Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#7 New Jersey Devils 6.5 vs.
#8 Toronto Maple Leafs -280
Tuesday, January 14, 2020 at 7:05pm EST
Scotiabank Arena, Toronto
Written by Chris Kubala

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It’s a battle of Eastern Conference teams on opposite sides of the playoff cut line north of the border. The New Jersey Devils are on the road as they travel to face the Toronto Maple Leafs Tuesday night. New Jersey comes in off a surprising 3-1 home win over Tampa Bay Sunday night in their last contest. Toronto was clubbed 8-4 on the road by Florida in their last game Sunday night. The Maple Leafs had won four straight meetings, including a 5-4 overtime win at home in the first meeting this season on December 27, 2019.

New Jersey Devils Seek Third Straight Win

New Jersey earned their second straight win as they stopped Tampa Bay’s 10-game win streak with a home win Sunday night. The Devils enter this game in the basement of the Metropolitan Division, 18 points behind the Islanders for the final guaranteed playoff spot. They stood 24 points back of Washington for the division lead and 12 back of the Flyers for the second wild card spot. New Jersey is 28th in the league in lighting the lamp as they average 2.62 goals per contest. The Devils are a dismal 30th in the league in goals against as they surrender 3.38 goals per game. New Jersey is 29th in the league in power play success as they have converted only 14.3 percent of their chances with the man advantage. The Devils are 19th in the league in penalty killing as they have been successful in 80.1 percent of their shorthanded situations this season.

In the game against Tampa Bay, the Devils turned in another solid defensive performance and stopped Tampa Bay’s 10-game losing skid. New Jersey was outshot 12-10 in the opening period of the contest but the teams skated off scoreless after 20 minutes of play. In the second period, the Devils were outshot 8-6 but held a 2-1 edge on the scoreboard, which is what the score was after 40 minutes of action. After falling behind 1-0 in the opening minute of the period, Andy Greene evened the score with his first of the year at 3:10 off assists from Miles Wood and Jack Hughes. Travis Zajac gave the Devils a 2-1 lead with his sixth of the year at 9:54 off assists from Nikita Gusev and Damon Severson. The third period saw the Devils outshot 7-4 but they had the lone goal of the stanza to salt the win away. Wood closed the scoring with his seventh of the year, into an empty net, at 19:59 off assists from Wayne Simmonds and Greene. Louis Domingue made 26 saves against his former team in the win for the Devils, who were outshot 27-20 in the game. Mackenzie Blackwood is expected to get the start here. New Jersey fired general manager Ray Shero Monday afternoon.

Toronto Maple Leafs Look to Get Back on Track

Toronto dropped to 0-2-1 in their last three games as they were unable to slow a Florida offensive barrage on the road. The Maple Leafs entered Monday holding third place in the Atlantic Division, 11 points behind the Bruins. Toronto is 2nd in the league in scoring as they average 3.59 goals per game on the season. The Maple Leafs are 16th in goals against as they allow 3.26 goals per contest. Toronto is 6th in the league on the power play as they convert 23.2 percent of their chances with the man advantage this season. The Maple Leafs are 26th in penalty killing as they successfully shut down 75.8 percent of their shorthanded situations on the year: they have five shorthanded goals.

Against the Panthers, the Maple Leafs were blitzed early and couldn’t dig their way out of a massive hole. Toronto held a 14-11 edge in the opening period in the shot department but trailed 3-0 on the scoreboard. The second period saw the Maple Leafs outshoot the Panthers 17-10 but they were outscored 4-3 to trail 7-3 after 40 minutes of play. After giving up a pair of goals to trail 5-0, Zach Hyman scored his 11th of the year at 3:30 off assists from Morgan Rielly and Kasperi Kapanen to get Toronto on the board. Florida scored twice more to go up 7-1 before Mitch Marner scored his 12th of the year at the 13:00 mark off assists from Zach Hyman and Tyson Barrie. John Tavares made It 7-3 with his 17th of the year at 15:26 off assists from William Nylander and Alexander Kerfoot. In the third period, Toronto held a 16-8 shot advantage with both teams scoring once to finish the one-sided loss. Marner scored his second of the game and 13th of the season at the 34 second mark off an assist from Hyman to close within 7-4. That was as close as the Maple Leafs would get as Florida scored the game’s final goal later in the stanza. Frederik Andersen stopped only eight of 12 shots in the period before getting the hook. Michael Hutchinson kicked out 13 of 17 shots for Toronto, who held a 47-29 edge in shots. Toronto lost Rielly for up to eight weeks with a fractured foot that he suffered by blocking a shot.

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The Maple Leafs are minus Muzzin and Rielly, which is really going to test their defensive depth. Toronto called up Rasmus Sandin from the Toronto Marlies and he’ll need to get acclimated quickly because the Maple Leafs have to get back on track after allowing 17 goals in their last three games. On the plus side, they’re facing a New Jersey team that struggles to light the lamp and who has had problems on the road this season. The Devils beat both Washington and Tampa Bay but both those games came on home ice. This one is on the road and New Jersey can’t punch above their weight class here. Toronto comes back with a vengeance as they respond to Sheldon Keefe for the win.

Prediction: Toronto Maple Leafs -1.5

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With injuries to Toronto's blueline piling up, as Muzzin and Rielly comprise half their optimal top four group, one has to wonder if Andersen can return to the form that he showed during the Maple Leafs' 9-0-1 stretch as opposed to what we saw against Florida. New Jersey is 10-12-0 on the road this season. In those games, they have been outscored by 22 (75-53) and have been outshot by 51 (756-705) this season. That's an average of 5.82 goals per game on the road when New Jersey is the visiting team. Toronto is 11-5-6 on home ice this season. The Maple Leafs own a +8 goal differential (76-68) and a +19 shot differential (736-717) on home ice. That gives Toronto a 6.55 goal per game average on home ice. The two teams combined for nine goals last month: this one ends up over the mark.

Prediction: Over 6.5
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Written By Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in-depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. Now he is writing for our team here at Winners @ Whiners. Chris keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college. He is also very knowledgeable in the NHL, the NBA, college basketball and MLB. If you want consistency, then be sure and check out Chris’ content daily.