Lightning vs. Leafs: A Betting Preview
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Despite having made it to the Stanley Cup Final in three straight seasons the Tampa Bay Lightning will most likely play the role of underdog for most of the 2023 NHL playoffs. Not only that, their toughest two rounds are likely to be the first two they play.
They kick things off on Tuesday in Toronto against the number two seeded Maple Leafs where they will be +130 underdogs to win the series. Should they advance then theu are likely to run into the Boston Bruins, fresh off the greatest regular season in the history of the league. Cool.
Lets face it, based on their wild inconsistency during the regular season, it's no surprise that the oddsmakers aren't marking them as a favorite in this series. Talent-wise Toronto is probably the better team. Experience-wise you have to go with the Lightning, though. How much the "been-there-done-that" factor is baked into the line is debatable. Always remember that the casinos and gambling institutions don't really care who wins the game, they care about getting people to put their money on both sides of the bet.
If you believe the Lightning are going to win the series, this is probably the best time to lay the money down. A Game One loss isn't likely to move the series line much, while a win would likely lower that +130 number a bit, although based on the odds that DraftKings has for the length of the series, maybe not. While I'm not 100% convinced the Lightning are going to win, I like the value at +130 as opposed to the Leafs at -150.
Yup, you can bet on how many games it's going to take for the Lightning or the Leafs to win the first round. Heck, you don't even have to pick which side will win. As you might think, the longest odds (+600) are for either team to pull off a sweep. Things drop off drastically for a five-game series (+265). Should this run out to six or seven games you're looking at a +200 payout. I feel like we're going 6 games this time around.
Along with the normal bets such as the money line winner or over and under on total goals in a game, companies like DraftKings are starting to lay out more and more prop bets. That's where the fun lies for me so let's take a couple that I find interesting.
The concept is simple, take a player on one team and a player on the other and bet which one will have more goals or points.
For this series the match-up I like is Steven Stamkos (+110) to have more points than John Tavares (-140).
Personally I think it comes down to usage. The Lightning are going to rely on Steven Stamkos way more than the Leafs will rely on Tavares. Both have had remarkably similar seasons with Stamkos posting 84 points and Tavares 80. Both will be on the second line at 5v5 and both will be on the top power play unit for their teams.
For me Stamkos gets the edge as the triggerman on the power play. While Tavares is more of a set-up man, Stamkos is the one firing shots at the net. That gives him the advantage of scoring with that lethal one-timer, as well as generating rebounds for his teammates which would result in an assist should they score. Stamkos will also get the edge in ice time as he is one of the Big Three with Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point that will be on the ice when it counts. Tavares may not play that same role for Leafs, especially if Ryan O'Reilly is healthy.
Most Goals Scores in the Series
This is always an interesting one since a playoff series, even if it goes all seven games, is still a relatively short period of time. So, one good two-goal game would put someone in the lead to win this one.
As you might guess, Auston Matthews (+380) is the favorite. While he had just an okay season by his standards, he was the best non-goaltender in last year's playoff match-up when he posted 4 goals and 5 assists in 7 games. He could pull off the same feat this year as well.
Where is the fun in betting the favorite though? Brayden Point (+475) is the favorite for the Lightning, but I'm not going for the 51-goal man either.
I'm going instead for our favorite social media influencer, Alex Killorn (+2500). If you're going to be a bear, be a grizzley. While, he was shut out of the goal column the last time these two teams met in the playoffs, he was one of the hottest Lightning scorers down the stretch with 5 goals in his last 10 games. With the Leafs looking to shut down the top line, he may see some quality looks at the net.
There ya go. The joy of betting on the playoffs is that it gives you something else to stress out about along with if the Lightning win or not. Fun! We'll circle back to see how these picks went when the series is over.