Monday night in Alberta, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames will meet at the Scotiabank Saddledome for the second half of their back-to-back.
After the 4-2 win on Sunday, the Maple Leafs (25-10-3) have six wins over their last seven games and four straight road wins, while the Flames (16-20-3) have dropped their last three and seven of their past eight, all in regulation.
Here is a look at some key numbers and players to watch, along with a free pick. Toronto is a road favorite at -146, while Calgary is a +124 home underdog.
By the Numbers
Toronto has one of the great all-around offenses in hockey. The Leafs are sixth in the NHL with 3.26 goals per game on 31 shots, while their power play ranks eighth at close to 24 percent.
Calgary answers that with an offense that is only 25th in the NHL with 2.54 goals per game. However, they’re averaging just under 30 shots per game and rank 17th with a 20 percent power play rank.
Defensively, the Maple Leafs sit eighth of the league with both 2.5 goals allowed and 28.3 shots allowed but have the 20th-ranked penalty kill at 78 percent. On the other hand, the Flames are 19th with 3.03 goals allowed and 14th with just under 30 shots allowed, but have a slightly better penalty kill at around 80 percent.
Players to Watch
The Maple Leafs boast two of the top point-producers in hockey, with one of them the primary goal-scorer and the other his assist mate. The scorer is, of course, center Auston Matthews, who leads the league with 25 goals and has multiple points in four of his last five outings. Flanking Matthews is right-wing Mitchell Marner, who has points in 10 of his previous 12 games to up his total to 34 assists along with 13 goals.
Others to watch for Toronto include winger Zach Hyman. Hyman dished out an assist on Sunday for his third game out of four with a point, carving out a nice new role on the top line with Matthews and Marner.
Center John Tavares is coming off of a goal and assist night as well, snapping his three-game drought to give him 30 points on the year. Finally, defenseman Morgan Reilly added a goal on Sunday, his fourth of the year, to go with his 23 assists.
The Flames offer some star power that can help them compete on a nightly basis. Their leading point-producer is left-wing Matthew Tkachuk, a 23-year old who, after points in three of the last five games, is up to 10 goals and 18 assists on the year. Joining Tkachuk near the top of the points list is left-wing Johnny Gaudreu, who has 13 goals and 14 assists but just one goal over the past two weeks of action.
Trailing Tkachuk in assists by just a couple is center Sean Monahan, who, with two over his last five games, is up to 16 total. Calgary has managed to get a big boost from winger Andrew Mangiapane, who scored Sunday to bring him to 11 on the year. Additionally, left-wing Sam Bennett has assists in back-to-back games, while veteran Joakim Nordstrom scored his first goal of the year on Sunday.
After playing just one day ago, both teams should have new starting goaltenders in net. For Toronto, that means Jack Campbell, who has been absolutely sensational to the tune of a perfect 8-0-0 record with a 1.35 GAA, .951 save percentage, and two shutouts.
Meanwhile, Calgary will turn to their regular starter, veteran Jacob Markstrom. In the first year of his sizable free-agent deal, Markstrom is 12-13-2 and has a 2.94 GAA, .901 save percentage, and a pair of shutouts.
The Maple Leafs are the better team overall, plus they have momentum on their side. It will be interesting, though, to see if the Flames can once again out-shoot Toronto, just like they did on Sunday, to see if they can figure out Campbell.
If the odds were a little more strong in Toronto’s direction, I would suggest rolling the dice on Markstrom and Calgary to pull off an upset at home.
However, it’s hard to hate the Leafs, especially with how they’ve played. Take Toronto to finish the sweep of the Flames.
Pick: Maple Leafs -146