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The Vancouver Canucks (34-23-6) will continue on their four-game road trip when they take on the Toronto Maple Leafs (34-23-8). They’re slated for a Saturday night game, with puck drop at 6 pm in Toronto. These teams only share their nationality, as they reside in different divisions and conferences. The Leafs currently sit at 3rd in the Atlantic Division and tie for 7th in the Eastern Conference with 76 points, while the Canucks are tied for 2nd in the Pacific Division and 5th in the West with 74 points. This will be the second and final meeting these teams have during the regular season, with their previous match taking place on December 10th of last year. In that game, the Canucks got just one shy of 40 shots on goal but were only able to convert one into an actual goal. The Leafs had more than ten fewer shots but still won 4-1.
Canucks Hope To Recover From Surprising LossThe Canucks are in a do-or-die situation, as most teams in the league are at this point. If a team is comfortable and content with their position in the final quarter of the season, then something is either going amazingly right or horribly, horribly wrong. Neither is the case for the Canucks, as they are very aware of their situation. Being tied with the Oilers means that they can’t afford to lose a game. The second-place slot they’re in means that they still need to fight to get to the top of the Pacific. And, just a single point behind them sits the Calgary Flames, primed to overtake either of the second-place Pacific Teams. Unfortunately for the Canucks, they go into their Saturday matchup off of a loss that shouldn’t have happened. There’s no such thing as a guaranteed win in the NHL, but the Canucks had nearly every advantage on their side when they faced off against the Ottawa Senators. Most of their problems came from one Senator in particular, who scored three of Ottawa’s goals in the 5-2 loss. Vancouver did have the shot advantage in the game, even if the goals didn’t reflect that. They put 34 shots on net as opposed to Ottawa’s 25. Closing out the first period was a fight between the Sen’s Bobby Ryan (who was the owner of the hat trick later in the game) and the Canucks’ Christopher Tanev. The Canucks’ two goals were space out, with one in the second period and the other in the third. The first goal came from J.T. Miller, who scored with just 16 seconds left in the second period. His goal came on one of two Vancouver powerplays. The second goal came from Tyler Toffoli, who continues to prove himself an asset to his new team. In net for the Canucks was Thatcher Demko, who allowed four goals on 24 shots for a .833 save percentage.
Leafs Look To Continue Winning StreakThe Leafs, amidst injuries and struggles, still continue to win and hold onto their position in the Atlantic. While not quite as cutthroat as the Metropolitan Division, it’s no easy task to hold a top-three spot anywhere in the NHL, and the Leafs have succeeded in that for some time now. They’re still a little under ten points from tying the number two team in their division, and it's unlikely they or many other teams are going to catch up to the number one team- the Boston Bruins. They are in a good position at the moment, though, with the next closest team sitting four points behind them in the standings. They go into their game against the Canucks on a two-game winning streak that they’d love to stretch into three. Their most recent victory was over the team sitting one place behind them in the Atlantic, the Florida Panthers. The final score was 5-3 in the Leafs’ favor, though six of the eight goals scored that night occurred during the first twenty minutes of play. The teams ended the period tied 3-3, with every one of them being from five-on-five play. The goal scorers for Toronto in that period were Zach Hyman, Kasperi Kapanen, and Auston Matthews. Matthews and Hyman also assisted each others’ goals. The other two Leafs goals came a little over ten minutes apart in the third period. They came from William Nylander and Justin Holl. Holl helped out earlier in the game on Hyman’s goal. Between the pipes for the Leafs was Frederik Andersen, who saved 24 of 27 shots for a .889 save percentage.
- The Leafs are 9-1-1 when scoring first at home.
- The Leafs are 17-9-3 overall when outshooting their opponent.
- The Canucks are 8-12-1 when their opponent scores first on the road.
- The Canucks are 3-5 overall in one-goal games.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Leafs have a stronger momentum going into this game, as well as one other advantage. It’s easy to see that the Leafs are in a much more difficult division this season. The Pacific is collectively the lowest ranking division in the league, from the bottom to the top. That means that the Leafs are used to facing a much higher caliber of opponents than the Canucks. On top of that, after a string of recent embarrassments from Toronto, they’ll have to be playing with a fire under their butts, and not just because of how hard they have to work to keep their position in the Atlantic. These are two very skilled teams, but the Leafs have slightly more drive and focus than the Canucks going into this particular game.
Prediction: Toronto Maple Leafs
Full-Game Total Pick
This match is between two of the highest-scoring teams in the league. Out of the 31 teams, the Leafs are ranked 2nd and the Canucks are ranked 7th in goals scored per game. These are two young, fast teams that play a very 2020 style of hockey, meaning they rely more on their lightning-fast offense than a solid defense. In fact, defense is the area where both of these teams struggle. So, in pitting two teams that are good at finding the back of the net against each other, there’s a recipe for the game going over.