NHL Betting Preview (May 2): Bruins vs Maple Leafs Odds

Photo credit:Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Nicholas Martin
1 month ago
The Leafs enter Thursday’s matchup having lost seven straight series deciding games on home ice. Be it an opportunity to close a series out, or to stay alive, the Leafs just have not showed out in front of the home faithful.
The Bruins recent playoff history likely shouldn’t instill much confidence in their fanbase, either. They blew a 3-1 lead in last years first round to the Panthers, and lost in seven games to Carolina the year before.
I’ll outline the relevant game notes below, as well as hand out my best bet.

Maple Leafs vs Bruins Odds

  • Bruins Moneyline Odds: -120
  • Maple Leafs Moneyline Odds: +100
  • Puck Line Odds: Bruins +1.5 (-270), Maple Leafs -1.5 (+220)
  • Game Total: 5.5 goals (over -120, under +100)
Boston Bruins
Would it be fair to say that if this series heads back to Boston for Game 7, it’s the Bruins who would be feeling the greater pressure to pull out the win?
That might be the case, because blowing a 3-1 series lead in a second straight playoff to a Leafs team that supposedly can’t play playoff hockey would be about as embarrassing as it gets.
Suddenly we are hearing lots of media noise surrounding the idea that Jim Montgomery’s Bruins sides have not been able to close out series. Any notion that Montgomery hasn’t done a good job this season and even in this series, seems pretty unfair.
Everybody expected a significant drop-off from the Bruins this season, based largely on the losses of Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci down the middle. That perceived drop-off hasn’t really come to fruition though, and the excellent defensive structure displayed by Montgomery’s side this season is a key reason why.
Tremendous goaltending has been a huge part of the Bruins success in this series and this season, but it’s also true that they have done a good job allowing mainly pressured shots with limited east-west movement.
They have allowed only 2.30 xGA/60 at even strength in the series, and 3.24 xGA/60 across all strengths. Both of those rates are slightly worse than the Leafs own, but Jeremy Swayman has been marvellous, stopping +9.6 goals above expected with a .952 save %.
The Bruins penalty kill has conceded only one goal in the series, while their powerplay has clicked at 42.9% of the time. Special teams is the most obvious reason for the Bruins 3-2 lead, and a big part of why they are vastly outperforming the Leafs in those aspects is because of the goaltending disparity.
It looks like Matt Grzelcyk is going to slide back out of the lineup in favour of Kevin Shattenkirk for this matchup.
Toronto Maple Leafs
If Joseph Woll can perform at the level we saw in Game 5, and the Leafs can nullify the Bruins powerplay they should feel quite comfortable with their chances on sending this series back to Boston.
The Leafs have allowed just 2.29 xGA/60 in even strength play in the series. The eye-test agrees that their defensive play at even strength has been quite strong, and that thought would probably be gaining more traction if the team had managed a few more timely goals.
Toronto played about as good a road game as you could possibly ask for in Game 5. You could take that as both a positive, or a negative. Chances are we won’t see the Leafs generate significantly more than they did in that matchup tonight, and the Leafs were still one bounce away from being eliminated in that game.
With Auston Matthews again confirmed out for tonight’s game, it should again prove difficult for the Leafs to generate a lofty offensive output.
Not that Matthews presence has changed that thought much in recent history, anyways. The Leafs have averaged just 1.91 goals for per game over their last 12 playoff games.
The narrative that the Leafs can’t defend effectively continues to be widely over stated. When the games have mattered, it’s been their inability to create timely offense that has lost them all of these important games. Their defensive cores have not been a strong point in recent years, but not because of an inability to prevent chances.
It looks like Sheldon Keefe will employ the same lineup as we saw in Game 5, while Joseph Woll will start again in goal.
Best Bets for Bruins vs Leafs
Whether the Leafs are able to finally come up with a clutch win on home ice or not, it seems probable that this matchup will follow a similar game script to what we have seen in other critical playoff games in the Keefe era.
Particularly considering the way that this specific series has been contested, and the way that Game 5 played out.
The Leafs have consistently hung around in all of their most important recent playoff matchups, and have mainly been able to prevent high offensive totals for their opponent. In this particular series the Leafs have defended quite well, especially in even strength play.The problem continues to be an inability to create significant any kind offensive outputs. With Matthews on the sidelines and Jeremy Swayman in incredible form, it seems likely that this game should be another nail-biter.
There are a lot of ways you could attack the idea that this is likely to be a one goal game which features a low total of goals. Chances are if someone wins by two goals, it is only going to be because of an empty netter.
My personal favorite is betting the Bruins +2.5 parlayed with the game total to stay under 6.5 at -125. It’s very hard to see the Bruins ever losing this game by a margin, and I believe even most two goal wins for the Leafs would involve an empty net being hit. It seems safe to expect both teams to lock it down defensively again, and that we get another low total.
Best Bet: Bruins +2.5/Game Total Under 6.5 Parlay (-125 Bet365, Play to -130)

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