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NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Panthers vs. Maple Leafs Game 1 (Tuesday, May 2)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Panthers vs. Maple Leafs Game 1 (Tuesday, May 2) article feature image

Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Auston Matthews.

  • The Toronto Maple Leafs host the Florida Panthers for Game 1 on of their NHL playoff second-round series on Tuesday night.
  • The Leafs broke their first-round curse while the Panthers are coming off a massive upset over the Bruins.
  • Tony Sartori previews Panthers vs. Maple Leafs Game 1, and provides two betting picks.

Panthers vs. Maple Leafs Odds

Panthers Odds+135
Maple Leafs Odds-155
Over/Under6.5 (-115/-105)
Time7 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The Toronto Maple Leafs host the Florida Panthers in Game 1 of their NHL Eastern Conference second-round series on Tuesday evening.

Florida enters on the heels of a miraculous first-round victory over the Boston Bruins, a series in which it trailed 3-1. Meanwhile, Toronto finally got over the hump and won a playoff series for the first time in 19 years with a 4-2 series victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Will Florida ride its three-game win streak and pull off another road upset, or can the Maple Leafs defend home ice in Game 1?

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

Florida Panthers

Once again, the Panthers were one of the best over teams in the league this season, going 47-32 in the regular season. This trend should not be surprising in the slightest given the Panthers’ hyper-aggressive offensive play style and desire to go south-to-north as quickly as possible.

Mix an elite offense with a below-average blue line, and this club has developed into an over bettor’s dream over the past couple of seasons. This season, Florida finished first in the league in expected goals for per 60 minutes (xGF/60) at 5-on-5, but just 21st in expected goals against per 60 minutes (xGA/60).

These results have transitioned similarly into the postseason. Among the 16 playoff teams in the first round (at 5-on-5), the Panthers ranked fourth in xGF/60 and in the bottom half in xGA/60.

With a powerhouse offense and below-average blue line, it’s not surprising there were seven or more goals scored in five of the seven first-round games against Boston. The offense certainly needs no explanation — it is loaded with three 30+ goal scorers and receives scoring help from all four forward lines.

However, the best players on defense — Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour — are both offensively minded. Outside of Radko Gudas, this team doesn’t have an efficient shut-down defenseman.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Like the Panthers, the Maple Leafs saw plenty of high-scoring contests in the opening round, with seven or more goals scored in four of the six games against the Bolts. This trend of high-scoring affairs dates back to the regular season, with seven or more total goals scored in 15 of their last 25 games.

Toronto’s success hinges on its electrifying offense, something it will surely continue to lean on in the second round. Led by Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander, the Leafs finished the regular season ranked seventh in xGF/60 at 5-on-5.

The explosive offense transitioned smoothly into the postseason, which is a product of big-time performances by those three stars, along with the help of Ryan O’Reilly and Morgan Rielly, who both stepped up in massive ways against Tampa. Defensively, however, things have not gone as smoothly.

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

Since the Christmas break, the Leafs rank in the bottom half of the league in xGA/60 at 5-on-5.

Panthers vs. Maple Leafs Pick

Toronto’s goaltender, Ilya Samsonov, is the biggest concern working against the over in this series. Putting together a tremendous regular season, Samsonov posted a 27-10-5 record with a .919 save percentage (SV%) and 2.33 goals against average (GAA).

However, the postseason has not gone as smoothly for the Russian netminder. Through six starts, he has put together a .900 SV% and 3.14 GAA.

Across the ice, Sergei Bobrovsky is slated to start between the pipes for Florida. His postseason has been even more turbulent, recording a .891 SV% and 3.94 GAA through five appearances.

This series features two elite offenses, two below-average blue lines and a shaky goaltender in Bobrovsky. If that is not a recipe for overs to cash consistently, then I don’t know what is.

Not only am I taking the over in Game 1, but I am also taking over 38.5 total goals scored in the series at -125 via DraftKings.

Pick: Over 6.5 (-115 | Play to -130)

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