The Toronto Maple Leafs enter the final two weeks of the NHL regular season with a firm grasp on second place in the hotly contested Atlantic Division.
Florida, as it has been for the last month, holds the top spot and are -20000 favorites on DraftKings Sportsbook Ontario to hold that lead, an unbettable number because of the Panthers’ 10-point lead over Toronto.
NHL betting oddsmakers continue to see the Leafs, who beat the Washington Capitals 7-3 Thursday night, as a serious threat to win the Stanley Cup. They remain +900 to win the league championship, around the same as they have been for the past couple of months. They face the Senators in Ottawa Saturday night.
Toronto is trying become the first Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup since 1993 and currently have the best odds of Canadian teams.
The main challenge for the Leafs will be getting out of their division in the first two rounds of the playoffs as the top three Eastern Conference teams on the Stanley Cup odds board all play in the Atlantic.
The NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs will be the first with legal and regulated Ontario sports betting.
The Ontario sports betting and iGaming markets went live on April 4, just in time for the stretch run of the NHL season and the playoffs, which begin May 2.
Latest Stanley Cup Odds
|⭐ Colorado Avalanche
|⭐ Florida Panthers
|⭐ Calgary Flames
|⭐ Toronto Maple Leafs
|⭐ Tampa Bay Lightning
|⭐ Carolina Hurricanes
Individual Players Seeing Success
While he didn’t score a goal, superstar forward and current Hart and Rocket Richard Trophy frontrunner Auston Matthews hit another milestone on Thursday as his two assists vaulted him past the 100-point mark for the first time in his career. He became just the third Maple Leaf ever to post 100 or more points in a season, joining Doug Gilmour and Darryl Sittler, both of whom did it twice.
It had been 28 years since a Leaf posted that many points in a season, and Mitch Marner also has a chance to get there as he sits at 91 points on the season with eight games remaining.
Matthews is now -400 to win the Hart Trophy as league MVP, per (bet365 Canada as of April 13), the shortest odds he has had all year. Marner and Matthews form two-thirds of one of the top lines in the league with rookie scoring leader Michael Bunting.
Bunting scored twice in the win over Washington, giving him 22 goals and 59 points on the season, the latter number leading all first-year players in the league. Despite these totals, Bunting remains fourth on the Calder Trophy odds board at +800, trailing Lucas Raymond, Trevor Zegras and likely winner Moritz Seider at the moment. Bunting, though, could see a jump into the top three after another strong game.
Team Success Still the Focus
As the Maple Leafs have surged over the past weeks, their closest rivals in the division race have faltered, giving Toronto a four-point cushion over Tampa Bay for second place and a seven-point lead over the fourth-place Bruins.
The teams’ records over the past 10 games really tell the story with Toronto a sterling 8-1-1, compared to 5-5-0 for Boston and 5-3-2 for the Lightning. Boston is dealing with injuries at the moment as top goal scorer David Pastrnak is currently out of the lineup as is trade deadline acquisition Hampus Lindholm. Patrice Bergeron has also missed time lately, although he is now back in the lineup.
Tampa Bay’s main issue has been goaltending, as the usually sound Andrei Vasilevskiy is in the midst of his worst stretch in a couple of years, even getting pulled in Thursday’s game against Anaheim. These issues should correct themselves for both teams by playoff time, but they have helped Toronto position themselves to open the playoffs at home.
Maple Leafs in Good PositionThe Leafs are locked into the second or third spot in the division, narrowing the list of potential playoff opponents to the Bruins or Lightning.
With their win on Thursday, combined with Boston’s loss to Ottawa, Tampa Bay has a three-point lead on the Bruins and are the most likely matchup for Toronto. Both teams present challenges. The Lightning have a ton of championship experience after winning the last two Stanley Cups. The Bruins have had the Leafs’ number in the playoffs over the past few seasons.
Recent history paints a prettier picture for Toronto as it is 2-0 against the Bruins and 2-1 against Tampa Bay this season. The Leafs will get to test themselves against both of them once more before the end of the year, with a game in Tampa Bay next Thursday and the season finale at home against the Bruins. Those two games could play a big role in determining playoff positioning for all three teams.