Alright Leafs fans with a taste for Ontario sports betting. Do you want the good news, or more good news?
The good news – the Leafs clinched a playoff berth last night, by way of the Florida Panthers' 5-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators. Tomorrow night they take on those same Panthers, at Scotiabank Arena. The Leafs sit fourth in the Eastern Conference, with 97 points.
The Panthers, ninth place in the Eastern Conference and at risk of falling out of a playoff spot, have lost four straight. NorthStar Bets Ontario Sportsbook has the Leafs moneyline -159, and the Panthers +130.
And more good news for the Leafs – we have known for a month now that their likely first-round opponent will be the Tampa Bay Lightning. With eight games left in their season, the Lightning are in the dumps as well, losers of four straight, 10-11-5 since the start of their February schedule.
Tanner Jeannot, an expensive acquisition from the Nashville Predators at the trade deadline (costing them five draft picks and defenseman Cal Foote), has not delivered for Tampa – zero goals and a minus-6 in 15 games.
Deep Roster On Full Display
The Leafs? Yes, it’s true they haven’t won a playoff round across Ontario sportsbooks apps since 2004. That’s an embarrassment. However, it feels different this year, and we’ve been around long enough, seen all the losing and disappointment over the decades, not to throw around positivity lightly.
It feels like by adding Ryan O’Reilly, Noel Acciari and Luke Schenn, they’ve added playoff pedigree and grit. Getting Jake McCabe has further solidified their defense since he came over from Chicago at the trade deadline, with a plus 3 in 13 games.
Sam Lafferty, also acquired from Chicago, has solidified the bottom six. That’s what we’ve seen since the February trade deadline, plus a team that’s third in the league in power play percentage (25.7) and 14th in penalty killing percentage (80.4)
While a late season swoon doesn’t guarantee playoff failure, it’s a tough time of the year to go cold, and Tampa Bay might be ripe for the taking this year. Getting O’Reilly back from a broken finger before the playoffs (he’s been out since March 3) will be key, since the more O’Reilly (a Stanley Cup winner and playoff MVP with St. Louis in 2019) gets into game shape, the better. Expect O’Reilly to get in a few games.
Auston Matthews has also gotten hot as of late – he has a six-game point streak, goals and five assists over that period. For the first time this season Matthews looks like the 60-goal sniper from last season. Matthews' hot streak has seen the Leafs' odds to win the Stanley Cup at BetMGM Ontario Sportsbook move to +900 from +1000 at the end of February.
Who Protects The Net?
The unknown against Tampa Bay will be the goaltending. Matt Murray, back from injury, is 14-8-2 on the season, with a 2.97 GAA and .905 save percentage, and has looked much stronger as of late. Ilya Samsonov is the likely No. 1, though, at 24-9, 2.46 GAA and a .914 save percentage.
Who do you go with against Tampa’s Andrei Vasilevskiy, a multiple Stanley Cup winner?
In their 3-2 win over the Nashville Predators Sunday night, 84% of Proline players had picked the Leafs to win.
DraftKings Ontario Sportsbook currently has the Leafs +500 to win the Eastern Conference, alongside the Carolina Hurricanes at +500, both trailing the Boston Bruins, who sit today at +175.