by OddsShark (@OddsShark) – Sponsored Post
A change in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ goaltending usage might help turn around a trend of struggling in the tailend of back-to-back games.
Going into the return game of a home-and-home set, the Maple Leafs are -240 favourites while the Buffalo Sabres are a +200 underdog with a 6.5-goal total on the NHL odds for Saturday at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Sabres beat the Maple Leafs 6-4 with an empty-net goal on home ice on Friday, but Toronto is 10-3 in its last 13 home games against Buffalo with the total finishing OVER nine times.
The Maple Leafs are also 11-3 in their last 14 home games as a heavy favourite of -200 or farther into minus money at sports betting sites, while the Sabres are 3-13 in their last 16 away games as an away underdog of +175 or more.
Sabres at Maple Leafs | OddsShark Matchup Report
Goalie Frederik Andersen, who usually played the first leg of back-to-back games under former coach Mike Babcock, will start for Toronto, which should offer the Maple Leafs a chance to improve a trend where they are 1-9 in their last 10 games when they played the day prior.
The Sabres are 12-10-4 this season, but that includes being 1-5 in their last six games with the total finishing OVER four times. Center Jack Eichel leads an attack that has helped Buffalo stand 14th in the 31-team NHL in five-on-five shot-attempt percentage (50.14). Buffalo is 17th in goals scored (2.92) and 18th in goals against (3.04) on the back end, where they are missing defenseman Rasmus Dahlin (concussion). On special teams, the power play ranks 18th (18.3) while the penalty killing unit ranks 25th (75.6).
Linus Ullmark, who is 6-5-2 with a 3.00 goals-against average and .911 save percentage, started on Friday. Carter Hutton is 6-5-2 with a 2.91 GAA and .903 save percentage, but Buffalo is 0-7 in his last seven games.
The Maple Leafs are 12-11-4, including a 4-1 mark in the five games since Sheldon Keefe took over as head coach. A balanced forward corps led by centers John Tavares and Auston Matthews has contributed to Toronto having a greater run of play lately as it ranks third in the NHL in five-on-five shot-attempt percentage (53.88). The Maple Leafs are now eighth in goals scored (3.33), but stand a dubious 24th in goals against (3.30). Toronto’s special teams have near-equal efficiency to Buffalo’s, with the power play ranked 16th (18.5 percent) while the penalty killing unit ranks 28th (74.4).
Andersen is 12-5-3 this season with a 2.54 goals-against average and .919 save percentage.
The Maple Leafs have another set of back-to-back games next week, visiting the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday prior to hosting the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday.