The Toronto Maple Leafs are on the ropes, trailing 3-0 in their second-round NHL playoff series against the Florida Panthers. Operators of Ontario betting sites are probably left to wonder how long they’ll have the hugely popular local sports team wagering option around.
Game 4 of the Eastern Conference series is tonight (7 p.m. Eastern start) in Sunrise, Florida. If the Leafs lose tonight, they can start to warm up the golf carts.
Despite its series deficit, Toronto is a slight favorite with Ontario sports betting apps for Game 4.
Backup Goalie Woll Starting Game 4
Perhaps the big news to come out of Leafs camp going into tonight is the announcement by coach Sheldon Keefe that goalie Ilya Samsonov is out and rookie Joseph Woll will start. The Leafs don’t even want to go with the $4.6 million Matt Murray, who will serve as backup. Samsonov suffered an upper body injury after colliding with teammate Luke Schenn in Game 3.
Woll, a rookie, came up after a strong season backstopping the AHL Toronto Marlies. With the NHL team, he had a solid 6-1-0 regular-season record with a 2.16 goals-against average and .932 save percentage. He has a big frame at 6 feet 3, 203 pounds and he moves well in the crease.
But the Core Four – John Tavares, William Nylander, Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews – need to turn up and earn their $40 million plus in collective salaries. They haven’t so far in this series – zero goals among them – and the pressure has been cranked up high.
As for the odds of overcoming a 3-0 series deficit to win four straight and advance, it’s not unprecedented. But it’s unlikely. That’s reflected in the odds at BetMGM Sportsbook Ontario – Florida is -1200 to win the series while Toronto is facing steep +700 odds.
How Many Teams Have Erased 3-0 Deficits?
Only four teams have ever come back from 3-0 down to win a best-of-seven series in the NHL playoffs. Toronto is one of the franchises, and the only one to pull off the feat in the Stanley Cup final. But that was in 1942, against the Detroit Red Wings, so that’s of no use to today’s players. The others were the 1975 New York Islanders against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL quarterfinals; the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers against the Boston Bruins in the East semifinals; and the 2014 Los Angeles Kings, who overturned a 3-0 series deficit to beat the San Jose Sharks in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs on the way to winning the Stanley Cup.
Nylander told a reporter on Tuesday that he thought tonight will be “fun.”
Toronto Maple Leafs Odds
Caesars Sportsbook Ontario has the Maple Leafs at -115 odds on the moneyline to win tonight and bring the series back to Toronto for Game 5. The Panthers are listed at -105.
The best bet tonight for us is a breakout game from Matthews. He has had a lot of chances, but last season’s Hart Trophy winner just hasn’t been able to bury any. Caesars has Matthews odds scoring (anytime, including overtime) at -115.
PointsBet Ontario Sportsbook has the over/under of 6.5 goals at -131 for over, +110 for under.
NorthStar Bets has Matthews at 70-to-1 odds to win the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP. Harsh!
As for the chances for Toronto to not only overcome this daunting series deficit but match the 2014 Kings in rallying all the way to winning the Stanley Cup? DraftKings Ontario Sportsbook has that at +2500, the longest odds for any of the remaining eight teams.
Betting Trends in Playoffs So Far
In Game 3, which the Panthers won 3-2 in overtime, 73% of Proline customers (incorrectly) picked the Leafs to win, though 53% correctly picked the Total Under 6.5 goals.
And FanDuel Sportsbook Ontario reports a surge in hockey popularity among bettors, even surpassing the NBA playoffs.
The Leafs’ Game 6 victory over Tampa Bay in the first round was FanDuel's No. 1 event based on active users for that night. That trend continued through Game 3 of the series against Florida.
Florida versus Boston (Game 7 in Round 1), and Colorado versus Seattle (Round 1) drew considerable interest, cracking FanDuel’s top five.