NHL Betting Preview (April 17): Maple Leafs vs Lightning Odds

Photo credit:© Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Nicholas Martin
12 days ago
The Leafs and Lightning will both have nothing to play for in Game 82, and the main storylines surrounding this game revolve around two individual milestones as a result.
Auston Matthews is expected to play in this matchup, as he continues his pursuit of the 70th goal. Nikita Kucherov is also expected to play, as he looks to find his 100th assist.
I’ll outline the relevant game notes below, as well as hand out my best bet.

Maple Leafs vs Lightning Odds

  • Maple Leafs Moneyline Odds: -128
  • Panthers Moneyline Odds: +107
  • Puck Line Odds: Maple Leafs +1.5 (-185), Panthers -1.5 (+155)
  • Game Total: 6 goals (over -120, under +100)
Toronto Maple Leafs
The interesting news surrounding this game obviously starts with Keefe’s decision to include Matthews in the lineup to score his 70th goal. While the chances are low for any player to be injured in one single game, it is still a foolish decision in my opinion.
You don’t need to look any further than the Leafs’ Round 1 opponent in the Boston Bruins for confirmation towards that point. It is widely believed that Patrice Bergeron was injured in the final regular season game of his season last year, prior to the Bruins’ shocking loss to the Panthers.
The Leafs lineup for this game is yet to be confirmed, but we will likely see a number of regulars on the sidelines. Max Domi, Calle Jarnkrok and Bobby McMann will miss the contest for certain.
Ilya Samsonov is expected to be the Leafs goaltender for this game, as he takes the ice for one final tune-up before a critical postseason. Keeping Samsonov’s confidence high with a good start would likely be beneficial for Toronto, given the mental struggles he has exhibited throughout his career. He has played to a -8.1 GSAx and .890 save % across 40 appearances this season.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Aside from Andrei Vasilevskiy, it’s unclear which Lightning skaters will all be resting for this contest. But it seems probable to believe that numerous Lightning pieces will be missing from the lineup, which is an important note handicapping-wise.
The Lightning are officially locked into the top Wildcard spot and will face Florida in the first round. So like like Toronto, there is nothing to do but hope everybody comes out of this game unscathed, and that Nikita Kucherov gets his one-hundredth assist of the season.
Matt Tomkins has been confirmed as the Lightning’s starting goaltender. He has played to a +0.8 GSAx and .891 save % across five appearances this season.
Best Bets for Leafs Lightning
Neither team is playing for anything, so this is a bit of an odd spot to handicap. But there are two plays which I see value with ahead of this meaningless Game 82.
In a normal matchup, I’d bet pushing to bet the Leafs at +125 in Tampa. I outlined here when I picked Tampa to beat Toronto on April 3, that the road teams are above .500 in this series, and that the Leafs have played them well.
+125 is a far longer number than we have seen when the Leafs visited Tampa recently, and even given the rest scenarios, it is still too long.
The Leafs will be starting likely Game One starter Ilya Samsonov here, while the Lightning will go with Matt Tomkins. That’s obviously a notable edge for Toronto. You would also think the group should have urgency to defend well in front of Samsonov, who needs to be mentally right for Game One.
The Leafs also have eight NHL defenders right now, many of whom are of comparable quality. So yes some pieces will rest, but the replacement level drop-off shouldn’t be too bad. Finally, we know Auston Matthews is going to be in the lineup chasing 70 goals.
With those factors in mind, I feel there is value in backing the Leafs at their current price of +125 is a price.
Best Bet: Toronto Moneyline +125 (Play to +120)

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