P. J. Go | Fri 11/03/2022 - 03:17 EST

    NHL 2022 Heritage Classic Picks: Can Maple Leafs Dominate?

    NHL 2022 Heritage Classic Picks: Can Maple Leafs Dominate?
    It's a historic Heritage Classic this Sunday, March 13. The Buffalo Sabres become the first American team to play in and "host" a game as they take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in Hamilton. The Maple Leafs, who are also making their Heritage Classic debut, will be the favourites as they look to rebound after being upset by the Arizona Coyotes. We give our NHL Heritage Classic picks.

    This will be the sixth NHL Heritage Classic and the first one since 2019. Road teams have won the Heritage Classic three of five times making the Buffalo Sabres an intriguing underdog bet on the latest NHL betting odds. But the Toronto Maple Leafs are a Stanley Cup contender and are the favourites for a reason as Har Trophy frontrunner Auston Matthews looks to extend his goal-scoring streak.

    Away Team sports-interaction sports-interaction Home Team

     Toronto Maple Leafs

    TBD TBD Buffalo Sabres

    Toronto Maple Leafs -1.5

    TBD TBD Buffalo Sabres +1.5

    Over 6

    TBD TBD Under 6
    • Date/Time: March 13, 2022, 4:00 PM ET
    • Venue: Tim Hortons Field, Hamilton, ON
    • Broadcast: CBC

    Heritage Classic Betting History: Upsets and Unders

    Underdogs and 'unders' have edged it out in the last NHL Heritage Classics. The underdogs have won three of the last five games while the totals have gone under three of five times. The first Heritage Classic played in the Commonwealth Stadium between the Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens saw the visiting Canadiens edge Edmonton 4-3 despite being a 2.80 underdog. 

    A few seasons later, the Ottawa Senators would beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 as a 2.28 underdog. Then with the last Heritage Classic, the Winnipeg Jets edged the Calgary Flames as a 2.15 underdog in Regina. 

    The total has gone over in two of the last three times the underdog has won meaning the "lesser" team has put up more goals than the oddsmakers expected. The NHL's hockey betting odds can get a bit wonky when playing outdoors as the dynamic changes a bit as the weather will play a factor. 

    We saw this during the first-ever Winter Classic, the American version of the Heritage Classic in which the Buffalo Sabres participated. Snow caused several stoppages of the game, which led to a low-scoring game and a 2-1 shootout victory for the favoured Pittsburgh Penguins. 

    The Sabres did play the Penguins close, however, and there were moments when it seemed like they could have won the game. As a result, it can be sharp to lean on underdogs during these events.

    However, that shouldn't always be the case as the two games the favourites won, it won dominantly. And if the trend continues where underdogs and favourites alternate winning, this year may have the favourite coming out on top.  

    NHL 2022 Heritage Classic Pick: Toronto Maple Leafs vs Buffalo Sabres

    The Toronto Maple Leafs may be the "visitor" here, but you can expect the Tim Hortons Field to be filled with mostly Leafs fans. Heck, Leafs fans are sometimes the majority in Buffalo Sabres' home games in Buffalo so a one-hour drive to Hamilton is an improvement for them. 

    The Leafs and Sabres tend to be involved in high-scoring games. Eight of their last nine games in Buffalo territory have gone over and seven of their last ten games in total have yielded a similar result. These division rivals average over 7.1 goals a game in this span and this is with Toronto only scoring on 11.8 percent of its power-play opportunities. 

    But going outdoors changes the dynamic a little bit. The weather plays a factor here and it's supposed to be a snowy day when the Leafs and Sabres play. This can result in a lower-scoring game than expected as the game may be stopped and kill any momentum each team has.

    Outdoor games tend to result in lower scoring games as well. Nine of the 13 Winter Classic games, including the one Buffalo played in against Pittsburgh, either went under or pushed. Additionally, Buffalo tends to be less potent against its division resulting in seven of their last nine games going under. Expect goals to come at a premium here despite Toronto's offensive potency. SBR's Pick: Under 6 (TBD).

    And speaking of being prolific on offense, it's why Toronto is going to win this game. Yes, they may not score five or six goals but with the game tied heading to the third, bank on the Leafs to get the go-ahead goal and hold on. Their defense is on-and-off and Jack Campbell (or Petr Mrazek) is struggling in net. 

    But the Leafs have won eight of their last 11 games against Buffalo for a reason. The Leafs just have more talent from their top line to their reserves. Buffalo is just 9-17-7 as an underdog against the conference and just 5-9-4 when playing at home. Even if they are at "home" against the Leafs, they are playing in Canada and most of the fans in the stadium will be Leafs fans. 

    Buffalo upset Vegas because they had something to prove against their former star, Jack Eichel. But they have likely spent their energies here and will get outplayed and outshot by Toronto, which is a contender by the recent Stanley Cup Final betting odds. The Leafs should win this one though the outdoor conditions may make this closer on the scoreboard than the actual game on ice. SBR's Pick: Toronto Maple Leafs (TBD).

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      Tag : NHL 2022 Heritage Classic Picks

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