It’ll be a star-filled night in Denver on Saturday as the loaded Colorado Avalanche play host to the equally skilled Toronto Maple Leafs in a possible Stanley Cup Finals preview. Both the Avalanche and Maple Leafs are playing good hockey and should be amped up for a highly anticipated matchup. Colorado is favored on the NHL betting lines.
The Avalanche are coming off an offensive explosion in a 7-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night, their third straight win. Colorado pestered Connor Hellebuyck with 42 shots and Gabriel Landeskog had a hat trick while Nathan MacKinnon posted five points (one goal and four assists). Darcy Kuemper saved 34 of the 35 shots he faced.
Toronto has pieced together a four-game winning streak despite tons of game postponements, with the Leafs’ most-recent win a 4-2 triumph over the slumping Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday. Jack Campbell continued his strong 2021-22 campaign with another impressive performance in the net while William Nylander notched a pair of assists and Alex Kerfoot scored a goal and assisted on another.
- Game: Toronto Maple Leafs (22-8-2; 46 points) at Colorado Avalanche (20-8-2; 42 points)
- Location: Ball Arena
- Day/Time: Saturday, January 8th, 7 p.m. ET
- Television: NHL Network
Toronto Maple Leafs at Colorado Avalanche
Jack Campbell Has Been Incredible
One of the knocks on the Maple Leafs in recent seasons has been their goaltending, which has hurt Toronto in the playoffs. That criticism isn’t fair to Frederik Andersen — who’s having a great season with the Carolina Hurricanes and was Toronto’s starter in a few rough playoff exits — but it played a role in Toronto’s decision to hand over the No. 1 goalie duties to Campbell, who was great for the Leafs last year in both the regular season and the playoffs.
Now that he is the top dog, Campbell has gotten better. His 1.87 goals against average and .939 save percentage both lead the NHL, which goes a long way in showing how dominant he has been in the net. He also has four shutouts, which is second-best in hockey right behind Calgary’s Jacob Markstrom.
If you’re betting online, there’s no more reliable goalie in the league right now to side with than Campbell.
Avalanche an Offensive Juggernaut
For how good Campbell is, he’ll have his hands (and glove) full with the relentless Colorado offense. The Avalanche lead the NHL in scoring with a ridiculous 4.30 goals per game and lead the NHL in power play goals scored despite having just the seventh-best power play percentage. That’s a pretty good demonstration of how often opposing defenses are forced to commit penalties against the Avalanche just to slow them down.
Colorado has also done its scoring in a balanced way, with five players — Nazem Kadri, Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon, Landeskog, and Cale Makar — at 28 points or more. So, the Avalanche have a ton of viable offensive threats which makes it tough to key in on any particular player. MacKinnon is still Colorado’s best scoring threat but he only has four goals this season, yet the Avalanche haven’t missed a beat since other guys have stepped up.
Nathan MacKinnon: 33 points in 20 games (135 point 82-game pace)
Nazem Kadri: 42 points in 27 games (127 point pace)
Gabriel Landeskog: 33 points in 25 games (108 point pace)
Mikko Rantanen: 36 points in 27 games (109 point pace)
Cale Makar: 28 points in 26 gp (88 point pace)
— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) January 7, 2022
There’s a reason Colorado is a -155 moneyline favorite (and +145 puck line favorite) on the BetUS Sportsbook against a really good Toronto team.
Special Teams Could Be the Difference
Toronto winning this game might come down to special teams. As mentioned earlier, Colorado relies heavily on its power play — and on being on the power play often — in order to get goals on the board. However, the Maple Leafs are disciplined and have been assessed the fourth-fewest penalty minutes in the NHL. They also have a top-10 penalty kill percentage so they’re well-equipped to shut down that part of Colorado’s game.
On the other side of things, the Maple Leafs convert on 30.1% of their man-advantage chances, which is second in the league behind the Edmonton Oilers. They’ve scored 28 power play goals — two fewer than Colorado — and the Avalanche are 11th in penalty minutes and 28th in penalty kill percentage. Those numbers bode well for Toronto getting power play opportunities and being able to score during them.