NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Panthers vs Maple Leafs Game 2

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Panthers vs Maple Leafs Game 2 article feature image

Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: William Nylander of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

  • The Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs meet in Game 2 of their Stanley Cup Playoff series on Thursday night.
  • The Leafs enter as big favorites, and Nick Martin has two bets for this matchup.
  • Check out Martin's full betting preview for Game 2 between the Panthers and Leafs.

Panthers vs. Maple Leafs Game 2 Odds

Panthers Odds+172
Maple Leafs Odds-210
Over/Under6.5 (-144 / +118)
Time7 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

Game 2 of what should be a very fast-paced and high-event series between the Panthers and Maple Leafs takes place Thursday night at Scotiabank Arena.

Florida capitalized on a brilliant performance from Sergei Bobrovsky in the series opener and will have the opportunity to head home with a commanding lead if it can claim another upset victory Thursday.

Florida Panthers

Everything about Florida's Game 1 performance came as expected. The same strengths from the Boston series remained in place, while some of the same flaws we've seen all year shined through at times.

The Panthers' aggressive forecheck gave the Leafs fits, and top defenders such as Brandon Montour and Gustav Forsling did a good job jumping up in the play and helping to create offense. Matthew Tkachuk remained a complete force and collected three more points to build on his early case for the Conn Smythe.

Offensively, the Panthers did an excellent job of capitalizing on the Leafs' breakdowns. They generated 2.78 expected goals, but I do believe that, despite that data, it would be fair to say a four-goal output was earned.

What I don't expect to continue if this game looks similar to Game 1 is Florida allowing just two goals. Toronto generated 5.80 expected goals in Game 1 but failed to finish off a ton of quality looks.

Bobrovsky stopped 34 of the 36 shots he faced and played to a 3.80 goals saved above expected rating in the matchup.

The Panthers' penalty kill could be viewed as a positive, as it went 4-for-4 in the game. However, if we actually evaluate the process, it's far less impressive. Toronto gained the zone and set up at will, leading to a ton of quality looks.

Florida has killed off just 64.1% of shorthanded situations in the playoffs and was the 23rd-ranked team on the penalty kill in the regular season.

Marc Staal continued to struggle badly on the Panthers' back end in Game 1 in just over 20 minutes of ice time. His lack of mobility continues to be a significant concern the Leafs should expose this series.

Bobrovsky will start in goal for Florida on Thursday. He has played to a +3.6 GSAx this postseason with a .901 save percentage in six appearances.

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Toronto Maple Leafs

By no means should Toronto feel concerned with its chance generation from Game 1, as it was abundantly clear that was not the problem.

Toronto's top stars had a field day in front of Bobrovsky but ultimately proved to be snake bitten.

Auston Matthews had 0.88 individual xGoals including a clear-cut breakaway. John Tavares had 1.34 individual xGoals with a lot of solid looks deep in the slot.

William Nylander had a ridiculous 1.35 individual expected goals, and his strong play in transition was clearly tough for some Panthers skaters to handle.

Here's a clip that's certainly an interesting talking point from Game 1 for several reasons — especially because there's zero chance this play was not presented to Nylander in the film session leading up to this game.

William Nylander: A riddle wrapped in an enigma pic.twitter.com/vKV0s8tErO

— Kevin Michie (@KevinMichie) May 3, 2023

What's clear is that Marc Staal is going to struggle badly in transition this series, like he did against Boston and has all year long. These plays will be there for Toronto, and Staal is not the only gettable Panthers defender on this front.

The reason Nylander is not aware that the lane to the net is wide open is that he expected Staal to remain on his hip and is therefore looking to find someone attacking from the next layer. Not realizing that Staal lost an edge in game speed is more forgivable than many think.

Even still, Nylander's lack of a killer instinct is again drawing the ire of fans who say he needs more of an "edge." He had plenty of chances in Game 1 and should continue exposing some Panthers.

Combine that with all of the typical noise that says he lacks a playoff edge, and I think he becomes a dangerous target for a response.

Defensively, the Leafs' play was far more concerning. They gave up numerous dangerous chances due to ill-timed turnovers and missed assignments and didn't deserve to give up fewer than four goals.

Mark Giordano's play seems to be regressing on the back end. If he remains in for this contest, he will be a target for Panthers stars both on the forecheck and off of the rush.

There's a chance the Leafs go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen tonight — or they could just sit Giordano entirely in favor of Erik Gustafsson.

Panthers vs. Maple Leafs Pick

There are several areas where Toronto will continue to expose the Panthers defensively all series. The Leafs' elite offensive stars should continue to thrive in matchups against bottom-tier defenders. Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe should be able to find some solid matchups on home ice in Game 2 with the last change.

The process of Toronto's power play looked true to form in Game 1 but put up a very surprising 0-for-4 mark. Bobrovsky stopping almost four goals above expected was the key to that, as plenty of his +3.8 GSAx came with Florida shorthanded.

Game 1 really did look the way most analysts expected, even if the lower-scoring 4-2 final didn't suggest as much. If this game looks similar to Game 1, I think there's a great chance the Leafs win with a final score close to 5-3.

Everything seems to set up very well for a high-scoring Leafs win in this pivotal Game 2. Backing the Leafs to win in a game going over 6.5 at +161 is an angle I'm high on.

I'm also watching Nylander closely tonight. He generated a ton of chances in Game 1 but could not turn those into an actual goal. He should create plenty of looks all series long, and I like him to score tonight at +175.

Pick: Over 6.5 & Maple Leafs ML Parlay (+161 · bet365) · William Nylander Any Time Goal (+175 · FanDuel)

Pick: William Nylander Any Time Goal Scorer (+170)

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