Tip: Much at stake when St. Louis Blues visit Toronto Maple Leafs!

Robert Thomas
It's time for Toronto Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues to clash at Scotiabank Arena, a match where much is at stake in the playoff race. Both teams are in a wild card spot and although the season is far from over, it's starting to get tight!

The Toronto Maple Leafs are mixing performances with incredibly high peaks but also deep valleys. The home team is now up against another offensively skilled team that comes in good form and is keenly eyeing an unexpected playoff spot, so there's much at stake!

Robert Thomas and the Blues chase the playoffs

My view on the St. Louis Blues continues to evolve as the season progresses. Before the season, I didn't hold the Blues in high regard and didn't believe playoffs were in their future. However, more and more, I'm starting to see the Blues as a potential playoff team, which the betting companies still do not. There are several reasons. Above all, I think their game has improved as the season has gone on. While the underlying numbers aren't pretty, their play has looked significantly better over the last month. It also doesn't hurt that Jordan Binnington in goal is heading towards one of his better seasons, while backup goalie Joel Hofer is also performing really well.

A player I think stands out tremendously but is talked about too little is Robert Thomas of the St. Louis Blues. The 24-year-old first-line center leads the team's internal scoring with 18 goals and 39 assists. However, it's his ability to contribute in all parts of the game that impresses me. It has created positive ripple effects allowing his linemates, Pavel Buchnevich and Jordan Kyrou, to fully shine. Together, the Blues' first line has accounted for 52 goals this season. One of Blues' strengths, however, is that they often have players with offensive skill on the ice. Jake Neighbours has scored 18 goals, Brayden Schenn has 13 goals, and Kevin Hayes has 10 goals. In other words, the Blues have offensive depth and a red-hot Torey Krug, who assisted five goals in the 7-2 win against the Washington Capitals.

What about Morgan Rielly?

The Toronto Maple Leafs continue to be inconsistent. The team should really be held in high regard because the peak level is phenomenal when everything clicks. However, the lowest level is too low. Unlike the Blues, they don't have a stable pair of goalies to "bail out" the team when there are lapses in defense, except possibly for Joseph Woll who has just started training properly for the first time since December. For now, the team still relies on Ilya Samsonov, and the Russian is anything but a safe last line of defense for the Leafs.

The big talk after the last game was Morgan Rielly, who, after Ridley Greig scored with a slap shot into an open net, decided to crosscheck him in the face. A decision that will likely lead to a long suspension for Rielly, and I firmly expect him not to play tonight against the St. Louis Blues. An idiotic decision that deprives Toronto of their most skilled and important defenseman at a stage where the team has not yet secured a playoff spot and is also in a precarious position for a Wild Card spot.

Betting tips and conclusion

Toronto should be seen as clear favorites against the St. Louis Blues, but the question we always need to ask is how big of favorites they should be, and right now, I don't quite agree with the betting companies. Leafs continue to mix strong and weak performances. Offensively, they will put enormous pressure on Binnington or possibly Hofer, but the height Blues have shown in the last month combined with the likely absence of top defenseman Rielly makes me lean towards the visiting team. I honestly don't think we will see any major odds changes before the game starts, as the market doesn't seem to be the biggest fan of the Blues. However, I believe the market isn't entirely correct about St. Louis Blues, whether I'm right or wrong won't be decided by this single match, but I know where I'm placing my money.

I'm betting on St. Louis Blues ML @ +177 at PointsBet!






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