by OddsShark (@OddsShark)
History and home ice are not on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ side, but a look at the advanced stats suggests they are a value play in an almost must-win Game 5 against the Boston Bruins. The Maple Leafs are the +125 away underdog (bet $100 to win $125) with the Bruins a -145 home favourite in the NHL betting lines for Friday, while there is a 6.0-goal total.
The series is tied 2-2, with each team having won once at home and once on the road, and the Maple Leafs need to do the latter at least once to win their first playoff round since the NHL’s salary-cap era began in 2005/06. This season, they are 7-5 as a road underdog of +110 to +140, but the Bruins are 12-3 as a home favourite of -130 to -160.
Boston tied the series for the second time with a 6-4 win in Game 4 on Wednesday. Auston Matthews scored two goals for the Maple Leafs, while Travis Dermott and Zach Hyman also scored. It was the first time in the series that the total had finished OVER.
The Maple Leafs have been able to use their speed and quick puck movement to negate the size advantage of the Bruins, with NaturalStatTrick.com crediting Toronto with 54.55 percent of the scoring chances in the series’ four games and 52.86 percent of the high-danger chances. That includes a series-most 33 shot attempts coming from Matthews. Nothing is guaranteed, but that would suggest the Leafs are more due for some puck luck.
Four of the Maple Leafs’ last six playoff games in Boston have finished OVER, according to the OddsShark NHL Database. The teams also went OVER in two of the final three games of their 2018 playoff series that went the distance, suggesting that both of these teams believe that holding back is counter-productive against an opponent with abundant natural offense.
Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen has a 3.03 goals-against average and .917 save percentage through the first four games of the series. The Bruins’ Tuukka Rask has a 2.78 GAA and .921 save percentage.
Both teams are on a run of power-play production and porous penalty killing. Over their last 10 games, the Maple Leafs have a 30.43 percent power play while killing off only 64.29 percent off their man disadvantages, while the Bruins’ respective 10-game marks on special teams are 35.71 percent on the power play and 69.57 percent on the penalty kill.
Game 6 is at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena on Sunday, and if necessary, the Bruins would host Game 7 on Tuesday.