#Betting101: NHL Weekend Look-Ahead

Toronto Maple Leafs players

Jason Lake

Tuesday, December 19, 2017 8:43 PM UTC

Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017 8:43 PM UTC

It’s time to take #Betting101 to the ice. Which teams are undervalued or overvalued on this weekend’s NHL odds board? We’re looking at you, Toronto Maple Leafs.

It’s beginning to look a lot like hockey. Winter is a special time across much of the Northern Hemisphere, a time when millions of people are reminded that they live inside a refrigerator several months of the year. Even here at our stately home office in the Pacific Northwest, it’s like we’re on the set of Batman & Robin.

Let’s kick some ice! Almost every single team in the NHL is in action this Saturday, the last day before the Christmas break; the Calgary Flames are the only ones idle. So let’s do our #Betting101 thing and see which teams are naughty and which ones are nice for your weekend NHL picks.

Zone Reads

Hockey doesn’t lend itself as easily to the Moneyball approach as other sports, but the sports geeks have made some big strides in recent years. And right off the bat, the numbers don’t look so good for the Toronto Maple Leafs. They skate into Tuesday’s action at 20-13-1, good for second in the Atlantic Division; however, with so many Leafs fans betting on their team through all kinds of weather, Toronto (+1000) is second on the Stanley Cup futures market at Bovada.

Here’s the ugly part: Toronto’s puck possession stats. According to the fine folks at Hockey Reference, The Leafs are No. 24 overall in Fenwick For percentage (47.8 percent) and No. 19 in Corsi For percentage (49.3 percent). They’re also No. 26 in offensive Zone Starts at 47.7 percent. What keeps Toronto alive? Good shooting – they’re ninth overall at 10.3 percent.

Auston City Limits

As it turns out, the Leafs visit the New York Rangers (18-12-3) on Saturday, starting at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on MSG, and the Rangers are in much the same boat as Toronto. The puck possession and shot accuracy stats are almost identical; New York does better keeping the puck in the other end, though, ranking No. 18 overall at 50.4 percent for offensive Zone Starts. Even so, we’ve got two teams who are both “due” for some regression to the mean with their results.

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Mike Babcock said same thing as yesterday in regards to Auston Matthews. Skated today, but not playing. Medical team has a plan for him, and when he’s ready to play, he’ll play. But will need a full practice first.

— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) December 19, 2017
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Which makes the UNDER a viable choice on the NHL odds board for Saturday’s game. It’s even more compelling with Auston Matthews (13 goals, 13 assists in 26 games) missing Tuesday’s game against Carolina with an undisclosed upper-body injury. That’s the fifth game in a row Matthews will sit out; the Leafs scored a grand total of four goals in the other four games, with the UNDER at 3-0-1. Bet accordingly, enjoy the holidays, and may the cylinder be with you.

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