The dynamic duo of Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point have been on fire lately and head to Toronto as underdogs vs. the Maple Leafs. Our NHL betting picks highlight the value on the Lightning’s top line tonight.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have dropped two straight games in regulation for the first time this season and will try and turn things around vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have won five straight and took a 4-3 OT win over the Buds back on December 5.
Brayden Point is scoring at will for Tampa Bay, so getting a linemate — and one of the best set-up players in the NHL — to record an assist at a reasonable price is a must-bet for anyone looking for value tonight.
Find out who in my free NHL picks and predictions for Maple Leafs vs. Capitals.
Lightning vs Maple Leafs best odds
Lightning vs Maple Leafs picks and predictions
With the Bolts coming in as the underdog, there is a little added value to their player props tonight.
Nikita Kucherov has been a force of late and has 16 points over the Lightning‘s last 10, including 14 assists. He’s playing with Brayden Point, who has a hot stick with eight goals over his last 10 games. With Point feeling it, Kucherov is shooting less (4-8 O/U SOG last 12) and playing the set-up role.
Only Connor McDavid has more assists over that stretch, and his assist market sits at 1.5 while Kucherov’s is 0.5 and a very reasonable -125 to the Over.
He’s getting big minutes, at over 21 per game, and getting over 75% of the power-play time for one of the best league’s units. On the season, he’s tied for fourth in power-play assists with 15 in 30 games. Considering the bad blood between these two teams, we could see plenty of PP opportunities tonight. Kucherov played 8:43 on the power play in the last meeting.
With his point total at 1.5, getting a Kucherov assist at -125 is my best bet in tonight’s game. Kucherov has an assist in six straight and is 9-2 to the over in his last 11.
My best bet: Nikita Kucherov Over 0.5 assists (-125 at SportsInteraction)
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Lightning vs Maple Leafs moneyline analysis
Following a 4-3 loss to the Lightning on the road in early December, the Leafs ripped off four straight wins over Western Conference opponents but have dropped their two most recent games vs. two teams from the East where they were outscored eight to three. It’s the first time the Leafs have dropped two straight games in regulation all season, which is remarkable considering the injuries they’ve dealt with and are still trying to overcome.
The Leafs’ blue line has been stable but is still missing two starters in Morgan Rielly and Jake Muzzin. The Buds might get back middle-six forward Calle Jarnkrok today but that doesn’t affect the moneyline at all. The Leafs even tried shaking things up with a trade yesterday (Dennis Malgin out and Dryden Hurst in), but this also won’t tilt today’s price and it’s unsure if Hurst can even suit up in a likely bottom-six role.
The Leafs’ issues of late have been on their incredible reliance on scoring from their top-four players. We’ve seen Mitch Marner’s and Michael Bunting’s point streaks come to an end in back-to-back games, but if this team can’t get out of a recent scoring funk that includes an 0-for-8 stretch on the power play over the last three games, the skid could slide to three games for a team that has been slightly overachieving to date.
Matt Murray hasn’t been confirmed for the Leafs but he isn’t a goalie I want to lay the juice with right now. He’s posted a save percentage below .900 in four of his last six games and is regressing after playing at an unsustainable level in October and November. He’s been great in his wins and mediocre in his losses. Tampa scored four goals vs. Murray in the last meeting including a soft overtime winner.
The Lightning are 5-0 SU in their last five and 8-2 SU in their last 10. They sit three points behind the Leafs who have played two more games in the Atlantic but matchup well vs. Toronto. Tampa has taken three straight from the Leafs including last season’s playoffs.
The Bolts have been getting much better goaltending which was an issue at the start of the season as Andrei Vazilevskiy owns a .932 save percentage over his last 11 starts and a sub-2.00 GAA over his last seven turns.
He’s being supported by an elite penalty kill that has been perfect for six straight games and the league’s No.5 power play. If special teams are going to be a factor tonight, the edge is with the visitors.
The Lightning have found a groove after some line juggling and could get a big boost if now-No.1 defenseman Mikhail Sergachev can suit up after missing two straight games. Sergachev is worth at least five points in the money line.
Big step for Mikhail Sergachev returning to action tomorrow night as he’s working with the second power-play unit at practice:
PP1: Hedman, Stamkos, Kucherov, Point, Hagel/Cirelli
PP2: Sergachev, Colton, Killorn, Paul, Perry
— Chris Krenn (@Chris_Krenn) December 19, 2022
Looking at the price, the Leafs haven’t seen any movement after opening at -140 and closed as +115 road dogs in the last meeting earlier this month. If home ice is worth 20 to 25 points, this -140 price could be five to 10 points too short on the home side making.
I think if this line gets to +125, I’ll make a move on the Lightning, but their win streak has come mostly at home and as a decent favorite. This is their first game as an underdog since November 29 (a 3-1 loss to Boston) and they’re 0-3 SU as a plus-money dog this season. I don’t trust the Leafs, who are in unfamiliar territory with their losing skid and with Matt Murray not playing great of late, either.
Lightning vs Maple Leafs Over/Under analysis
The Leafs have gone 3-1 to the over across their last four games, which is in sharp contrast to their league-best 11-20-2 O/U mark on the season. The books have adjusted the Leafs’ total to 6 these days, which has taken away some of the early-season value of their Unders.
Getting elite goaltending from Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov consistently is a lot to ask and I think we’re starting to see some regression in their play. There was a point just last week where the two Leaf goalies ranked first and fourth in goals saved above expected/60, which is something we won’t see at the year’s end.
The hardest part of handicapping this total is the special teams. The Leafs haven’t scored a power-play goal in three games and were pretty cold in the games before that outside of a couple of outbursts. The Bolts haven’t allowed a PP goal in six games and have killed 22 of their last 24 penalties. However, the last meeting we saw 11 power-play opportunities and three goals so maybe this matchup works well for both power plays.
The Lightning’s offense is also making betting the Under a tough spot tonight. They are one of three teams averaging at least 4.00 goals per game over their last 10 matches and also have a Top-5 power play over that stretch.
The visitors are getting good depth scoring, with seven players averaging at least 0.90 points per game over the last 10 games, and even the bottom-six and second power-play unit have been a reliable source for production.
The last meeting saw over seven expected goals, 72 shots, and three power-play goals. I’m leaning toward the Over tonight.
Lightning vs Maple Leafs betting trend to know
The Over is 6-1 in the last seven meetings. find more NHL betting trends for Lightning vs Maple Leafs.
Lightning vs Maple Leafs game info
|Location:||Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON|
|dates:||Tuesday, December 20, 2022|
|Puck drop:||7:00pm ET|
|TV:||Bally Sports SunX, TSN4|