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Lightning vs Maple Leafs Game 1 | NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction

Lightning vs Maple Leafs Game 1 | NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction article feature image

Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: William Nylander.

  • The Tampa Bay Lighting and Toronto Maple Leafs kick off their Stanley Cup Playoff series on Tuesday night.
  • These teams typically play high-scoring games, and that should be the case again in Game 1.
  • Continue reading for Tony Sartori’s Lighting vs. Maple Leafs preview and pick on the total.

Lightning vs. Maple Leafs Game 1 Odds

Lightning Odds+130
Maple Leafs Odds-156
Over/Under5.5 (-132 / +108)
Time7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The Toronto Maple Leafs host the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of this NHL Eastern Conference series on Tuesday night.

High-scoring affairs are typically in store when these clubs square off, with seven or more total goals scored in five of the past six meetings. Will we see another high-scoring contest, or can the goaltending step up?

Here’s a look at the odds, as well as my Lightning vs. Maple Leafs Game 1 betting pick.

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Tampa Bay Lightning

Ending the regular season amidst a flurry of high-scoring contests, there were six or more total goals scored in nine of the Lightning’s final 14 games. The main reason for this trend is a star-studded offense that features four 30-goal scorers.

At 5-on-5 this season, the Bolts finished eighth in the league in expected goals for per 60 minutes (xGF/60). However, this team’s biggest weakness is a thin blue line, which I believe will ultimately be its downfall in this series.

Ian Cole does a tremendous job on the defensive end while Mikhail Sergachev is basically the “new” Victor Hedman. Outside of those two guys, the rest of Tampa’s defensemen have played at replacement level — even Hedman, who appears to have lost a step this season.

This year, the Lightning ranked just 19th in expected goals against per 60 minutes (xGA/60) at 5-on-5.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Like Tampa, the Maple Leafs enter the postseason amidst a bevy of high-scoring games over the final month of the season, with six or more total goals scored in 12 of their past 19 games. Boasting a similar makeup to the Bolts, Toronto’s success hinges on its dynamite offense.

Led by Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews and William Nylander, the Leafs finished the season ranked seventh in xGF/60 at 5-on-5. However, also like Tampa, this blue line does not quite hold up compared to the powerhouse offense.

While the defense is deep, it features six guys who are all solid, but not spectacular. Toronto attempted to bolster this blue line with the acquisitions of Luke Schenn and Jake McCabe at the trade deadline.

Unfortunately, the results haven’t been there. Since the Christmas break, the Leafs rank in the bottom half of the league in xGA/60 at 5-on-5.

Lightning vs. Maple Leafs Pick

By far the biggest concern in taking the over in this contest is the goaltending. Slated to take the crease for the Bolts is Andrei Vasilevskiy, who is not only the greatest goaltender of this generation, but is establishing himself as one of the best big-game netminders in history.

Across the ice, Ilya Samsonov is expected to get the nod for the Leafs. One of the biggest surprises for Toronto this season, Samsonov put together a tremendous campaign in his first season with his new club, producing a .919 SV% and 2.33 GAA while posting a 27-10-5 record.

Both of these netminders’ underlying metrics are just as strong as their surface-level numbers, with each guy ranking in the top-eight among starting goaltenders in goals saved above expected per 60 minutes (GSAx/60) at 5-on-5.

The goaltending is the reason this total can be found as low as 5.5, but that is too much of an over-adjustment in a game that features two explosive offenses and two mediocre blue lines.

Pick: Over 5.5 (-136 | Play to -140)

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