MATCHUP AT A GLANCE
When: Saturday, October 19, 2019 at 7:00 PM
Where: Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Cananda
Point Spread: Toronto Maple Leafs -120
Betting Total: 6.5
The Boston Bruins will travel to Toronto to face the Maple Leafs Saturday in a rematch of their first-round playoff series from this past spring. The Bruins defeated the Leafs in seven games in that series as well as the season before.
Bruins Off to Fast Start
The Bruins have shown no signs of wear and tear after going to the Stanley Cup Final last season and playing seven games before losing to the St. Louis Blues. The Bruins are 5-1-1 and in second place in the Atlantic Division, two points behind the surprising Buffalo Sabres who sit at 13 points.
Boston’s last game came on Thursday night and they lost in a shootout to the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3. David Pastrnak scored two goals in the loss to bring his season total to eight on the season. Pastrnak is second in the NHL in goals scored with his eight.
A lot of the Bruins’ success early on has been because of the play between the pipes. Tukka Rask is 3-0-1 with a .946 save percentage and a goals against of 1.72, good for fifth in the NHL. Rask’s backup, Jaroslav Halak, has been just as good, posting a record of 2-1-0 with a .951 save percentage and a goals against of 1.69, good for fourth in the league.
Boston is going to be playing with their first taste of adversity on the young season as they will be without forwards David Krejci and Joakim Nordstrom, who are both battling upper-body injuries and did not travel with the team.
Patrice Bergeron’s status is in doubt as well, as he did not practice Friday after blocking a shot in the loss to Tampa. Head Coach Bruce Cassidy did say that he expected Bergeron to play, but was not 100% sure since he did not practice.
Leafs Players Have Opportunity with Tavares Out
The Toronto Maple Leafs come into play with a record of 4-3-1, good for nine points and fourth place in the Atlantic Division, but just four points behind division leader Buffalo. Toronto’s last game came on Wednesday when the Leafs lost to the Washington Capitals 4-3.
Kasperi Kapanen had a goal and two assists in the loss, while goaltender Michael Hutchinson made 28 saves. It was the second of a back-to-back for Toronto, who has a record of 0-2-0 in the second game of a back-to-back this season.
John Tavares added a goal in the game and then suffered a broken finger as he was hit in the right hand with a shot. He will miss two weeks and the rest of the Maple Leafs will need to step up in his absence. The likely shift in lines will include Auston Matthews centering a line with Andreas Johnsson and William Nylander.
Matthews leads the team in goals with seven. This total is good for third in the league. It will be interesting to see how teams key on him without Tavares to fall back on.
Part of Toronto’s issues this season are coming in the area of shots allowed. Toronto has allowed the fifth most shots on goal with 34.6 pucks per game being put on net.
Hutchinson’s goals against is 3.97 and Frederik Andersen’s is 3.14. Andersen has a save percentage of just .893. The defense and the goaltenders will need to be better if Toronto wants to take the next step.
Betting Lines and Predictions
MyBookie has a moneyline on this game of Toronto -120. Boston is +100 in the game. The spread is Toronto -1.5 and the over/under is 6.5. I believe the over is in play here as the Bruins are beaten up up front. The Leafs should be able to move the puck in the neutral zone which will lead to scoring chances. Take the Leafs in this one.