NHL Betting Preview (Mar 20): Maple Leafs vs Capitals Odds

Photo credit:Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Nicholas Martin
21 days ago
The Leafs will look to respond to an ugly loss last night in Philadelphia, in this back-to-back spot versus a hot Washington Capitals side.
It’s a fairly common contention in the hockey world that the Capitals are not as strong as their record suggests. The fact that the Leafs are bigger favorite Wednesday than they were Tuesday, despite this being a road back-to-back spot, is a testament that oddsmakers still power-rate the Capitals below the Flyers by some margin.
I’ll outline the relevant game notes below, as well as hand out my best bet.

Maple Leafs vs Capitals Odds

  • Maple Leafs Moneyline Odds: -139
  • Flyers Moneyline Odds: +118
  • Puck Line Odds: Maple Leafs -1.5 (+170), Flyers +1.5 (-213)
  • Game Total: 6.5 goals (over +102, under -125)
Toronto Maple Leafs
Sheldon Keefe has to walk a fine-line as he prepares the Leafs for another important postseason run. Rival coaches have fully admitted the NHL can’t be a 100% effort league every night, and it doesn’t need to be for the Leafs right now. You also need to enter the playoffs playing at a high level though, and with a strong idea of what your “A” lineup is. it’s currently too unclear how the defensive pairings will look ahead of Game One.
Toronto has about a 70% chance of finishing third in the Atlantic. Even if somehow they don’t, falling into the Wildcard spot may not even be a bad thing. The Hurricanes and Panthers are likely the two best Eastern Conference teams, and both could easily finish second in their respective divisions. So barring a shocking run of wins or losses, the points are not very relevant at this point for the Leafs.
It seems now would be the right time to try shaking up the defensive pairings for Keefe. T.J. Brodie has fallen into a tough run of play, and is not finding much success alongside Morgan Rielly on the top pairing. At least seeing how things look with him playing a far lesser role is a good idea, and there are still seven NHL defenders to try finding strong combinations with.
The Leafs finally broke through on the man advantage last night versus a strong Flyers penalty kill, but their recent form is still concerning. That problem is a lesser concern for the time being though, as regardless of how things go right now, Mitch Marner is always going to take on a key role when he returns.
Joseph Woll has been confirmed as the Leafs starter in this matchup. He has played to a +7.9 GSAx and .911 save % across 18 games played.
Washington Capitals
Now that the Caps’ are back in a playoff spot (on points %), we have heard much more debate about how on earth they are hanging around in the race. Many people have pointed out their -30 goal differential, which makes an obvious case they aren’t as good as their record suggests. As does a 16-2-9 record in one goal games.
The important thing when handicapping today’s game though, is evaluating what a team is at this moment.
Since the All-Star break the Capitals own a positive goal differential of +4 across 20 games. They have played to a 51.74% expected goal share in even strength play over that span. Charlie Lindgren has been unsustainably dominant in goal, but the team is still playing better hockey now than it was earlier on this season.
They have been betting underdogs in 17-of-20 games since the All-Star break. They have put up a 9-6-2 record in those matchups, which is obviously a highly profitable mark when getting well past +100 on each bet.
The Capitals lost Anthony Mantha and Joel Edmundson at the deadline. They have played a number of recent matchups without T.J. Oshie and Tom Wilson. The value of those bigger names are likely being overvalued though, when you consider the replacement level of the skaters coming in.
Edmundson was not performing at an above average level for the Caps’ this season at all. Having Martin Fehervary healthy again, as well as youngster Alex Alexeyev back in the lineup, has completed mitigated his loss. Mantha leaves a more significant hole, but Ivan Miroshnichenko and a now healthy Sonny Milano have helped to plug that loss as well.
The Caps’ current roster weaknesses do not revolve around a lack of depth at all. They still have mainly competent NHL skaters, and many of their better pieces have actually even been Hershey Bears fill-ins who are now getting a legitimate opportunity. What they don’t have, is superstar skaters to match a team like Toronto. Spencer Carbery deserves a ton of credit for the well organized play of his side, and the way he is bringing along all of the Capitals young talents this season.
Charlie Lindgren has been confirmed as the Capitals starter in this matchup. He has played to a +14.0 GSAx and .915 save % across 36 appearances.
Best Bets for Leafs vs Capitals
The Capitals are still slightly better than oddsmakers are suggesting ahead of this matchup. They have been undervalued several times over the last few weeks, as the fact that the replacements for the skaters that are no longer with the team aren’t offering lesser play continues to be underrated. Their control of the overall run of play has improved, and Lindgren is one of the hottest goalies in the league.
We will likely see Keefe get a response from the Leafs in this matchup though, and they have proven to have legitimate defensive upside over the last two months. This should set up to be a well contested game by both sides, and I think there is a good chance we see close score-lines throughout.
At Betano’s current price of +118 I see enough value for a small play on the underdog Capitals. Backing the game to go past regulation at +325 is also worth a look.
Best Bets: Regulation Tie +325, Capitals Moneyline +118

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