The St. Louis Blues (22-10-5) are one of the NHL’s best home teams with a 15-3-2 record at home this season. But due to an outbreak of COVID-19 cases among key players, the Blues are going off as a big home underdog this Sunday night in St. Louis hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs (23-9-3).
Opening Odds Analysis
This game originally opened as a pick’em with both teams listed at -110, but St. Louis’s COVID-related absences and betting action on the Maple Leafs has moved the line to Toronto -180. St. Louis is a +160 home underdog and the total is set at six goals. The Blues are 11-9 SU in their last 20 games as a home dog.
Toronto News & Notes
The Maple Leafs suffered a shocking 2-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Friday night as -320 road favorites. Toronto had 46 shots in the game to Arizona’s 18, but Petr Mrazek made only 16 saves and Karel Vejmelka made 45. Prior to the loss, the Maple Leafs hadn’t scored less than three goals in a game since being shutout by the Pittsburgh Penguins back on November 20. They are 11-3-2 since then.
Mitch Marner is set to return from quarantine on Saturday after missing each of Toronto’s last three games. Maple Leafs fans are hoping that the time off will help get Marner back on track as the 24-year-old is having a down year in 2021-22 with six goals and 15 assists in 26 games played. Auston Matthews enters this game with four goals in his last three games and 17 goals in his last 15 games.
St. Louis News & Notes
Robert Thomas and Pavel Buchnevich both tallied third-period goals on Thursday night to erase a 1-0 deficit en route to a 2-1 win at home over the Seattle Kraken. Buchnevich won’t be around to help out on offense against the Maple Leafs on Saturday after entering COVID-19 protocols on Friday morning. The pressure will be on Jordan Kyrou to produce on offense with Buchnevich, Vladimir Tarasenko, David Perron and Brayden Schenn all in quarantine.
The Blues are 3-0 over their last three games thanks in large part to some outstanding goaltending by Ville Husso and Jordan Binnington. St. Louis’s netminders have combined to stop 83 of the 86 shots that they have faced across this winning streak. Whichever goaltender gets the nod on Saturday will have their work cut out for them against Toronto’s dangerous offensive attack.
How Toronto Will Win
Toronto’s offense was red hot before running into a masterful performance by Karel Vejmelka. With two of St. Louis’s top three scorers out, the Maple Leafs should secure a win if they get back on track offensively in this one.
How St. Louis Will Win
This could have been a fun shootout between two of the NHL’s top offensive teams. With St. Louis’s COVID issues however, the Blues will need to rely on their defense and goaltending to try to grind out an upset win at home.
Computer Pick: Maple Leafs -180
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