NHL Playoffs (Round 1): Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

NHL May 02, 2022

Toronto looks to advance in playoffs for first time since 2004 while Tampa Bay begins its quest for third straight championship

Is there a more intriguing first-round matchup than the Lightning vs. Maple Leafs? We don't think so.

This playoff series should be epic, as the defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning launches their quest for a three-peat. Meanwhile, the long-suffering Maple Leafs and their loyal fans draw arguably the toughest possible opponent, which will be a major challenge.

It’s hard to say which team faces more pressure. Tampa Bay has the chance to establish itself as the greatest team of this generation, while Toronto hasn’t won a playoff series since 2004. This year could be the breakthrough, however. The Maple Leafs are absolutely loaded with talent, starting with Auston Matthews who's on fire heading into the playoffs, and Mitch Marner, playing the best hockey of his career.

Standing in their way is quite possibly the best team since Wayne Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers.

Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was the anchor for the Lightning in each of the previous championship seasons, but in 2022 he's looked vulnerable, as have the Lightning. But now this is the playoffs, and it's basically a new season. The Maple Leafs could outplay the Lightning, but outscoring them is going to be tough if Vasilevskiy gets back on his game.

The puck drops in Game 1 at 7:30 pm EDT.

Here's the latest odds at SPREADS.CA:

Prediction (powered by Pointspreads.ca):

We're betting on the Lightning to win the series (at even money) and advance towards a three-peat, but we also won't be shocked if the Maple Leafs win this game.

For Game 1, we think the value is on the champs (2.05 to win on the moneyline and 1.41 on the +1.5 puckline).

We also see some value in betting UNDER 6.5 goals. Playoff hockey tends to be lower scoring, so we love catching a win on 6 goals being scored.