It’s been a consistently back-and-forth series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning. The series heads back to Toronto for the deciding Game 7 Saturday night.
Tampa Bay continued its trend of following up a playoff loss with a win when Brayden Point ended Game 6 Thursday in overtime. Heading into the final game of the series, Toronto is a slight Ontario sports betting favorite at home and can be found at -125 on most sportsbooks.
The Leafs can be bet on the moneyline (covering a spread of -1.5) at +175 or to win in regulation time at +125 at DraftKings Sportsbook Ontario. The over (-115) and under (-105) is set at 6.5. The under cashed in Game 1 as Toronto won 5-0, but the over has cashed in every game since as Andrei Vasilevskiy and Jack Campbell have both been beatable and both offenses are full of superstars.
Toronto is looking to become the first Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup since 1993 and currently have some the best odds of Canadian teams, along with the Calgary Flames.
Lightning-Leafs Series Schedule
- Game 1, May 2 in Toronto: Leafs 5, Lightning 0
- Game 2, May 4 in Toronto: Lightning 5, Leafs 3
- Game 3, May 6 in Tampa: Leafs 5, Lightning 2
- Game 4, May 8 in Tampa: Lightning 7, Leafs 3
- Game 5, May 10 in Toronto: Leafs 4, Lightning 3
- Game 6, May 12 in Tampa: Lightning 4, Leafs 3 OT (Series tied 3-3)
- Game 7: Saturday, 7 p.m. in Toronto.
Top Line Excelling for Leafs
There are plenty of positives coming into this game for Toronto and the biggest one continues to be the play of Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. They once again dominated play at even strength, carrying an expected goal share over 65% when they were on the ice together despite spending most of their time one the ice against Tampa Bay’s top shutdown line of Brayden Point, Alex Killorn and Anthony Cirelli and against Victor Hedman on the blueline.
Now back at home with the last change, Toronto Coach Sheldon Keefe will once again aim to get the duo out in more favorable matchups, a strategy that worked perfectly in the Game 5 win where they had an absurd 87% share of the expected goals.
With Tampa Bay rolling out three solid scoring lines the Leafs will need to keep pace and as usual they will look to captain John Tavares and William Nylander on the second line to provide some additional scoring. They started the series slow but have since stepped up with a few strong games in a row. Morgan Rielly has been chipping in offensively from the blueline and will need to keep that up as well as try to keep the Tampa Bay offense in line.
Spotlight on the Goaltenders
As has been the case all series, the battle of the goaltenders has been competitive but not necessarily great as both starters have below average numbers, leading to so many games hitting the over.
Even in his wins, defending Conn Smythe Trophy winner Vasilevskiy has looked average but until proven otherwise he is the best big game goalie in the league. Vasilevskiy made a habit out of shutting out his opponents in elimination games last playoffs, including in a 1-0 win to clinch the Stanley Cup last summer.
If that version of Vasilevskiy shows up it will be a much tougher game for Toronto to win but nothing about his performance over the last month has shown that a game like that is to be expected. Campbell will no doubt be looking to have a performance similar to his dominant game one shutout but as long as he keeps Tampa Bay under three goals he should grab a win here.
Updated Stanley Cup Odds
Who You Should Bet
Aside from the pattern of this series with both teams swapping wins all of the trends from recent years point to Tampa Bay winning this game. The Lightning have been great in elimination games and they’ve won the past two Stanley Cups.
Toronto infamously hasn’t been out of the first round since 2004 and lost three straight games to Montreal to lose its first-round series last year after going up 3-1 on the Canadiens. However, Toronto has outplayed Tampa Bay for the bulk of the series and also proved to be the better team over the course of the regular season.
At -125 to win, a bet on Toronto to win Game 7 should be a profitable one for NHL bettors in Ontario.