NHL Playoffs Game 6 Odds, Preview, Prediction: Maple Leafs vs. Lightning (May 12)
Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Toronto Maple Leafs standout Mitch Marner.
Maple Leafs vs. Lightning Odds
|Maple Leafs Odds||+110|
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
Toronto heads to Tampa Bay on Thursday, with the opportunity to finally put its NHL first-round playoff demons to rest. And there’s surely no better way to do so than on the road against the back-to-back Stanley Cup champion.
Managing the fourth and final win of a series is usually the most difficult, which is a notion that should hold true against goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy and the Lightning, who have won 16 consecutive playoff games after a loss.
So, will Tampa Bay keep its Stanley Cup run alive? Let’s take a look.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Game 5 started out looking like another in a long line of disappointing playoff performances from this Maple Leafs, but they came surging out the gates after the first intermission and found a way to claim the big result.
Altogether, Game 5 was quite a closely contested affair, with Toronto leading on expected goals (3.50-3.35), a mark that appeared in line with the eye test when considering how much Tampa Bay controlled play in the first 20 minutes.
Toronto leads the series in expected goals with a 51.32% mark, with the data suggesting it should lead on goals by a 16.56-15.71 margin. At even strength, the Maple Leafs own a 53.63 xG percentage.
That razor-thin margin seems every bit in-line with how this series has gone altogether, and obviously those numbers are far from the be-all end-all.
A big question will be whether the Maple Leafs can carry that momentum into Game 6 and if at a minimum they can play at their highest level, thus forcing force the Lightning to be sharp for 60 minutes and garner a win.
Toronto completely blew an opportunity to take a 3-1 stranglehold in Game 4 on the road with a poor first period, but have earned a chance to make up for that letdown game.
John Tavares and William Nylander both broke out with big performances last time out. Should that pair continue to play that way, it will go a long way for a Toronto group that has shown a lot of cause for optimism in other areas.
Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner have been solid, helping Toronto’s power play maintain its lethal form, while also generating effectively at 5-on-5 play. Behind that we have seen a number of impactful performances from up-and-down Maple Leafs, including some impressive two-way play from guys like David Kampf, Ilya Mikheyev and Pierre Engvall.
The kind of offensive depth could be crucial, where the Bunting-Matthews-Marner line will be hard-matched more often against Anthony Cirelli’s line and the Hedman-Cernak defensive pairing.
Most importantly, Jack Campbell has been quite solid this series. Campbell has played to a -0.6 GSAx, with an .895 save % through five games. Those are far from elite marks, but they put him right with Vasilevskiy in the series.
The Leafs will head in to this contest with no players listed on the IR and will likely go with the same roster.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay has already proven so much over the last two seasons, and will have the opportunity to do something special should it can keep the first three-peat bid alive in almost four decades.
Even having had its entire third-line priced out of town after last season’s playoffs, general manager Julien Brisebois has found a way to retool and the bottom six is actually arguably playing as dominantly as last season.
The Lightning’s third line of Brandon Hagel, Nick Paul and Ross Colton has been effective in this series, and its 51.7% xG rate is actually the highest mark of Tampa’s forward units this series.
Surprisingly enough, the main area Toronto actually holds a surprising edge at even strength has been in minutes played against the unit of Ondrej Palat, Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.
If changes are made, the logical move could be considering moving Brayden Point back in the middle with Kucherov and Palat. That unit terrorized everyone the last two postseasons. However, it’s possible Jon Cooper looks at losing a coin-flip Game 5 and decides to keep things status quo and hoping the group makes fewer mistakes as a group is also quite reasonable.
Andrei Vasilevskiy has played to a -1.1 goals saved above expected rating in the series with an .880 save percentage. When compared to his final GSAx mark of +26.6 in last season’s playoffs, I would say it’s a pretty firm comment that Toronto is making life tough.
Tampa Bay should take the ice at full strength for this game as well.
Maple Leafs vs. Lightning Pick
We have seen countless NHL roster’s have to suffer through heartbreaking losses before finally managing the big wins in the playoffs, including this Lightning group, who battled through numerous tough defeats before finally breaking through with the cup win.
Game 5 felt like a massive growing point for this Leafs group to me, and I can’t help but think how much it reminded me of when my beloved Caps came from behind vs the Penguins in 2018 in Game 5 after years of torment before closing it out on the road in Game 6.
This Toronto roster seems ready to finally shake off those heartbreaking defeats, and if it’s going to end its first-round misery, I think this has to be the time. I think the Maple Leafs’ chances of winning are actually better than they would be in a home Game 7 after losing in this spot.
Toronto is the more valuable side since we’re getting it at an underdog price and I would play the visiting side down to -105 odds.
Regardless as to who wins, this could easily be one of the better games we see the entire postseason.
Pick: Toronto ML(+110)