San Jose at Toronto NHL Betting Preview & Expert Pick

Posted by Jordan Walters on Wednesday,January 3, 2018 6:43, EDT in

The San Jose Sharks and Toronto Maple Leafs are somewhat in the same boat this season and in the NHL betting predictions as well: chasing a dominant team in their own division. The Sharks make their only visit of the season to hockey-mad Toronto on Thursday night. Check back for the latest NHL odds on game day.

San Jose at Toronto NHL Betting Preview & Expert Pick

When: Thursday, 7 PM ET
Where: Air Canada Centre, Toronto
TV: NHL Center Ice, CSNCAL, RSNONT
Stream: NHL.com/tv
Radio: KUFX 98.5 FM (San Jose) / TSN 1050 (Toronto)
Opening NHL Betting Lines: TBA

Why Bet on San Jose?

As of this writing, the Sharks are third in the Pacific Division but well back of first-place Vegas, which has been shockingly good in an expansion season. The Sharks did just get a key player back in center Logan Couture. He missed more than two weeks from a concussion.  Couture has 15 goals and 26 points.

“There’s always doubt, there’s always anxiousness,” Couture said of the concussion. “A lot of times when you’re going to sleep at night and you’re dealing with this injury, you’re always doubting yourself and you’re always doubting coming back from it. Thinking of the worst just comes with the territory.”

San Jose is one of the NHL’s best defensive teams but didn’t look good at all to close 2017 as it was routed on Sunday in Dallas, 6-0 in the first stop on a six-game road trip. They not only never led, but the game was so lopsided the Sharks took their first penalty two minutes before they attempted their first shot. Only three players (Mikkel Boedker, a now-healthy Logan Couture, and Tomas Hertl) ended the game with a zero in the plus/minus column.

It marked the 11th time San Jose was shut out in team history and allowed six or more goals, and the first in nine years. Five of those happened in the franchise’s first two seasons, when the Sharks lost 129 games, 36 more than the next closest team.

Martin Jones has largely been very good this year but was pulled from that. Backup Aaron Dell, who has been even better, was set to start Tuesday’s game in Montreal. Remains to be seen which guy plays here.

San Jose’s Joe Thornton has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in his past 10 games, and needs three points to tie Adam Oates (1,420) for 17th place on the NHL all-time list. Brent Burns has 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in his past 10 games. Joe Pavelski has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in his past 10 games.

Team Statistics

Offense

  • Goals: 2.76
  • Shots: 32.35
  • PP/PK Percentage: 22.14

Defense

  • Goals: 2.51
  • Shots: 30.08
  • PP/PK Percentage: 14.63

Why Bet on Toronto?

No team in the NHL has played fewer home games than the Leafs. Toward the end of 2017, Coach Mike Babcock took a few public jabs at his club’s unfavorable first-half itinerary that saw 58.5 percent of the Leafs’ away games already played. Despite playing a league-high 60 per cent of their games on the road, the Leafs have survived with a .500 record away from the ACC (12-10-2).

The Leafs are jockeying for second in the Atlantic Division with Boston, but neither team is going to catch the NHL’s best club, Tampa Bay, barring a major injury for the Lightning. The Leafs hosted the Bolts on Tuesday. Some good news in that center Nazem Kadri was set to return from an upper-body injury versus Tampa Bay. Kadri sat out two games after he dealt with some neck soreness from an elbow he took versus Arizona on Dec. 28. He skates on the No. 2 line between Patrick Marleau and Leo Komarov.

Are the Maple Leafs a safe bet on Thursday?

Defenseman Nikita Zaitsev remains on injured reserve with a lower-body injury and might not return until Jan. 16 after the team has a five-day break in the schedule. Toronto’s defense could use some help.

Toronto is overdue to beat the Sharks as they have dropped 10 straight in the series. It was 3-2 on Oct. 30 in northern California. San Jose’s Tim Heed scored a tiebreaking goal on the power play early in the third period and assisted on Joe Pavelski’s second-period goal to be named the No. 1 star. Joel Ward added an empty-net goal for San Jose. Martin Jones made 16 saves for San Jose to improve to 7-0 against the Maple Leafs. Jones has allowed just 10 goals in those starts. Auston Matthews scored in the first period and Kadri added a goal with 1:10 remaining to cut San Jose’s lead to 3-2. Frederik Andersen made 36 saves.

Team Statistics

Offense

  • Goals: 3.29
  • Shots: 30.63
  • PP/PK Percentage: 21.55

Defense

  • Goals: 2.93
  • Shots: 33.83
  • PP/PK Percentage: 16.92

Latest NHL Betting Trends

  • San Jose is 2-5 ATS in its last 7 games
  • San Jose is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
  • The total has gone UNDER in 15 of San Jose’s last 23 games
  • Toronto is 3-8 ATS in its last 11 games
  • Toronto is 3-7 SU in its last 10 games
  • The total has gone OVER in 5 of Toronto’s last 7 games

Expert Prediction & NHL Betting Pick

The losing streak to the Sharks ends! The Leafs are going to get hot now that they are home for a while.