NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Maple Leafs vs. Lightning (April 21)
Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Tampa Bay Lightning standout Nikita Kucherov, left, battles for the puck.
- NHL heavyweights Toronto and Tampa Bay square off in Thursday's featured matchup in Florida.
- The Maple Leafs are slight underdogs and could be without star Auston Matthews again in this contest.
- Tony Sartori breaks down the contest below and explains why he's backing Tampa Bay.
Maple Leafs vs. Lightning Odds
|Maple Leafs Odds||-105|
|Over/Under||7 (+110 / -130)|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
We have a heavyweight battle in this Atlantic Division tilt, as the second-place Toronto Maple Leafs travel to Florida to take on the third-place Tampa Bay Lightning in Thursday’s showdown.
This is the fourth meeting between these teams, with the Maple Leafs winning two of the first three matchups.
That said, will the Maple Leafs defeat the Lightning for the third time or can the hosts even up the season series on home ice? Let’s take a look at this huge matchup below and see where we can find betting value.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs enter this contest on a four-game winning streak, which presents a great opportunity to sell high on them. Those four wins were against teams far inferior to the Lightning, as they beat the Capitals, Senators, Islanders and Flyers.
When priced as an underdog, Toronto is just 3-4 overall. Jack Campbell, the projected starting goaltender for the Maple Leafs, isn’t the same goaltender when playing on the road this season.
Campbell’s save percentage dips to 0.903 when playing away from home and has a tough task against a dangerous Lightning offense. This season, he ranks just 29th among starting goaltenders in 5-on-5 goals saved above expected per 60 minutes.
A big question mark is the status of Auston Matthews, who has been traveling with the team but has missed two consecutive games with an undisclosed injury. I suspect Matthews will play, but if he misses his third game in a row then it will obviously be a big advantage for the Lightning.
Tampa Bay Lightning
While I mentioned this is a good spot to sell high on the Maple Leafs, it’s also a great position to buy low on the Lightning. Tampa Bay is just 3-6 over its last nine games, which is its second-worst stretch this season.
However, I think this is a good bounce-back spot for the Lightning in a huge divisional matchup. Amalie Arena should be as loud as It has been all season with the Maple Leafs in town, especially considering that the Lightning need to finish the season strong if they’re to steal home ice in their expected opening-round playoff matchup against Toronto.
Tampa Bay sits eight points behind Toronto for the Atlantic Division’s second seed in the playoffs ,while it’s just a point above Boston, which is currently in the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot. While this is obviously a big game, Tampa Bay needs these two points more than Toronto as it won’t catch up to Florida for the first seed.
Andrei Vasilevskiy is the projected starting goaltender and has been excellent on home ice , boasting a 0.918 save percentage at Amalie Arena.
Maple Leafs vs. Lightning Pick
The public is going to be all over Toronto as an underdog, as these teams have been trending in different directions this month. I believe oddsmakers have accurately priced Tampa Bay as a short home favorite, because despite the recent trends, I think it’s still a better team than Toronto.
In what should be a great first-round series in the playoffs, this game will be an exciting preview.
Pick: Tampa Bay ML (-115 | Play up to -130)