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Maple Leafs Short Road Favorites, Looking for First Win Over Canadiens This Season

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The Leafs were 5-4 overtime winners vs Anaheim last night. Photo by @MapleLeafs (Twitter)
  • Montreal Canadiens have won two previous matchups this season
  • Toronto Maple Leafs acquired goaltender Jack Campbell and Kyle Clifford from the Los Angeles Kings earlier this week
  • Habs struggling to keep leads

Despite being 0-1-1 and on the road against the Montreal Canadiens tonight, the Maple Leafs vs Canadiens odds have Toronto favored over their longtime rivals in their third bout of the season. The Leafs head into tonight’s game having gone 4-4-2 in their last 10 games, while the Habs are 7-3-0. The two teams are separated in the standings by six points, making the outcome of these games increasingly valuable for both squads as they ready themselves for their respective playoff pushes.

Maple Leafs vs Canadiens Odds

Team Spread Moneyline Total at Bovada
Leafs -1 1/2 (+195) -115 O 6.5 (-115)
Canadiens +1 1/2 (-235) -105 U 6.5 (-105)

Odds taken February 8

Possession, Scoring Chances Factoring in Season Series

In their previous two contests, the Toronto Maple Leafs are 0-1-1 against the Canadians, despite having the superior roster. One of the biggest factors behind Montreal’s dominance over Toronto this season is their ability to out-possess and chance the Leafs. In advanced possession stats at five-on-five like Corsi-For (CF), Fenwick (FF), and on-net shots (SF), the Habs owned at least 54 percent of total shot attempts in those categories.

Among scoring (SCF) and high danger chances (HDCF), Montreal respectively accounted for 57 and 62 percent of total five-on-five attempts over both games. While the teams have fared relatively well in possession stats at five-on-five, the Habs rank no lower than fourth in any of the aforementioned categories this season, while the Leafs rank anywhere in the 6th-10th range.

Can Leafs Trade Pay Dividends?

Earlier this week, the Toronto Maple Leafs acquired goaltender Jack Campbell and forward Kyle Clifford from the Los Angeles Kings. Both players made their Leafs debuts last night in Toronto’s overtime win against the Anaheim Ducks. Campbell stopped 26 of 30 shots, while Clifford registered two shots on goal, three hits, and maintained percentages above 50 percent in advanced possession stats like Corsi-For (53.33), Fenwick (61.90), and on-net shots (50.00).

Being the second in a back-to-back, Campbell might not play tonight. Nonetheless, hopes are high both these players can continue having a positive impact as the Leafs brace for their playoff push. Getting their first win against the Habs this season would be a great way to build off the Maple Leafs debuts for Campbell and Clifford.

Habs Struggle at Keeping Leads, Despite Perfect Record Versus Leafs

Although the Habs have scored first in 30 of 56 games this season (tied for fourth-most in the league) and did so both their previous wins against Toronto, their ability to maintain leads has been problematic. When leading after the first period, the Habs have a .680 winning percentage, along with a .700 winning percentage when leading after two periods.

Those numbers respectively rank 24th and 28th among NHL teams. Yes, Montreal has been masterful against the Maple Leafs this season, but they seem to slow down as games progress. Toronto’s dynamic offense could take advantage of this factor tonight.

Best Bets

Regardless of how good or bad these teams are, it’s always worth tuning in when these two original six squads face off against each other. Given Montreal’s tendency to score first in games, taking them to do so tonight is a good way to get things going.

Although their previous two contests were low-scoring events, trends have changed for both teams since they last met. It might be worthwhile to take the over. With Montreal riding a lot of momentum going into tonight, they’re the best bet to take for winning outright.

The Pick: Montreal Canadiens (-105), Over 6.5 (-115)

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