Welcome back to another day of NHL Predictions. Each day, Last Word on Hockey takes a look at the games that are happening and gives our predictions for each one, breaking down head-to-head and other factors that may play in. We also have a featured game of the day, which is considered must-watch TV. Today’s featured game is the Toronto Maple Leafs vs Anaheim Ducks. Be sure to check out more NHL predictions in the coming days. Be sure to check out our other game on NHL Predictions for today.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Anaheim Ducks
Head-to-Head: Maple Leafs 0-0 Ducks
TV: Bally Sports West; Sportsnet; ESPN+
The Leafs Story
Our only game of NHL predictions has the Leafs looking to keep momentum going in Southern California. Martin Jones notched the shutout in the last game out against the Los Angeles Kings. This likely means Dennis Hildeby will get the expected start. However, always check social media before locking in a fantasy starter in goal. This is a big moment for Hildeby, who is 22 years old and a former fourth-round pick in 2022.
William Nylander continued his hot first half with two goals to get him close to the 20-goal mark. Nylander is making a case for himself to get that massive payday in the coming months. Auston Matthews is a goal away from 30 once again and the Leafs power play is one to be feared. Toronto is seventh with the man advantage, but only 21st on the penalty kill.
The Leafs defence is going to have to step up to give Hildeby all the time he needs to adjust to the speed of the NHL. It’s a tall ask for the young players, but hopefully he can help the Leafs get the victory.
The Ducks Story
Anaheim comes in with losses in four of the last five games. Scoring has been a problem with the Ducks in recent weeks as they are 29th in goals for. John Gibson is the expected starter for the Ducks, who are also 24th in goals allowed. Anaheim got off to a great start to the season, but the wheels have come off for this younger team that’s still in the middle of a rebuild.
Frank Vatrano has 17 goals in a very good season for the Massachusetts native. Ryan Strome leads the team in assists with 17, but the Ducks are going to need some of their young players like Trevor Zegras and others to start scoring goals again.
Anaheim is in the middle of the pack when it comes to special teams. The Ducks are 16th on the penalty kill and 17th when it comes to cashing in on power play chances.
It’s always hard to tell if a young goalie is going to rise to the occasion in his first start. However, the Leafs have a really good offence and the Ducks have trouble stopping pucks from going in the net. Gibson is a good goalie, but the defence in front of him still struggle. Toronto should give Hildeby his first NHL win.
Prediction: Leafs win 5-2.
Prop Bet of the Nights
We’ll stay with Matthews for our prop bet of the night. Matthews is closing in on another 30-goal season and we feel he gets the job done on the West Coast. If you want to play it safe, you can always do the 0.5 points instead of sticking your neck out on the goal prop bet.
For Anaheim, we like Zegras getting an assist tonight. Give him a look on the over of 0.5 points as well.
Main photo by: Dan Hamilton – USA TODAY Sports
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The post NHL Predictions: Jan. 3 w/ Toronto Maple Leafs vs Anaheim Ducks appeared first on Last Word On Hockey.