NHL picks: 4 best bets for Canadiens vs Leafs
Our NHL expert has picked out his four best bets as the Montreal Canadiens visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.
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Toronto Maple Leafs to win
The Canadiens still haven’t technically clinched a playoff spot, and after getting beaten 5-1 by the Senators on Wednesday night, they’ve got to turn right back around and face a team that has been a menace to them all season.
The Maple Leafs have won five of the seven previous meetings between the two clubs, though Montreal did manage a 3-2 OT win in the last contest.
The biggest factor here is Toronto is coming off of two days with no games, while Montreal is turning around to play the second half of a back-to-back. Their record isn’t terrible in that situation, though, as they’re 4-5-1 in 10 previous games playing on no rest - there are plenty of teams out there with a worse record than that. Still, the fact that it’s Toronto on the other side does make a difference.
Montreal started Jake Allen on Wednesday, so there’s at least a good chance rookie Cayden Primeau gets the nod tonight. It’s a tough spot for the young netminder to be in with the offensive attack Toronto can present.
Auston Matthews to score anytime
With six goals to date against Montreal, Matthews’ onslaught on the North Division could continue.
He’s sitting on 39 goals and you know he’d love to get his 40th sooner rather than later. He has goals in each of his last four games and has been taking no less than four shots on goal in each of his last eight games.
With his shot rates up over the last week, his ability to score only grows. He has one of the best shots in the NHL and it is a challenge for any goalie, let alone a rookie – if Primeau does start – to stop him.
Averaging 0.81 goals per game this season, Matthews’ 82-game scoring pace is 66 goals. He’s on another level right now and the chance to have 40 goals in this truncated season should increase that hunger for Matthews to find the back of the net.
Over 1.5 total power-play goals
There has been more than one power-play goal scored in just two of the previous seven contests between the two teams, but with Montreal on the second half of the back to back and Toronto on a bit more rest, I think this is a value play worth exploring.
In five games with two day’s rest, Toronto’s power play is humming along at a 33.3 per cent success rate. That is way ahead of their 21.1 per cent season average. Meanwhile, Montreal has the 22nd-ranked penalty kill in the league.
Neither team’s power play has been especially consistent at times this season, but I think this is the one I want to go out on a limb for.
Over 57.5 total shots on goal
In five of the previous seven meetings between the two teams, they have gone well over the 57.5 shots on goal threshold. It’s not a great value bet, but when paired with others it seems like a favorable throw-in.
With Matthews pushing for 40 goals and Montreal bringing up rookie shooting machine Cole Caufield, it should be a fun back and forth between both clubs, making for entertaining hockey and a lot of shots.
#BETYOURWAY: Toronto to win, Matthews to score anytime, over 1.5 power-play goals, over 57.5 total shots on goal
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