Eight games into the 2018-2019 season, the Toronto Maple Leafs have stumbled to a slightly rocky start. The team, which entered this year’s campaign with such high hopes, has nine points on four wins, three losses and one overtime loss that came via shootout. It’s not exactly the start the team and its fans were hoping for, but it’s still very early on in the season. Toronto got some bad news this week, too, when it was announced that team captain John Tavares will be forced to miss at least two weeks of action due to a broken finger his suffered during a game against the Washington Capitals. Tavares will be re-examined by doctors in two weeks, at which point, they’ll come up with a plan for his playing time. Being out two weeks would mean Tavares would miss at least six games.
The main problem for the Leafs thus far this season has been their defensive play. They’ve allowed a whopping 28 total goals in their first eight games, which is tied with the Detroit Red Wings for the second most in the Eastern Conference, ahead of only the New Jersey Devils. Only the Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild have allowed more goals this year in the Western Conference.
There were some questions about Toronto’s defensive play entering this season, especially with the changes in the back line of the team’s roster. With defensemen Jake Gardiner and Nikita Zaitsev gone, the Maple Leafs have relied on Morgan Reilly, Jake Muzzin, Cody Ceci and Tyson Barrie for the big minutes on defense.
In goal, it’s been a tough start to the year for starter Frederik Andersen. He’s played in six games, allowing 18 goals on 169 shots, for a dismal save percentage of .893. His goals against average is also a lowly 3.14.
His backup Michael Hutchinson hasn’t been very good in his three games either, allowing nine goals on 79 shots for a .886 save percentage and 3.98 goals against average.
Toronto has been lighting the lamp at a high pace. Their 31 total goals for is tops in the NHL. Auston Matthews leads the way with seven goals in only eight games. Mitch Marner, Tavares, Ilya Mikheyev and Trevor Moore all have two goals apiece.
In total, there have been 59 goals scored in Toronto’s eight games. On average, that means there have been 7.38 goals per game scored in Toronto’s games. A typical total goals line given by sportsbooks is often 5.5 or 6, making it a strong play thus far in the season to take the over in Toronto’s games.
The sportsbooks will eventually catch on to the fact that there are so many goals being scored in Toronto’s games and will increase the total goals line on their games. Still, that number isn’t likely to go above 6.5 per game very often.
Over the next week, Toronto will face some challenging competition, starting with a Saturday home game against their huge divisional rival, the Boston Bruins. They’ll then host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday before heading on the road to face Boston against on Tuesday night. Toronto returns home for a tilt against the San Jose Sharks on Friday.
Boston has only allowed 14 goals and scored 19 in their seven games this season, so those games might be stay aways from a goal total perspective.
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