by OddsShark (@OddsShark)
The combination of a slow start and January blahs have the Toronto Maple Leafs outside of the playoff picture and well down in the Stanley Cup odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
At the all-star break, the Maple Leafs have a 25-17-7 record for 57 points from 49 games, which puts them both four points behind the Florida Panthers for the final Atlantic Division playoff spot and four behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the final Eastern Conference wild card berth. Over 82 games, that works out to a 95.4-point pace, putting the Maple Leafs under their preseason point prop of 101.5.
On the positive side, center Auston Matthews has 34 goals and is threatening to become Toronto’s first 50-goal scorer since Dave Andreychuk in 1993-94. Right wing Mitch Marner, despite missing time with injuries, is in the NHL’s top 10 in points per game (1.24) and assists per game (0.89), while right wing William Nylander has already matched his career most in goals (22) and is on a pace for a career high in points (43 in 49 games). The Maple Leafs are also fourth in the 31-team NHL in goals scored (3.57) and have a fifth-ranked power play (24.4 percent).
However, a 9-10-4 start led to Mike Babcock being replaced as coach by Sheldon Keefe on November 20. Toronto improved under Keefe but went 1-3-2 in its final six games before the all-star break to fall out of a playoff position. Various injuries to Marner, center John Tavares, left wing Trevor Moore and left wing Ilya Mikheyev have compromised Toronto’s offensive depth. On the back end, cornerstone defensemen Morgan Rielly (foot) and Jake Muzzin (foot) have also been sidelined, further compromising a group that is 27th, or fifth-last, in goals-against (3.29). Goaltender Frederik Andersen earned an all-star game selection with a 22-9-6 record, 2.89 goals-against average and .909 save percentage, but hasn’t had many low-shot games or nights off.
The Maple Leafs are now a +1500 darkhorse on the Stanley Cup odds at sports betting sites after opening at +950 in the summer. Atlantic rival Tampa Bay Lightning (+800), Washington Capitals (+800), Boston Bruins (+900), Pittsburgh Penguins and defending champion St. Louis Blues (+900) are at the top of the futures board, along with the Colorado Avalanche (+1000) and Dallas Stars (+1400). The Maple Leafs could still be a value play on those NHL odds, assuming they get healthy by the playoffs and recover the form they showed in their first weeks under Keefe.
Toronto starts the home stretch of the regular season with road games against the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars on Monday and Wednesday.