Tonight, the Fortress will play host to one of the most intriguing games of the week as the Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Las Vegas Golden Knights.
Look for an exciting game tonight as two of the NHL’s most high-powered teams square off in Las Vegas.
Disappointed by the multi-goal collapse in Colorado on Saturday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs are looking to get back into the more familiar win column. Meanwhile, despite an all-home schedule so far in the new year 2022, the Las Vegas Golden Knights have opened the year with a less underwhelming 1-2-1 record.
NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Maple Leafs vs. Golden Knights
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ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS
In the brutally tough Atlantic Division, the Toronto Maple Leafs are keeping pace with the top teams Florida and Tampa Bay, with a 22-8-3 record for 47 points and a .712 points percentage.
Strong at both ends of the ice, Toronto’s goal differential of plus-28 is one of the best in the league. The Leafs’ 30.9 percent power-play success rate has now moved into top spot, ahead of the Edmonton Oilers, and their penalty killing ranks sixth.
In terms of 5-on-5 possession numbers, the Leafs also rank among the league’s best in key categories like Corsi For percentage, expected goals percentage and high-danger Corsi percentage. Sheldon Keefe’s roster has been well built, and is being effectively deployed.
Trouble doesn’t last long around the Leafs these days, either. The team hasn’t lost back-to-back games of any type since late October, when it struggled through an 0-3-1 stretch.
While Toronto is relatively healthy, Mitch Marner and Pierre Engvall are in COVID protocol and didn’t practice with the team in Vegas on Monday. Ondrej Kase did practice after missing two games due to an undisclosed injury, but is not a lock to suit up against the Golden Knights.
Tuesday’s game is the first of a back-to-back set for the Maple Leafs, who are also scheduled to play in Arizona on Wednesday. Expect No. 1 netminder Jack Campbell to start in Las Vegas — but it’s worth noting, his personal numbers aren’t quite as sparkling as they were earlier in the season.
Though the end of November, Campbell had a .946 save percentage to go along with his league-leading 12 wins. Since December 1, his record is still a solid 5-1-2, but his save percentage has dropped to .918, a number that’s “very good” rather than “historically incredible.”
Up front, Auston Matthews continues his chase for the Rocket Richard Trophy. Two goals against Colorado on Saturday give him 22 in 30 games, four back of current leader Leon Draisaitl.
A trip to the desert is always special for Matthews, the Arizona native, who says Las Vegas is one of his favorite places to play. His personal stats back that up, too. In six career games against the Golden Knights, Matthews has seven goals and nine points.
Two of those goals came on Nov. 2, when the Leafs cruised to a 4-0 win over the Golden Knights at Scotiabank Arena.
ABOUT THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS
Out West, the Las Vegas Golden Knights’ 47 points are good enough for first place in the Pacific Division. That’s the same number of points as Toronto, but Vegas has played five more games.
The clock is now ticking toward Jack Eichel’s arrival to join his new team, two months after undergoing artificial disk replacement surgery in his neck. He’s expected in Las Vegas later this week, and it’ll be interesting to see how the Golden Knights maneuver their salary-cap situation to fit him in once he’s ready for game action.
For now, they’re a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde team, as they roll through ongoing lineup challenges. After captain Mark Stone and goaltender Robin Lehner returned from their latest injuries last week, Las Vegas looked unstoppable in a 5-1 win over the New York Rangers on Thursday, then dropped a 2-1 decision to the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday in Marc-Andre Fleury’s return to his old stomping grounds.
In addition to long-term absences for Max Pacioretty and Alec Martinez, forwards Nic Hague and William Carrier and backup goaltender Laurent Brossoit are the latest additions to the injured list. Hague won’t play on Tuesday; Carrier and Brossoit are questionable.
There’s certainly no concern about overloading Lehner at this juncture — the Golden Knights’ two-game road trip to Canada this weekend has been postponed. As things stand now, Las Vegas won’t play again until Pittsburgh comes to town on Jan. 17.
In the NHL, home teams usually enjoy a meaningful advantage. Last change for the coaches delivers a strategic advantage and the cheering support of the fanbase provides players with a mental lift.
That has definitely been true in Las Vegas. Since coming into the league in 2017, the Golden Knights have the fifth-best points percentage on home ice with opponents forced to play in a deafening, intimidating environment.
This year, however, the advantage has not been as pronounced. Las Vegas is actually six games above .500 on the road (11-6-0) and just three above at T-Mobile Arena (12-9-1).
The Leafs have also been solid on the road this year (8-4-2). And other than that third-period hiccup against a determined and very good Colorado team last Saturday, Toronto has been playing much more consistent hockey than Las Vegas of late.
For Tuesday’s game, the Leafs are actually slight underdogs — odds we don’t see all that often. That’s an opportunity for you to take advantage. Back Toronto on the moneyline for a potential jackpot in Vegas.
BET ON TORONTO
Note: Some info above is taken from Action Network.