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Thursday NHL Playoffs Game 5 Odds, Picks for Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs : Betting Value Sitting on Total in Showdown (May 27)

Thursday NHL Playoffs Game 5 Odds, Picks for Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs : Betting Value Sitting on Total in Showdown (May 27) article feature image

Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Carey Price.

  • The Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs will go to battle in Game 5 their playoff series on Thursday night.
  • The Maple Leafs have figured out how to play the Canadiens' style of hockey, which does not bode well for Montreal.
  • Check out Matt Russell's betting guide below, complete with updated odds and a pick.

Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs Odds

Canadiens Odds +200
Maple Leafs Odds -250
Over/Under 5.5 (+105 / -130)
Time | TV Thursday, 7 p.m. ET | NBCSN
Odds as of Wednesday evening and via BetMGM.

It’s a game of inches, they say. Everyone says this about every sport.

I suppose I’m here to tell you it applies most to hockey. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t, but when you’re dealing with piece of vulcanized rubber flying around an ice rink, those inches tend to make a difference. 

In Game 3, of the Canadiens’ series with the Maple Leafs, Cole Caufield hit the crossbar early, and instead of “bar down,” it went bar up and safely out of play. That inch or so too high was the difference between nothingness and an early lead for the defense-first Habs, along with a sheepish Alex Galchenyuk, who opened his first shift with a four-minute high sticking penalty.

One night later, Galchenyuk is the subject of glory amongst Leaf nation after racking up a goal and two assists, and just like that, no one remembers how close the former Canadien came to drawing the ire of his own fan base instead of his former one.

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Canadiens Know Their Weakness

If Caufield gets the downward bounce in that play of inches, a jaw-dropping stat may not get progressively worse.

Carey Price has the worst goal support of any Stanley Cup Playoffs goaltender in the last seven seasons at an absurd less than two goals per game. He got only one goal from his team in Game 3 and not a single one in Game 4 as the Habs were shut out. Price is trying to steal the series, but his teammates drove the getaway car away in a panic before Price could hop in with the bank money. 

The Canadiens’ plan was to play low-scoring games and hope the bounces that hockey’s famous for went their way.  

My “Let’s Do That Hockey” model, as heard on “THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast” made the Leafs the favorite in this series — but not that much of a favorite if the Habs deployed the plan they started the season with.

They have done that but just haven’t gotten those bounces through three games. In the fourth, the even-strength high-danger chance totals got out of hand. After the two teams averaged 10.6 HDC combined, Tuesday night’s game saw the Leafs create 10 on their own. 

This dangerous game leads to Toronto potting a pair of its 10 HDC at 5-on-5, while the Canadiens went 0-for-9. The Habs know their weaknesses by now, and that key weakness is their high-danger chance conversion rate. It has been for years. Knowing they’re likely to be 0-for-10 anyway, they’re fine with getting only five as long as it means their more talented opponent only gets five as well.

If the Habs can get through the game at 0-0 in goals from those high-quality chances, they should be content hoping that the “other” goals go their way. 

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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.

xG numbers and advanced stats cited from Evolving Hockey, MoneyPuck and Natural Stat Trick.

Toronto Excels at Montreal’s Style of Hockey

Those “other” goals haven’t gone in for Montreal. In fact, they’ve actually gone in for Toronto.

The Maple Leafs have shown, much to the Habs’ dismay, they can win games playing Montreal’s version of hockey, which is the big takeaway from this series as a whole. They’ve been challenged to compete in a boring hockey game, and they’ve accepted, played, and won. 

Here’s a look at the important even-strength numbers game-by-game in terms of high-danger chances (Expected Goals For):

Canadiens Maple Leafs
Game 1 5 (1.04) 5 (1.24)
Game 2 2 (0.98) 7 (2.10)
Game 3 6 (1.69) 7 (2.39)
Game 4 9 (1.79) 10 (2.23)

It’s not hard to see the Leafs have the edge in seven of the eight comparisons with the eighth being a draw, but it’s the low numbers here that are key. 

From a moneyline pricing standpoint, the cost of backing the Leafs has gone up and up and up. Now well up over -200 on the moneyline, the Leafs still can’t be a bet at such an expensive price.

That said, what cards do the Habs have left to play? They’ve inserted young talent Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Caufield after sitting them in Game 1. It’s really just “drop the puck and hope for a bounce.” At +200, that’s never a bad bet in a game that could finally result in Montreal scoring a goal and maybe even a win. 

Betting Analysis & Pick

The best option for a bet in what is most likely the final game of this series might be the most obvious.

Maybe it’s dangerous to assume, but I imagine the Habs are still going to stick with their strategy of trying to win a 2-1 type of game. However, the Leafs have shown they’re more than capable of trading jabs instead of haymakers. There’s no reason for either team to all of a sudden open it up. We have long- and short-term results showing the Habs aren’t a threat to blow up offensively, and both goaltenders have been well above average.

With all this considered, under 5.5 is still a viable play.

My only hesitation would be the potential for late empty-net goals, as the Canadiens pulled Price for an extra attacker with more than five minutes left in a 3-0 game. If this game is 3-1 or 4-1, there’s a very real possibility things get loose in the final minutes with a one-sided final elimination. 

Pick: Under 5.5 (-120 or better)

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