Toronto Maple Leafs vs NY Islanders NHL Odds, Prediction
The Leafs enter Thursday’s game coming off one of their best defensive performances of the season. The Leafs beat the Florida Panthers 1-0 on Tuesday night, behind a 40 save effort from goaltender Frederik Andersen. Auston Matthews netted the lone goal of the game to increase his season total to 27 or 0.52 per game (fourth best in the league). Since entering the league last season, no player in the NHL has more even-strength goals than Matthews.
The Islanders should be well-rested going into Thursday’s game. The Islanders last play a matinee game on Monday, losing 5-3 to the Minnesota Wild at home. The loss has the Islanders sitting one point out of the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference with 21 games to play. However, their lack of stability between the pipes this season could send the team reeling down the stretch.
Splitting their last ten meetings with five wins apiece, the Islanders and Maple Leafs recent history looks competitive at first glance but is a mixed-bag when diving deeper into the results. The Leafs have won the last two games in their series, outscoring the Islanders 12-1. The Leafs average margin of victory in their last five wins over the Islanders is 3.4 goals.
The Leafs also enter Thursday game owning a three-game home winning streak against New York. Their last loss at home against the Isles came back in December 2015. Between 2010 and 2015, the Leafs were just 3-5-2 at home against the Islanders.
The biggest hindrance to the Islanders entering this game (and overall for much of the season) is their lack of goaltending. The Islanders are just one of two to allow more than 200 goals at this point of the season, and they rank last giving up 3.59 goals and 36.11 shots per game.
The Islanders are expected to start Jaroslav Halak in net on Thursday. Halak is hitting new levels of futility this season, allowing 3.22 GAA (43 of 49 qualifying goaltenders) this season. His save percentage of .911 is not quite as bad. However, when the team in front of you allows the most shots per game, a below average save percentage amounts to a lot of goals scored.
Quick aside, the Islanders’ other goaltender, Thomas Greiss, is even worse than Halak, ranking 49 out of 49 with a GAA of 3.84 and ranking 48 out of 49 with a save percentage of .891.
The Maple Leafs should counter Halak with Frederik Andersen. Andersen was absolutely sensational on Tuesday, making 40 saves en route to his fifth shutout of the seasons (a new career high). Andersen shutout the New York Islanders the last time he faced them, making 28 saves to start this Maple Leafs home winning streak.
Despite the shutout, Andersen only sports a .906 save percentage against the Islanders in his career and has given up 15 goals in his other five appearances. Despite allowing 15 goals, Andersen’s team picked up a point in four of the other five games.
The Islanders are the type of team the Leafs handle well. They lack depth and skill on the blue line and if they cannot score they rarely win. When scoring four goals or more, the Islanders are 22-4-2. When scoring three goals or less, they are just 7-22-4. With Andersen’s hot play, a defence building confidence and an offence capable of generating plenty of opportunities and shots on net, the Leafs should stretch their home winning streak to eight games.
After winning 1-0 on Tuesday night, the Maple Leafs should see plenty more goals in their game on Thursday against the Islanders. The Islanders rank third in the NHL, averaging 3.33 goals per game, while the Leafs slip down to fifth (after scoring just one goal on Tuesday), averaging 3.31.
While the Islanders like to shoot the puck, they also allow a lot of goals. The Islanders lead the NHL in over totals, going 37-21-3 this season. Considering the average Islanders game features 6.92 goals, it makes sense they lead the league as the average goals in a game is 5.70 this season.
The Leafs had a slow offensive night on Tuesday, which was expected, after playing back-to-back games on the road. Their offence should rebound against the lowly Islanders defence. Matthews has four goals in four games against the Islanders, while no two players in the NHL have combined for more goals (60) than John Tavares and Anders Lee of the Islanders.
With the potent offences of both teams and the lack of success from the Islanders goaltenders this season (despite two shutouts last week), wager on the over on Thursday night.
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