Senators vs. Maple Leafs NHL Pick – February 18, 2021

By | February 18, 2021
Pick: Senators +1.5
Odds: +108
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It was more or less a quiet night in the NHL on Wednesday with just five games on the schedule, but we’re back in action tonight with nine games on the NHL slate!

Let’s get in on the action with a Senators vs. Maple Leafs NHL pick in what marks the second half of a back-to-back and third meeting between the two clubs in four nights.

Senators vs. Maple Leafs Betting Odds

These odds are courtesy of the best online hockey betting sites.

Moneyline Spread Total
Senators (+282) Senators +1.5 (+108) Over 6.5 (-108)
Maple Leafs (-285) Maple Leafs -1.5 (-128) Under 6.5 (-102)

Senators vs. Maple Leafs NHL Pick Breakdown

Senators

The Senators have been the laughing stock of the North Division at times this season, but they’ve certainly given the division-leading Maple Leafs all they could handle.

SenatorsFor the first time in franchise history, the Senators marched back from a four-goal deficit to win Monday’s game by a 6-5 final, beating the Maple Leafs for the second time in three meetings in the process. While last night’s 2-1 loss doesn’t help much in the standings, the Sens carried the play for much of the first half of the game while it took a goal midway through the third for the Leafs to prevail in that one.

Ottawa hasn’t scored much this season as their 2.28 goals per game pegs them 29th in the league, but they’ve been able to generate five or more goals twice in four games against the Leafs, albeit while being held to two goals or less in the other two head-to-head contests.

According to the advanced metrics, however, it would appear the Senators are deserving of a far superior offensive fate than the surface stats would tell us.

At 5v5, the Senators rank fifth in scoring chances for/60, fourth in high-danger chances for/60 and third in expected goals for/60, according to Natural Stat Trick. Their actual 1.99 goals/60 on the season is below their 2.48 expected mark, so it appears the offseason overhaul of this forward group should be paying bigger dividends than it has to this point.

That said, a 27th-ranked 11.9% power play is certainly doing them no favors, but the Sens often win the scoring chance battle so far this season.

While the offense should positively regress, their defense has certainly held them back. They held a high-octane Maple Leafs offense to just two goals last night, but are averaging an NHL-worst 3.94 goals against per game on the season. Their 75% penalty kill (T-23rd) also isn’t helping matters.

Unlike the offense, the defensive metrics more or less add up to the surface results.

At 5v5 this season, the Sens rank 29th in scoring chances against/60, 28th in high-danger chances against/60 and 29th in expected goals against/60. Their actual 3.49 goals against/60 at 5v5 this season is well above their 2.59 expected mark, so while the defense should improve, it’s still one of the worst in the league.

Given the personnel on the back end, it’s not surprising. That said, Artem Zub has looked good in the early going, Thomas Chabot is a machine logging huge minutes and youngster Erik Brannstrom looked good in generating some scoring opportunities at the offensive end of the ice.

A big reason why the Senators have actual goals against numbers well above their expected mark revolves around the goaltending tandem of Matt Murray and Marcus Hogberg.

Murray has steadied his game of late and played well last night, but still owns a 3.55 GAA and .886 Sv% with a 2-8-1 record across 13 games.

For his part, Hogberg owns an atrocious 4.32 and .860 Sv% in nine outings of his own (six starts) and was the lucky winner on Monday despite surrendering five Maple Leafs goals through the first two periods of play.

We aren’t sure who will get the nod for the road side in the second half of the back-to-back tonight, but with the Senators sporting the league’s worst 5v5 save percentage at .888 on the season, reliable netminding has clearly been few and far between this season.

Maple Leafs

Another epic collapse on Monday was a far too familiar sight for Leafs fans, and while the win on Wednesday night helped ease the sting, it certainly wasn’t a thorough victory.

The Leafs looked tentative and looked to be playing more of a safe game rather than using their high-end skill to attack an inferior opponent.

Maple LeafsStill, with an NHL-high 26 points entering Thursday’s contest, it’s hard to criticize the club’s season to this point.

The Maple Leafs sit fourth in the league while averaging 3.53 goals per game on the season while their power play has clicked at 32.7%, good for a share of second place alongside the Chicago Blackhawks.

At the same time, the Maple Leafs have been held to two goals or less in two of their last three and are just 1 for 10 over their last five games on the man advantage.

The advanced metrics have the Maple Leafs within the league’s top seven in all of scoring chances for/60, high-danger chances for/60 and expected goals for/60, although their 2.82 goals/60 at 5v5 this season is well above their 2.38 expected mark.

While the offense has once again been an asset, the Maple Leafs’ defensive game has seemingly improved after an offseason overhaul of that blueline.

The team brought in right-side defenders T.J. Brodie and Zach Bogosian on the free-agent market while the yeoman’s work of fellow right-side rearguard Justin Holl has been a major boon to the defense’s new-found success.

Overall, the Maple Leafs rank ninth while allowing just 2.65 goals per game on the season, although their penalty kill has been mediocre with a 19th-ranked 79.3% mark so far.

While the underlying metrics more or less add up for the offense, the defense is a different story.

While the eye-test shows improvement, the Maple Leafs rank 23rd in scoring chances against/60 and high-danger chances against/60 while checking in at 22nd in expected goals against/60 at 5v5 this season. They’ve allowed 1.93 goals/60 at 5v5 this season, a number below their 2.30 expected mark.

Take the advanced stats how you will, but they certainly suggest at least some regression from this group moving forward.

Like with the visitors, we don’t know who Sheldon Keefe will go to in goal for this one tonight. Had the Leafs not blown that comfy lead on Monday, the easy choice would be to go to current backup (but original third-stringer) Michael Hutchinson who has not seen game action since the 2020 postseason while with the Colorado Avalanche.

However, perhaps Keefe goes back to Frederik Andersen who bounced back nicely with a 27-save winning effort after allowing six goals on 31 shots on Monday.

If it’s Andersen, he’ll carry a 2.67 GAA and .905 Sv% into action while boasting an NHL-best 10 victories on the season.

However, I have a suspicion it will be Hutchinson given Andersen has made 11 consecutive starts for the team given the week-to-week lower-body injury to backup Jack Campbell.

Hutchinson played well in four postseason appearances for the Avalanche, turning in a 2.75 GAA and .910 Sv%. However, he spent much of the season with the Maple Leafs, posting a 3.66 GAA and .886 Sv% in 15 appearances.

With a key matchup with the Canadiens on tap for Saturday, I would suggest Keefe gets Andersen some rest and gives tonight’s nod to the backup.

Senators vs. Maple Leafs NHL Pick

These two teams have played four times this season with three of those games being decided by a single goal. Ottawa has fared better against Toronto than any other team in the North this season, and they are seemingly in for an increase in offense at even strength.

For the Leafs

They eeked out a win over the last-place Sens on Wednesday despite what was largely a lackluster effort while Andersen kept them alive in that one with some early saves that allowed Toronto to find its legs later on in the contest.

The youthful Sens should have their legs again tonight while the Maple Leafs’ older group may not be sharp as they certainly weren’t for much of last night’s win.

Hogberg is a major question mark in goal, but Hutchinson is as well while the latter hasn’t played a game since Sept. 4 in the Edmonton playoff bubble.

While the over 6.5 seems like a fair play here, I’m going to grab some more value with the Senators +1.5 on the puckline given how these two teams have matched up this season.

Senators +1.5 (+108)
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