Goalies Key as Maple Leafs Look to Sink Sharks

Dana Lane

Thursday, January 4, 2018 4:45 PM UTC

Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018 4:45 PM UTC

The Toronto Maple Leafs will try to break their season-long three-game losing streak when they host the San Jose Sharks in NHL action Thursday. Is Frederik Andersen the reason to back the Leafs?

[/]{"component":"video", "type":"youtube", "url":"https://www.youtube.com/embed/NNrh3pL3KaY", "videoSize":"Large" }[/]NHL Thursday: Sharks vs. Maple Leafs

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Free NHL Pick: Maple Leafs -139Best Line Offered: Heritage

According to the SBR odds page the wagers coming in on this one are split down the middle, but my feeling is you’ll see Maple Leafs money coming in soon so get on this one quick. We’ve already seen the money go Toronto’s way as the number has been pushed up from an opening line of Toronto -135 to -145 in some spots. The number you should be looking for is in the -140 range. Do not touch this game if it goes over -150. Heritage is still offering -139, so that’s where I would head.

This is a revenge spot for the Leafs, who lost 3-2 in San Jose as an even-money dog in October. Despite the close score, the Sharks completely dominated with a 39-18 shot advantage for their 10th straight win against Toronto. However, we’re not going back five years as a basis for Thursday's selection. With teams going through numerous roster changes over the years (ex-Sharks star Patrick Marleau is now with the Leafs, for example), these deep all-time record statistics are meaningless.

In the October meeting, Sharks goalie Martin Jones needed to make just 16 saves on 18 shots. Mark it down: Jones will not face 18 shots tonight. The Leafs are a patient offensive team that features as good of a top six as you can find. They don’t throw a lot of shots on net, electing to go with quality over quantity, but even with that being said they average more than 30 shots a game and will generate at least four goals tonight. The first meeting was the first game on the West Coast for Toronto after playing two nights earlier at home against Philadelphia. Yes, I know the Sharks were in a similar mode, but it’s easier going home off of a road trip than it is starting a road trip.

We still don’t have confirmation on the goaltending matchup, but if Jones starts for the Sharks, how can we feel comfortable with that? He has allowed at least three goals in eight of his last 11 starts, and at least four goals in six of his last eight games. Meanwhile, Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen was outstanding against Vegas on New Year's Eve. The Leafs lost, but Andersen was the reason they stayed in that game.

The Leafs are the right side in this spot.

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