NHL Best Bets: Maple Leafs vs. Lightning Game Picks
The Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning are set to collide for the first time since their seven-game playoff series last season.
Toronto Maple Leafs (+118) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (-142) Total: 6 (O+100, U-122)
Neither of these franchises has missed a beat since they met in the playoffs, with the Leafs occupying the second spot in the Atlantic division, while the Lightning aren’t far behind them in third. Toronto has been going through a great stretch of play, where they’ve won five straight games and posted an 8-0-2 record over their past ten. The Lightning have been playing up to their regular standards of late too, which has seen them post a 7-3 record.
These teams currently have opposite strengths, which is somewhat surprising given all the talent in this game. The Maple Leafs have been elite defensively and sit with the third-lowest goals allowed per game in the NHL, while the Lightning have scored at the sixth-highest rate in the league. Something will have to give in this matchup, and judging by the total and the price of the over, it’s that this will be a tighter lower, scoring affair.
Looking toward the projected goalie matchup tonight, the visiting Maple Leafs are expected to lean on Matt Murray, while the Lightning should do the same with Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Maple Leafs’ netminder has posted a 5-1-1 record, paired with a .927 save percentage, while Vasilevskiy is 9-7-1 with a .908 save percentage. Even though it’s been a small sample size, it’s hard not to be impressed with what Murray has done early in his first season with the Maple Leafs.
Not only because there’s a revenge factor at play here after the Lightning knocked the Leafs out of the playoffs last season, but Toronto is currently playing some great hockey, and there’s too much value in their side of the equation tonight. As a result, targeting their moneyline price at +118 is the direction bettors should gravitate towards.
Best Bet: Maple Leafs moneyline (+118)
Four of the past five Maple Leafs’ games have seen six or fewer goals scored, while two of the last five Lightning games have as well. It’s hard to see a world where this is a back-and-forth offensive affair, which wasn’t what we witnessed transpire during their playoff series last year. Both goalies enter this matchup playing well, and with the suffocating defensive structure the Maple Leafs are playing right now, it’s easy to envision a 3-2 or 2-1 game. With that in mind, targeting the under at -122 has some value attached to it.
Best Bet: Under 6 (-122)
It hasn’t been your prototypical elite season that we’re accustomed to seeing from Auston Matthews, but he’s clearly bought into the team concept here. He is sacrificing some of his goal-scoring, that’s led to better overall team defense. In saying that, there’s still more he can bring offensively, and there will come a time this season when he goes on a big scoring tear. This is the type of matchup where he should be able to use his big frame to dominate down low and get to the tough areas, which means there’s value in backing his prop to score tonight at +120.
Best Prop: Auston Matthews to Record Over 0.5 Goals (+120)