Do the Toronto Maple Leafs have any chance in this matchup as a massive underdog in NHL odds as they face the Blues in St. Louis? See what we think and who we like as our betting pick in this matchup.
Ice time is set for 7:00 pm ET tonight at the Scottrade Center in Saint Louis, Missouri. 5 Dimes Sportsbook lists the Blues as a huge -225 betting favorite and the total for the game is 5.5 (+100). Normally, a bettor would be looking for a way to fade the Blues as the Maple Leafs are an above .500 team and these NHL odds are extreme. That said, St. Louis has been nearly automatic at home and the Leafs have been crumbling lately.
We have an early confirmation that Brian Elliot will indeed be in net for the Blues while we expect Jonathan Bernier to be between the pipes for the Maple Leafs, but it's unconfirmed as of the early morning.
Elliot has split time with Jake Allen and Martin Brodeur and is 11-5-2 on the season with an amazing 2.00 GAA. In his last game, Elliot lost a 3-2 overtime game to the Detroit Red Wings, but previous to that, was on a 4 game winning streak.
Opponents Singing the Blues
You can expect a full effort out of Elliot every time that he takes to the ice and he also has the luxury of being supported by the #2 offense in the league, which scores 3.1 goals per game and is also supported by some amazing penalty killing as the Blues are also tops in the NHL at 25.7%.
Toronto will also put major pressure on Elliot on the offensive end as they average 3 goals per game, but the Leafs problem is their defense. The defense allows 3.1 goals per game and they're not going to be competing for the Stanley Cup with numbers like that.
During this period of losing, Jonathan Bernier (16-12-3, 2.69 GAA) has been very inconsistent, but has kept the Leafs in the game in his last 3 games, allowing 7 goals in total. With everything said, Brian Elliot is confirmed as tonight's goalie and the Blues look really appealing as tonight's NHL pick.
Vladimir Tarasenko and Kevin Shattenkirk
The Blues have 5 players in double figure goals and 4 players in double figures in plus/minus differential, but with Tarasenko on the wing and Shattenkirk as a top defender, this team appears unstoppable.
Tarasenko has a chance for a 50 goal season as he leads the Blues with 24 goals, 23 assists, a +23 plus/minus differential,4 game winning goals and 149 shots on goal. This is what a team wants from their top offensive player. In his last 4 games, Tarasenko has 2 goals and 4 assists. Look for him to be a factor in what could be a high scoring game, against a Maple Leafs team with a poor defense.
Kevin Shattenkirk has been a beast on defense as he leads the Blues in assists with 31. In his last 4 games, he has 3 assists, and averages an assist per game in Blues wins. Shattenkirk is a defender that see's a ton of ice time. So much that he saw nearly 30 minutes in St. Louis' overtime loss to Detroit in their last game. The Blues are a team with many offensive options and Shattenkirk is the perfect set up man on a team that plays in a very competitive Western Conference, but should have a nice run in the playoffs.
Wingers Phil Kessel and James van Reimsdyk will look to reverse their fortunes tonight as both players are in a bit of a drought, not having scored a point in their last 3 games. Toronto must have production from their top two players. Kessel got the news that he will participate in the NHL All Star Game and this is a player that's capable of being a game changer for a Toronto team that can put the puck in the net.
Free NHL Pick: St. Louis -225 at 5 Dimes