Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: Bruins vs. Maple Leafs (2/1/2023) - Taking Vegas

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Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: Bruins vs. Maple Leafs (2/1/2023)

By TakingVegas Staff Writer
February 1, 2023
Photo by: NHL.com

Boston Bruins vs Toronto Maple Leafs (2/1 @ 7:30 PM EST)

Puck Line: Bruins -1.5
Money Line: Bruins -120 / Maple Leafs +100
Total: 5.5

Overview and Betting Info

The Boston Bruins (38-7-5) head for Toronto on Wednesday night to take on the Maple Leafs (31-12-8) in a showdown of two of the East’s top teams. They have met twice this season, with the home team winning in both games. The Bruins sit atop the Eastern Conference standings with 81 points, while the Leafs are third with 70.

The Bruins are 31-19 against the spread this season and have covered 15 of their 26 home games. They have gone over the total 21 times in their 46 games.

The Maple Leafs are 21-30 versus the spread and have only covered ten of their 28 road games. They have gone over the total in 21 of their 48 games.

Boston Bruins

Boston enters this game with a comfortable lead in the East despite losing their last three games. Their dominance all season has come apart recently, averaging just two goals per game. One reason for their success has been their play on the road, where they are 16-6-2. They have struggled a bit more against Atlantic opponents, going 8-4-3. They are third in the NHL in goals (3.7) and first in goals allowed (2.12). They are also fifth in power play percentage (25.8%) and first in penalty kill percentage (86.2%). They’ve struggled with penalties, as they are ninth in the NHL in penalty minutes.

Boston’s group of forwards is led by David Pastrnak (38 G, 33 A), who is fifth in the NHL in points (31) and second in goals. He struggled in their loss against the Canes on Sunday and will be looking to bounce back. The Bruins have a ton of support behind Pastrnak, including Brand Marchand (16 G, 30 A, 46 points), David Krejci (12 G, 29 A, 41 points), and Patrice Bergeron (18 G, 20 A, 38 points). All three have struggled during the team’s losing streak, combing for three points in the three games. Marchand is the most stunning of the group, as the forward is in the midst of his best month of the season. He had a goal and an assist in their two games against the Leafs, so we expect him to bounce back on Wednesday.

The Bruins’ defense has been great, led by blueliners Charlie McAvoy (4 G, 27 A), Hampus Lindholm (6 G, 26 A), and Matt Grzelcyk (+29). McAvoy and Lindholm are important offensive pieces, while Grzelcyk is a lockdown defender. Grzelcyk is the only one of the group to have registered a point against the Leafs this season. The league’s top goalie, Linus Ullmark (25-4-1, 1.90 GA/G, .936% SV%), is their anchor between the pipes. He leads the league in goals against, saves percentage, and wins. As big as this game is, Ullmark may not make the start after allowing six goals and losing twice in their last two games. If he doesn’t start, look for Jeremy Swayman (12-3-4, 2.3 GA/G, .914 SV%) to fill in once again. The goalie has been fantastic this month, going 5-1 while saving 94.4% of shots and averaging 1.66 goals allowed. The numbers are excellent, but he is coming off a four-goal performance in his last start against the middling Panthers.

Toronto Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs have won five of their last seven and are looking for a critical victory against a division rival. They’ve been fantastic at home, going 20-4-4 in the friendly confines of Scotiabank Arena. They have also had some difficulty against the competitive Atlantic division, going 7-4-2. The Leafs are eighth in the league in scoring (3.39 GF/G), fourth in assists (308), and seventh in power play percentage (24.7%). The defense has been even better, ranking fifth in goals allowed (2.63 GA/GP) and ninth in shots allowed (1,330). Their penalty kill unit has hurt them this season, ranking sixteenth (79.2%).

A group of four stars has led Toronto’s offensive success this season. The group includes William Nylander (28 G, 31 A), Mitchell Marner (18 G, 41 A), Auston Matthews (25 G, 28 A), and John Tavares (21 G, 30 A). Nylander and Marner lead the team in points with 59 each. Nylander is currently on a seven-game point streak, scoring six goals and six assists. Marner has been almost as good, with 17 points and two game-winning goals in January. The group will be without Auston Matthews, as the team placed him on injured reserve with a knee injury. He’s the team’s second-leading scoring and torched Boston for three goals in two games this season, making this a massive loss. They have gotten a boost from the play of John Tavares, who has two goals and six points in their last four games (1 G, 5 A).

Toronto’s defense has been fantastic this season, led by the top pairing of Morgan Rielly (1 G, 21 A) and T.J. Brodie ( 2 G, 7 A). Brodie missed most of November and January with injuries, but returned for their last game, adding an assist in a 5-1 win against the Caps. Mark Giordano (3 G, 15 A), Justin Holl (2 G, 8 A), Rasmus Sandin (3 G, 13 A), and Timothy Lilijegren (4 G, 9 A, +22) have been good on the second and third line, giving them plenty of depth. Ilya Samsonov is projected to get the start with Matt Murray out. The goalie is 17-5-2 on the season, allowing 2.31 goals per game and saving 91.7% of their shots. In November, he started in their win against Boston, allowing one goal before being pulled due to injury.

Free Pick: Bruins ML -120

The absence of Auston Matthews is a significant factor in Wednesday’s showdown, and the odds reflect it. While his fellow stars faltered, he scored three of their five goals against the Bruins this season. Tavares has been fantastic lately, but he’s more of a facilitator than a shooter. As tempting as the Leafs’ money line may be, we don’t see them having enough to build a lead against the Bruins.

We also think Boston is due to break this three-game slump. They had not lost back-to-back games before this, making it hard to imagine them heading into the All-Star break with a four-game losing streak. They are in the top three of most of the major categories and have one of the league’s top scorers and the best goalie duo. They are a deep team that has dominated the East all season, and that continues Wednesday.

We’re taking the Bruins to win on Wednesday.

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