Two games into Toronto’s first-round NHL Stanley Cup Playoff series against the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning and there have been positives and negatives aplenty.
The first game was a dominant win for Toronto, followed by a tough loss in the second game on Wednesday. After splitting those two home games, the Maple Leafs now head on the road to play their next two in Tampa.
With the series shifting south Friday night and the Lightning showing off their talent in Game 2, Toronto enters this game as a slight underdog for the first time all series at odds of +100 (Tampa Bay is -120) in Ontario sports betting.
The game is -105 at DraftKings Sportsbook Ontario to go over the total of 6.5, which it did in the second game (a 5-3 win by Tampa Bay). If the officials continue to call penalties the way they did in the first two games, both teams’ power plays will have plenty of opportunities to push this game over that total.
On Wednesday, there were 11 power plays, seven of which went to the Lightning. Toronto is going to have to do a much better job staying out of the box or Victor Hedman & Co. will be looking at another big game.
Leafs Superstars Coming Up Big
On the Toronto side, the Leafs will continue to lean on their superstars, particularly Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. Both are tied for the league lead with five points in these playoffs and have taken advantage of Andrei Vasilevksiy’s less than sharp play that has carried over from the regular season.
Vasilevskiy made some spectacular saves, but has allowed eight goals through two games, so scoring goals won’t be an issue for Toronto. Its league-leading power play from the regular season hasn’t been up to that level, so as crazy as it seems to say, Toronto would probably prefer to play most of the game at even strength and to avoid the special teams battles that the first two games have been.
Michael Bunting returned to the lineup and scored in Game 2 as the Calder Trophy hopeful was back in his regular spot alongside Marner and Matthews on the top line. The trio played excellent at five-on-five and will be looking to lead Toronto to victory.
Campbell Holding His Own in Goal
Leafs goalie Jack Campbell was less than stellar in the second game after a shutout win to start the series on Monday. He showed in that first game that he can outplay Vasilevskiy and with the Toronto offense he can probably get by with allowing a couple of goals. Overall his play has been strong and is a plus for the team going into Game 3.
There is no doubt that Tampa Bay’s win in the second game was a statement that this team isn’t going to be walked over in these playoffs, giving fans the competitive series that was to be expected. Going down to Tampa and winning on the road is a tough ask, but with Matthews and Marner, Toronto has the best two players on the ice and are a value at the current NHL betting odds.
Toronto is trying to become the first Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup in nearly 30 years.