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Matthews Set For Return As Leafs Face Rangers

Auston Matthews could return to the Leafs lineups

The last time the Toronto Maple Leafs played an American team in a regular-season game was over 19 months ago. Toronto won the all-Canadian North Division last year before suffering a first-round playoff heartache against the Montreal Canadiens. Tonight, the New York Rangers (1-1-1) visit the Maple Leafs (2-1) as heavy road underdogs but have won four of their last five meetings against Toronto.

New York Rangers vs Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Date/Time: October 18, 7 p.m. ET
  • Arena: Scotiabank Arena
  • TV Coverage: Sportsnet, NHLN, MSG, TVAS
  • Opening Odds: Maple Leafs -200 | O/U 5.5 (Line History)
  • Rangers vs Maple Leafs Matchup Report

Opening Odds Analysis

Toronto opened as the -200 home favorite and the number is working its way down, currently closer to -180 at most sportsbooks. The total opened at 5.5 but was juiced heavily on the OVER. That number has now been bumped up to 6. The Maple Leafs have gone UNDER the total in five consecutive games.

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New York News & Notes 

With 540 career games as an NHL coach, Gerard Gallant is in his first season with New York and takes over a Rangers team that struggled on and off the ice last year.

When the Rangers won the 2020 NHL lottery, they won the right to draft consensus first overall pick Alexis Lafreniere. Lafreniere struggled in his first season under the bright lights of New York with 21 points in 56 games. This year, the talented 20-year-old is playing on a line with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider and has one goal in three games.

In 49 career games with the Rangers, goalie Igor Shesterkin has a 2.57 goals-against average and .921 save percentage. At +2000 odds to win the Vezina Trophy this year, if Shesterkin can stay healthy and hold up for an 82-game season, many think he is a good futures bet to be crowned the league’s best netminder.

Toronto News & Notes

Mitch Marner received a lot of criticism for his performance in last year’s disappointing playoff loss, managing only four points in the seven-game series, and is off to a slow start this season with just one assist in his first three games.

Marner’s point production will certainly increase when Leafs superstar Auston Matthews returns to the lineup. Matthews underwent offseason wrist surgery and hasn’t played yet but it’s expected the talented goal scorer will debut tonight. Matthews scored 41 goals in 52 regular-season games for Toronto last year and his return might be the reason the total has jumped from 5.5 to 6.

William Nylander, who was Toronto’s best playoff performer last year with eight points in seven games, is off to a strong start, topping the Leafs with four points through their first three games.

How New York Will Win

Lafreniere scored his first goal Saturday night in his hometown of Montreal and if he can ride some of that momentum into Toronto, New York will have two talented scoring lines. Artemi Panarin and Zibanejad have the capability to match Marner and Matthews. If the secondary scorers step up, New York could walk out of the Scotiabank Centre with two important points on the road.

How Toronto Will Win 

In the team’s first two games, Toronto was criticized for starting poorly. In their most recent contest, the Maple Leafs played a very good first period against the Ottawa Senators and were the better team in all three periods, winning 3-1. If Matthews can return tonight and help Marner start producing points, the gifted Leaf forwards could be in for a big night.

Computer Pick: Leafs ML (-180)

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Shark Bites
  • The OVER is 10-2 in New York’s last 12 games at Toronto.
  • New York is 4-1 in its last 5 games vs Toronto.
  • The UNDER is 5-0 in Toronto’s last 5 games.