Predictions

The Leafs are not getting much offense from the back line as Morgan Rielly has missed time and yet to find the net this season. Mark Giordano leads Leaf defensemen with 17 points on three goals and 14 assists while Timothy Liljegren has added four goals and has a 69.05% GF%.

Primary goalie Ilya Samsonov has had an excellent season, posting a .922 Save%, fifth in the league among goalies who have played at least 15 games, in addition to a 2.2 Goals Against per game which is second best. He saves .691 goals per 60 minutes above expected, again second best among netminders.

The Leafs as a team score 57.22% of the goals in 5 on 5 situations, fifth in the league, and have an expected Goals percentage of 54.16%, good for fourth best. They are an excellent team, even missing one of their top players.

They would be favored at home against just about everyone else in the NHL, with the possible exception of the Bruins. Massachusetts residents will be able to wager on the game as sportsbooks are set to open at 10AM on January 31st in three locations; the MGM Springfield Casino, Encore Boston Harbor Casino, and Plainridge Park Casino. The state expects to allow online sportsbooks to start taking bets in early March. State residents aged 21 and over can sign up now and take advantage of various Massachusetts sports betting promos. Sign up, make at least the minimum deposit and place a bet. If the wager hits, collect the proceeds. If it misses, the book replaces the funds lost with free bets up to the amount of the loss, typically with a maximum of $1000.

The Leafs game will mark the fourth straight tough road contest for the Bruins, on the heels of games at Tampa Bay, Florida and Carolina. Barring a big slump, the Bruins will win the Presidents Trophy for the NHL’s best record as their 80 points are 12 ahead of their closest competitors, the Leafs and the Hurricanes. The Bruins are second in the league in goals per game at 3.77 and first in Goals against per game with 2.04, over half a goal per game better than the Dallas Stars in second place. They have the 3rd best power play % at 26.8% and are the best penalty killers at 86.4%. They dominate even more at even strength with a 64.09% GF% in 5 on 5 situations. Their top players are among the league leaders in GF%, including Brad Marchand at 75.6%, Patrice Bergeron at 73.68%, Matt Grzelcyk at 72.22% and Hampus Lindholm at 67.12%. In more traditional stats, David Pastrnak is second in the league in goals with 37 and Lindholm leads everyone with a +/- of +34.

The Bruins MVP is probably goalie Linus Ullmark. His .937 Save%, 1.86 GAA and .916 Goals Saved above expected per 60 minutes all lead the league.

No betting markets out yet for Bruins-Leafs, but these are always the most popular types of wagers in the NHL.

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Predictions

Moneyline

These are the single most common ways to wager on NHL games. It is just a straight bet on who will win the game. The Bruins figure to come in as a slight favorite, though it could really go either way. The following odds are out for Bruins at Panthers on January 28th:

Bruins -148 Panthers +128

A bettor would need to risk $148 on the Bruins to win $100, or conversely a $100 bet on the Panthers nets $128. The Panthers are a top 10 level team though underachieving their metrics a bit and on the playoff bubble heading into the home stretch. Bruins-Leafs could see both teams with minus money line odds.

Puck Lines

These carry goal spreads, always defaulting to -1.5. The Saturday game has Bruins -1.5 at +152, with Panthers +1.5 at -188. The money spread will likely tighten a little closer to game time. Assuming Bruins-Leafs is near even money, the Puck Line will see the -1.5 goal favorite priced at -200 or lower.

Totals

This is just a bet on the total of goals scored in the game. If it goes to overtime or shootout, it adds an extra goal and that is obviously a real consideration in a very close matchup. Most games see Totals at either 5.5, 6 or 6.5.

The Bruins-Panthers game carries a total of 6.5, with it tilted -122 on the over and +100 on the under. Expect the Bruins-Leafs game to carry either 5.5 or a 6 with minus odds on the under.

All in all it sets up as a terrific matchup to put a bow on a historic start to the Bruins season. The game will not ultimately mean that much as the Bruins spot in the standings looks pretty secure while the Leafs will almost definitely finish as a second or third seed overall in the East. The Leafs can drop to fourth and thus set up a potential second round matchup with the Bruins, but even then with no Mathews in the game and the fact that the teams have a week and a half off afterwards, it might not prove all that much.

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