NHL Odds, Picks, Prediction for Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs: Betting Preview for Game 2 in Toronto (Saturday, May 22)
Claus Andersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Montreal players look on after the injury to John Tavares in Game 1.
- Toronto once again hosts Montreal for Game 2 this North Division playoff matchup beginning at 7 p.m. ET.
- The Canadiens pulled off the surprise upset in Game 1, after the Leafs lost John Tavares to a scary injury.
- Carol Schram is backing Montreal to get another win as Toronto struggles to adjust to Tavares' absence.
Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs Odds
|Maple Leafs Odds||-175|
|Time||Saturday, 7 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Friday afternoon via DraftKings.|
After all the excitement of Canada’s two Original Six clubs meeting in a playoff series for the first time since 1979, a scary injury saw Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares taken off the ice at Scotiabank Arena on a stretcher midway through the first period of Game 1. Tavares spent the night in hospital in Toronto before being released on Friday. He’s now resting at home, but is sidelined indefinitely with a concussion.
While players on both sides were visibly shaken by the incident, the game still had to be played. A shorthanded third-period goal from Paul Byron gave the Canadiens the 2-1 upset win and the early edge in the series.
After cruising to a first-place finish in the North Division, are the Leafs already starting to see the ghosts of their past playoff failures? Or can they #winforJT on Saturday night?
What We Learned In Game 1
As the Pittsburgh Penguins learned in the bubble last year, Carey Price is not the goaltender you want to see at the other end of the ice when the postseason begins.
Despite missing the last 13 games of the regular season with a concussion, Montreal’s No. 1 netminder was back in in All-Star form on Thursday night, turning away 35 of 36 Toronto shots.
Big Shea Weber was also impactful after missing the last eight games of the season with an upper-body injury. He finished the night with a team-high six shots on goal and four of Montreal’s 55 recorded hits, as the Habs executed their predictably physical game.
Montreal sparkplug Brendan Gallagher also returned to the lineup after missing 21 games with a fractured thumb. His impact was more muted, with two shots and three hits, but don’t expect it to stay that way. Gallagher has a knack for getting into the middle of things, especially in the playoffs.
On the Toronto side, do-everything winger Zach Hyman returned to action after missing 11 games with a knee sprain. On a night that saw a total of nine power plays, he logged more than 10 minutes on special teams and finished second among the Leafs with 24:37 of ice time.
Speaking of special teams, the Leafs are staring down a serious power-play problem.
During the first half of the regular season, they lit the lamp 26 times on 83 chances, second in the league with a conversion rate of 31.3%.
Then, something changed. In their final 28 games of the regular season, they scored just five power-play goals on 72 opportunities, 30th in the league at 6.9%.
Not only did the power -play fail to generate the needed scoring to deliver the Game 1 win, it was on the ice for speedy Paul Byron’s shorthanded game winner — a true liability, instead of an asset.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs Best Bet
With just a one-game playoff sample size, it’s wise not to put too much stock in the stats when thinking about a bet for Game 2.
Data from Natural Stat Trick suggests that the Canadiens got a little bit of luck on Thursday, with a PDO of 1.019 (1.00 represents neither lucky or unlucky). Looking at possession and shots, the Leafs had the edge, but the Canadiens came out slightly ahead in high-danger scoring chances.
The bottom line on Saturday will be how the Leafs respond in the wake of Tavares’ injury. Trade deadline acquisition Nick Foligno is expected to fill in down the middle as well as helping to carry some of the leadership load. Along with Jason Spezza and Joe Thornton, the former Columbus Blue Jacket is one of three players on the Leafs’ roster who has previously served as captain on another team.
After he was shut down on Thursday, you might be tempted to put money on Rocket Richard Trophy-winner Auston Matthews to score in Game 2. But at -122 on DraftKings, and with Carey Price in net, those odds aren’t tempting enough to warrant a wager.
With the Leafs now forced to make lineup tweaks, the Habs’ best players appear to be locked and loaded. The odds suggest that Montreal has about a 40% chance to win. You’ve got a good value underdog proposition with the Canadiens, down to about +130.
Pick: Montreal (+145) | Play down to +130.