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Tuesday NHL Playoffs Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens Game 4 Odds, Pick, Preview: Back Underdog Montreal Against Powerful Toronto (May 25)

Tuesday NHL Playoffs Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens Game 4 Odds, Pick, Preview: Back Underdog Montreal Against Powerful Toronto (May 25) article feature image

Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images. Pictured: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price dives to stop a shot from Toronto Maple Leafs player Jason Spezza.

  • Montreal hosts Toronto in a crucial Game 4 showdown Tuesday in NHL postseason action.
  • The Maple Leafs, behind the play of goaltender Jack Campbell, earned a 2-1 win in Monday's contest.
  • Matt Russell explains below why he's backing the underdog Canadiens to even the series.

Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens Odds

Maple Leafs Odds-175
Canadiens Odds+145
TimeTuesday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds as of Tuesday morning via BetMGM.

The “Hold my beer’ meme I think is a little played out, but even still I’ll admit that it works a lot. Carey Price is trying to steal this series for the underdog, but Jack Campbell’s response has been for someone to “garder mon Molson.”

.Just as we all assumed, as everyone in Toronto and Montreal was wringing their hands about the respective goaltending situations coming into this series, we’ve got ourselves a duel in the crease from the masked men. Of course.

Let’s take a look at what could be in store entering Tuesday’s pivotal Game 4 showdown between the Toronto Maple Leafs and host Montreal Canadiens.

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Price, Campbell Stealing Spotlight in Tight Series

You never know. If the season had been another week longer, maybe Frederik Andersen would have worked his way back into the starter’s net for the Maple Leafs once the Stanley Cup playoffs began.

Toronto’s incumbent starting goaltender missed much of the latter half of the regular season, which led to Jack Campbell taking over in the net. It was the best season of Campbell’s career, as he was put together a 17-3-2 record, .921 save percentage and a 2.15 goals against average. Plus, he came to the rescue often with a .369 Goals Saved Above Average per 60 minutes.

Even with those numbers, murmurs about Campbell being the guy for the playoffs abounded. 

It was the opposite case for the Canadiens, knowing full well the brass would go with the incumbent starter coming off an injury as soon as he was ready. Price didn’t see any action in the regular season’s final month. That didn’t matter, as the future Hall of Famer was going to start the opener if he was breathing.

However, before Price got hurt, he was hardly taking the breath away of anyone. In 25 games this season, Price held a Goals Saved Above Average of -4.3. That means that a merely average goaltender would have stopped 4-plus more goals than Price. 

Yet, for all the concern, these two are standing on their heads in the first three games of the series. We probably thought that Price had the save of the series in the opener, when he slid, sprawling, cross-crease to thwart a Maple Leafs rush that seemed to be a sure goal.

Two games later though, Price pulled a rabbit out of his hat with a stick save that literally only the stick had a chance to make when he desperately knocked a Jason Spezza shot out of the air in front of the net that was 99.99% air.

While the spectacular has been Price’s department, the solid has been the realm of Campbell. The victim of maybe the goal of the playoffs at the hands of Paul Byron in Game 1, Campbell has given up just three goals the rest of the way. On Monday, he stopped 27 of 28 Montreal shots, including a series of late chances that would have tied the game.

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Montreal, Toronto Lacking High-Danger Chances

If you hadn’t been watching these games, you might not know that the goaltenders have been full value for the number in their saves column.

After all, as we dive into the metrics here to determine a fair price on these two teams, I can’t help but notice the lack of true High-Danger Chances at even-strength. The Leafs are averaging 6.33 HDC, with just 4.33 for the Canadiens. 

This is the type of statistical indicator that should make the Montreal happy. It’s not a secret that their game plan coming into the series was to make these games as boring as possible.

While Price’s heroics have kept that from being the case, it was a standard seeing-eye shot from the point by William Nylander that was the true difference-maker in game three, and thus the series so far.

Through a screen, and perhaps a deflection, the puck found its way inside Carey Price’s post. While not the technical game-winning goal, these goals that are more lucky than good are going to have to go the Habs way if they’re going to drag this series longer than five games.

Simply put, if you’re going to bank on no one getting much in the way of High-Danger Chances during 5-on-5, you’ll need to get the lucky ones to win.

However, the first part of the plan has worked for Montreal. The Canadiens successfully made two of the three games in this series more about the luck of a dice roll seen more frequently at the casino just over the bridge. The first game saw the High-Danger Chance split evenly at just five apiece, and in Game 3, the Maple Leafs held Montreal a 7-6 edge.

Toronto Maple Leafs standout William Nylander, right, celebrates with the bench after scoring a goal against the Montreal Canadiens during Monday’s game in Montreal. Photo credit: Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images.

In my preview of this series, I talked about the key question being what version of the Canadiens would we see in this series? Given that Montreal had a good first half and a bad (second) half of the season, we’re certainly seeing the defense we saw at the start of the season.

One that was frustrating because of their inability to convert offensive High-Danger Chances. However, when these teams met up this season, the pricing for the games is worth looking at. 

Here are the odds for the early season matchups:

  • Jan. 13: Montreal +125 / Toronto -145
  • Feb. 10: Toronto -105 / Montreal -115
  • Feb. 13: Montreal +125 / Toronto -145
  • Feb. 20: Toronto -110 / Montreal -110

Clearly, the Maple Leafs were favored in their home games, while when the games were played in Montreal, it was a virtual Pick’em at the sports books.

Then, the Canadiens hit the skids due to a super-condensed schedule and a rash of injuries to a group of players that included Price, Shea Weber and Brendan Gallagher. 

Here’s the pricing for the late season matchups:

  • May 3: Toronto -155 / Montreal +135
  • May 6: Montreal +165 / Toronto -190
  • May 8: Montreal +180 / Toronto -210
  • May 25: Toronto -190 / Montreal +160

The last line was Monday’s closing price after having Toronto bet up from -160. So there’s two pretty drastically different pricing systems at play here.

While I can see how the late season ratings came up with those prices, even if the Canadiens are showing a ton offensively through three games in this series, I still think the version of Montrealparticipating in this series is closer to the team that was priced like it was in January and February.

Betting Analysis & Pick

The Maple Leafs paid off those who were willing to bet them up in Monday’s crucial win.

Could those bettors have known Cole Caufield would hit the crossbar on the power play in the first few minutes of the game? Did they know that Corey Perry’s pass would slide by the stick of Nick Suzuki on the Habs best chance to tie it with the goalie pulled?

No, of course not. That’s the thin line in these Stanley Cup playoff games, one in which I think still exists in this series.

My “Let’s Do That Hockey” model still makes Toronto the favorite on the road, but at a fair price of -123 odds compared to Montreal at +123 going into Game 4 of the series.

When backing an underdog in a single game, I’m looking for at least a 3% edge, and given that we received as high as +165 odds on Montreal, we should have no problem finding a price better than the +140 odds required to confirm an edge with the home underdog.

Pick: Canadiens (+140 or better)

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