Maple Leafs vs. Bruins Playoff Odds, Betting Preview: A Clash of Styles
John E. Sokolowski, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Zach Hyman, David Pastrnak
- The Boston Bruins are -155 favorites over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Round 1 of the NHL Playoffs.
- Michael Leboff breaks down the odds and analyzes a matchup between an offensive juggernaut and a defensive force.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Boston Bruins Series Betting Odds
- Maple Leafs odds: +135
- Bruins odds: -155
This is the second year in a row that the Leafs and Bruins will meet in Round 1 of the NHL Playoffs. Boston won the 2018 edition of this fixture, 4-3, but not before blowing a 3-1 series lead.
The Bruins also won three out of four games this season, though the last time these two teams played was back on Jan. 12. I wouldn’t put too much stock into the head-to-head matchups, nor should you care that Boston won this series last season.
What you should care about is that, even though these are two of the strongest teams in the league, the odds suggest that Boston wins this series 58.8% of the time.
For most of the season, we knew this matchup was coming. The Bruins and Leafs are both fantastic teams, but they had the misfortune of playing in the Atlantic Division with the Tampa Bay Lightning, who ran way with the Atlantic before the holidays.
The most impressive thing about the Bruins is how they have handled a litany of injury problems again in 2018-19.
Patrice Bergeron, Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, David Pastrnak, David Backes, Matt Grzelcyk and Jake DeBrusk have all missed at least 13 games this season. The fact that this team still put up 107 points despite all of those key injuries is ridiculous.
In terms of 5v5 goal differential, Toronto and Boston are neck and neck. Each team outscores their opponents, on average, by a shade over a half-goal per 60 minutes. How they get those results, though, tells the story of an unstoppable force and an immovable object.
Boston’s biggest strength is its defense and structure. The B’s rank at — or near — the top of the league in suppressing scoring chances and shot attempts. This is nothing new, of course, as the Bruins have suffocated opponents for years and their top line (Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak) has been the toughest unit to play against in the entire NHL for a while now.
That trio will have to be great all series, though, as the Maple Leafs boast an elite group of forwards led by Auston Matthews, John Tavares and Mitch Marner. It will be interesting to see which one of Matthews or Tavares gets the unenviable task of dealing with Bergeron.
With all of their high-end talent, the Maple Leafs have no problem challenging their opponents to beat them in a back-and-forth game because they know with their forwards and Frederik Andersen in net, they will win those games more often than not.
That being said, this is not the Bruins’ first rodeo and this team is well-drilled to handle high-octane opponents. Boston is able to take games against the most unpredictable and chaotic opponents and turn them into rock fights.
The B’s usually make life pretty easy for both of their goalies (it looks like Tuukka Rask will get the Game 1 nod over Jaroslav Halak), but there is no denying that Andersen is the best goalie in this series by a good margin.
Andersen’s play has made up for a leaky, high-risk Toronto defense all season and, if he’s on, the Leafs will have much more than a puncher’s chance.
In terms of special teams, these two squads are pretty close. Boston’s power play operated at 26.1% (3rd) while Toronto’s clocked in at 21.9 (9th). On the penalty kill, the B’s and Buds saw nearly identical, middle-of-the-pack results.
The odds for this series opened at -140/+120 at the Westgate, so it’s clear that bettors are backing the B’s to come out on top. At the current prices, a bet on the Leafs is the only option, but I’m not excited about betting against the Bruins in a best-of-seven.
Odds courtesy of the Westgate SuperBook and current as of Sunday evening.