logo

NHL Betting Preview (May 5): Maple Leafs vs Bruins Game 7 Odds

alt
Photo credit:Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
Nicholas Martin
1 month ago
The Leafs will look to win a Game 7 for the first time since 2004 and finish off a Boston Bruins team that they have not beaten in a playoff series since 1959. While Toronto’s history should instill some nervous energy into the Leafs and their passionate fanbase, the Bruins can’t feel very comfortable either.
The Bruins have lost three straight Game 7’s themselves, and will become the first team in NHL history to blow 3-1 leads in back-to-back playoff series if they can not come up with a result tonight.
I’ll outline the relevant game notes below, as well as hand out my best bet for this fascinating matchup.

Maple Leafs vs Bruins Odds

  • Maple Leafs Moneyline Odds: +120
  • Bruins Moneyline Odds: -140
  • Puck Line Odds: Maple Leafs +1.5 (-240), Bruins -1.5 (+195)
  • Game Total: 5.5 goals (over +110, under -130)
Toronto Maple Leafs
After two gritty, well-earned victories, the Leafs now have the chance to create the kind of history that they have typically been on the wrong side of.
Joseph Woll has shined in his two starts since entering the series (and a brief appearance in Game 4) with a .964 save %. Woll’s sharp play has allowed two dominant defensive performances to be accurately reflected in the final scoreline. The Leafs allowed just 47 shots against in regulation over the last two games, and in minutes where they have not held a lead allowed next to nothing.
In the series, the Leafs have played to a 51.36% expected goal share at even strength. The eye test would tell you that mark is at least fair, and that they have been the sharper side at 5-on-5.
The Bruins’ powerplay has clicked at 45% in the series, while the Leafs have scored only a single goal (5% success rate).
As the series gets into the later games, though, NHL referees tend to swallow the whistles to an extent. Players are also less keen to try and engage physically and risk-taking season-altering penalties. For those reasons, we saw special teams play less of a factor in Game 5 and particularly in Game 6, and it seems likely that tonight’s game will be played mainly at even strength as well.
While the Leafs should feel good about their performances in Games 5 and 6, it still has to be frightening to consider that they were only a bounce or two away from elimination once again. Their offence continues to struggle to create much of anything meaningful come playoff time and has averaged only 1.93 goals for per game over the last 13 playoff matchups.
The core four and other offensive stars do deserve ridicule for the consistent lack of production, particularly on the man advantage. Still, a big part of the Leafs’ playoff offensive struggles revolve around Sheldon Keefe’s tactics, and icing a defensive core that does not help drive offence. More threatening point shots, as well as stronger play at the offensive blueline, would help improve offensive results. A lack of effective four-man rushes also hurts offensive potency, and increased efficiency in terms of controlled zone exits would also be of help.
Those changes might not be in the cards for this current team, but the excellent team defensive play is going to provide them an avenue to take any matchup. It seems plausible that Auston Matthews is going to remain out of the lineup for this game. Noah Gregor was effective in Game 6, and we should count on him remaining on the fourth line in tonight’s game as a result.
Boston Bruins
Can Jim Montgomery and the Bruins figure out a way to generate more quality chances in even-strength play in this matchup?
That has to be the main question surrounding this game for Boston. Allowing two goals against in back-to-back games should not often mean consecutive losses. They have struggled with the Leafs’ forecheck over the last two games, which has led to prolonged periods of play in the defensive zone, and prevented much going the other way.
As their power play has finally been unable to break through in the last two matchups, it has become more apparent which side is playing at a higher level in terms of even-strength play. The Leafs owned considerably better numbers at even strength over the last three months of the season, which was one of the reasons they seemingly had a chance in this series.
The Bruins have still been able to hang around due to elite goaltending and the ability to limit true Grade “A” scoring chances against though. Even in two of their worst performances, things were still only a bounce or two away from being different. That could be viewed as a positive for Bruins faithful.
Danton Heinen is considered a game-time decision for this matchup. If he cannot return, we should expect the Bruins to ice the same lineup as Game 6.
Best Bets for Leafs vs Bruins
The Leafs have earned the right to play in this potentially historic Game 7 with two extremely sharp defensive performances in Games 5 and 6. Throughout the whole series, the Leafs’ defensive play at even strength has been tremendous, and that strength should continue to shine through so long as Woll puts forth a steady performance in goal.
The gap in special teams play between these two sides may prove to be less critical once again in a game where power plays will likely be at somewhat of a premium as we saw in Games 5 and 6.
While it’s fair to expect a little more from the Bruins in this do-or-die Game 7, it’s still hard to imagine this game won’t be another low-event slog. If this game looks somewhat comparable to the two games before, the betting value will lie with the under 5.5 and the Leafs as an underdog at +120.
This series has seen just 4.5 goals for per game on average. It’s hard to envision any notable tactical changes from either side at this point, which makes me believe it’s unlikely this game opens up very much.  Per Action Network’s BetLabs database Game 7 NHL under’s are 41-26-9 and +12.3 ROI, and this specific game looks like a good time to ride that profitable trend.
Outside of the angle that maybe it’s built into the Leafs’ DNA to “choke” in this spot, it’s hard for me to see why they don’t deserve to be priced closer to the Bruins given the way this entire series has been contested. There is value backing the Leafs at +120 in a game that should play out in coin-flip fashion.
Best Bet: Toronto Maple Leafs Moneyline +120 (Play to +110), Under 5.5 -130 (Play to -135)

Check out these posts...