Ice Hockey

Betting tips: Calgary Flames vs. Toronto Maple Leafs 1/18

Calgary’s successful January has brought the team within two points of a playoff spot. Toronto is struggling on a four-game losing streak but the Leafs are still a far better team, unlike the early odds suggest.

GM Conroy, what’s the plan?

After a tough fall, the Calgary Flames look to be moving in the right direction. The Flames have only lost twice in January, and Tuesday’s win over Arizona put them just two points away from playoff spots.

In December, it looked like a lost season for Calgary. Fast forward a month, and now GM Craig Conroy has some big decisions to make at the upcoming trade deadline. Elias Lindholm, Noah Hanifin, and Chris Tanev are among the most sought-after players on the market. The Flames aren’t realistically fighting for the Stanley Cup, so most players with UFA status are likely to leave Calgary for an appropriate compensation. At the same time, the Flames’ prospect pool is weak, so they cannot blow the entire roster to pieces.

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Mediocrity has labeled the Flames’ efforts this season. The only truly awful aspect of this team is the power play with its 10.1% efficiency. On the other hand, it’s also hard to point out any clear strengths. Jonathan Huberdeau, who missed the last game due to illness, is one of the problems with his 10.5M contract and .53 PPG output. Jacob Markstrom also struggled early on but found his game during the holiday break, only to be injured last week. Against Toronto, the Flames will start with either Dan Vladar or Dustin Wolf, both of whom are worse options compared to Markstrom.

The Big Four carries Toronto

The Leafs arrive in Calgary on a four-game losing streak after losing to the Oilers on Tuesday. Toronto hasn’t shown anything miraculous so far, but the Leafs are still on pace for a 100-point regular season.

The Big Four on offense has once again carried the team. William Nylander, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and John Tavares have combined for 85 goals, nearly 60 percent of the Leafs’ total. After Nylander’s contract extension, these four players will eat more than half of the salary cap next season. For the same reason, GM Brad Treliving’s hands are pretty much tied on the trade deadline. There simply aren’t too many chips to make creative moves.

The Leafs’ constant concern, their goaltending, is a key topic of speculation again this spring. Ilya Samsonov was so disappointing in the fall that he lost his place, at least temporarily, to Martin Jones. Since being promoted from the AHL, Jones has delivered a stellar .922 SV% for the Leafs. However, that’s only a sample of 15 games. Based on a larger sample, Jones is more of an average backup at this point in his career.

Let’s back Leafs as road favorites

There is no definite information about Calgary’s absences, so I’m only making slight adjustments. Toronto has no performance-impacting injuries. The Leafs are a very front-loaded team with top players bringing decisive advantages against average teams. The Flames belong to that broad group and remain underdogs even at home.

I have a 45 percent estimation for Toronto to win in regular time. Unibet disagrees, with the Leafs offered as slight underdogs in regulation at +150. This is a solid pick that deserves a bigger slice of our bankroll than the last few tips we’ve covered.

Tip: Toronto Maple Leafs in regulation @ +150
Units: 5/10

The match will start on 1/18/2024 at 9:00 PM EST.
The odds are from the time of publication of the article and are subject to change.

Esa Kostet
X: @konekostet

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Register and Bet $25 on any match (min odds +100). Win or lose, you’ll get $100 in bonus bets!

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