NHL Betting Preview (Mar 28): Capitals vs Maple Leafs Odds

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Nicholas Martin
21 days ago
Spencer Carbery and the Capitals will look to continue their pursuit of a stunning playoff berth Thursday. Washington’s high level of desperation was no match for the skill of the Leafs last week, as Auston Matthews and William Nylander had big nights in the Leafs’ 7-3 win in Washington.
I’ll outline the relevant game notes below, as well as hand out my best bet.

Capitals vs Maple Leafs Odds

  • Capitals Moneyline Odds: +122
  • Maple Leafs Moneyline Odds: -143
  • Puck Line Odds: Capitals +1.5 (-223), Maple Leafs -1.5 (+167)
  • Game Total: 6.5 goals (over -122, under +100)
Washington Capitals
The Capitals continue to be an interesting study in replacement value, as their form has improved considerably since the trade deadline.
They are 8-3-0 since the deadline, with the only losses coming against high-quality teams being Toronto, Winnipeg, and Edmonton. They have played to a goal differential of +6 in that time. Their expected goal share of 49.88% isn’t a positive note, but considering the tough schedule of opponents, that mark is actually better than we might have seen at other parts of the season.
It’s clear that Spencer Carbery is getting the absolute most out of his suddenly youthful side.
Hendrix Lapierre, Connor McMichael, and Ivan Miroshnichenko continue to take steps forward and have been the backbone of the Capitals’ recent push. Martin Fehervary is the Caps’ best left side defender, and having him back in the lineup helps cover for the loss of Joel Edmundson, as does Alexander Alexeyev offering steady play on the third unit.
Having one of the league’s very best goaltenders in Charlie Lindgren doesn’t hurt, either.
With Alex Ovechkin on fire, the Capitals have enjoyed a considerable surge offensively. They have scored 3.57 goals for over the last seven, with most of that coming in their 7-6 win over Carolina. Still, the Caps rank 27th this season with 2.73 goals for per game. While Ovechkin is back in form, and they are getting quality performances from their young forwards, it is still unlikely that they are a better-than-average side offensively at this point.
The M.O. for Carbery has always been to be defensive accountable first and foremost, and to look to create chances going the other way second. Two periods of the Caps’ critical matchup versus the Red Wings would agree with that take, before the game’s crazy finish leading to a 4-3 final.
Sonny Milano is a game-time decision, which does hold some relevance. He had been in excellent form before his injury, and all of his recent linemates had enjoyed far better control of the run of play with him than without him.
Charlie Lindgren is expected to start in goal for the Capitals. He has played to a +11.8 GSAx and .912 save % across 40 appearances.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto’s 6-3 loss versus the Devils was in several ways a take on the volatility of the NHL. Not only because a hot Toronto team loses to a non-playoff side at home, but because the final score obviously didn’t accurately tell the whole story. When the Devils play at their best, the talent on the roster is obviously better than their record. The Leafs obviously could have fared better than a 6-3 final, as well.
The Leafs’ lackadaisical defensive zone play was a concern in that matchup though, to be sure. Sheldon Keefe had the typical quotes you’ll hear from any coach after such a loss, and you know he will be demanding sharper attention to the team’s details defensively ahead of this matchup.
Analytically speaking, the Leafs have been a league-average side defensively since the All-Star break with a 3.18 xGA/60.
The fact that Toronto skated without top defender Morgan Rielly was a concern in Tuesday’s matchup. Rielly remained sidelined from the morning skate today and remains day-to-day.
The Leafs really aren’t playing for anything, as even if Tampa were to surpass them for third in the Atlantic, it might not even mean a worse matchup. One of the main things the team would love to have sorted is a Game One defensive lineup, but for the time being that process is on hold with Rielly out.
Here is how the Leafs’ defensive pairs looked at today’s morning skate:
McCabe – Liljegren
Brodie – Lyubushkin
Benoit – Timmins
The larger concern at morning skate was the fact that Auston Matthews was absent. He’s reportedly battling an illness, and is a game-time decision when it comes to tonight’s game.
Mitch Marner did take the morning skate and is likely close to returning, but will remain on the sidelines.
Joseph Woll has been confirmed as Toronto’s starter for this matchup. He has played to a +7.2 GSAx and .908 save % in 21 appearances.
Best Bets for Capitals vs Leafs
The Capitals will look to clog things up as much as possible and lean on Charlie Lindgren to hang around on the road here. That strategy didn’t work out for the Caps’ last time out versus Toronto, but it is the avenue in which Carbery’s crew has found success versus elite teams other times this year.
We have heard the noise from the Leafs and Keefe about the way the last game went, and it’s obvious to say less defensive accountability is going to be a theme ahead of this matchup.
The first period total of 1.5 is set with heavy juice to the over, with the under coming back at +118 on Betano. That’s a far better number than you will typically see for a first period to go under 1.5, and I do not believe this spot calls for it. No goal in the first ten minutes is also worthy of a play at +130.
Best Bets: 0.5 Units No Goal in First Ten +130 (Play to +125), 0.5 No Goal First Period +118 (Play to +113)

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