Thursday NHL Odds, Picks, Predictions: Lightning vs. Maple Leafs Betting Preview
Claus Andersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Auston Matthews.
- Odds for Maple Leafs vs. Lightning continue to move in Toronto's favor, as the Leafs opened at around -130 at most books and are up to -135 and even -140 at some shops.
- The total has also dropped from 6 to 5.5 -- a number we don't usually see for Maple Leafs games. Its just the sixth time a Toronto regular season total has been 5.5 or lower since the start of 2019.
- See how we're betting Leafs vs. Lightning below.
Updated Lightning vs. Leafs Odds
|Maple Leafs Odds||-135|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL odds here.|
The Lightning got off to a slow start, but are quickly finding their groove again. They’ve won three in a row, most recently defeating the Washington Capitals 3-2 on Monday.
Toronto, like its counterparts, are coming into this bout with a three-game winning streak. A team that is known for their offensive firepower, the Leafs are desperately trying to right the wrongs of last season’s collapse in the playoffs.
Lightning Hitting Their Stride
You’d be hard pressed to find an organization that’s in better shape than the Bolts, looking to become the first team to win three straight Cups since the 1980s.
But not only have they lost their whole third line, who were critical in winning both cups, but superstar Nikita Kucherov is out for an extended period of time. Every team hits a bump in the road at some point, but the Bolts are proving why they are the cream of the crop, showing few signs of slowing down.
At 5 on 5, Tampa has been pretty decent, but not as good as one would expect. They’re 13th in Expected Goals with a 51.26 xGF%, and ninth in high danger chances with 81. In recent years, the Bolts’ power play was one of the more dominant in the league, but this season to start off they’ve been a bottom 15 team. Missing Kucherov definitely plays a part in that, but with the talent they have, I can see them picking it back up.
Andrei Vasilevskiy is the best goaltender in the world. There’s no secret about that. The former Vezina winner has posted a .915 SV% with a modest 2.3 Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx), which is unlike him, but I expect him to pick it back up. I don’t see backup Brian Elliott playing since Toronto does pack a punch, but if he does, it will tilt things further in the Leafs’ favor.
Maple Leafs Thriving at Even Strength
The Leafs always seem to be the center of hockey discussion. After all, they play in the “Hockey Mecca.” Last year they were Cup favorites, but blew a 3-1 lead to Montreal in the first round, forcing everyone in Southern Ontario to lose their collective minds.
Don’t get it twisted, Toronto has some of the best young players in the game. Auston Matthews is a top three player, Mitch Marner is as talented as they come, and captain John Tavares will consistently give you 30 goals a year.
Offensively, they play a similar game to Tampa, with more high danger chances. Even though they struggled to start the year, the Leafs always managed to put opponents on their heels. They’re a top-10 team in expected goals with a 54.36 xGF%, and the No. 1 team in high danger chances with 116. The Lightning don’t allow many high-danger chances.
Toronto has received quality goaltending from Jack Campbell, who endeared himself to fans last year. The former first-round pick by Dallas in 2010 is finally getting his feet under him, and he’s coming into the season with a .929 SV% and a 3.2 GSAx. All signs are pointing to Campbell being the Leafs’ goalie of the future.
Lightning vs. Maple Leafs Pick
This should be an even and exciting matchup. You have two teams with high-powered offenses and legitimate goaltenders square off, which should keep the fans and bettors on the edge of their seats.
One three-game winning streak will have to end tonight. Even though Tampa has the Cups, I think the Leafs are priced well enough tonight to bet.
Pick: Toronto Maple Leafs (-130)