Well, the Montreal-Toronto playoff series just got really, REALLY interesting.
The Canadiens avoided elimination by winning Game 5 of the best-of-seven series in trilling fashion. They jumped out to a 3-0 lead, then watched in horror as the Maple Leafs furiously battled back and evened the score 3-3 after three periods. It then took only a short time for Montreal to take full advantage of a Toronto miscue that extended the series by at least one more game. Alex Galchenyuk's baffling turnover to Cole Caufield inside the first minute of overtime created a 2-on-0 break that concluded with Nick Suzuki putting the puck into the back of the net.
Toronto 3 games, Montreal 2 games – now it's back to the Bell Centre for Game 6, where there will be fans in attendance (2,500 maximum) for the first time in 15 months.
No NHL team is under more pressure right now than the Maple Leafs. The spotlight is burning hot. They're become the center of every hockey fan's attention. Every decision, mistake, and setback is heavily scrutinized by this hockey-mad market. The pressure is even greater on the team at this moment given the franchise's half-century of postseason futility.
Everyone in Canada already knows the story: The woeful Maple Leafs haven't won the Stanley Cup since 1967, which was the last year of the NHL's "Original Six" era. To make matters worse, they haven't even appeared in a Cup finals. And even though nearly half the teams make the post-season, Toronto has not won a playoff series of any kind since 2004. And with Thursday's setback, the Leafs are now 0-5 over the past four seasons when they've been in a position to advance in the playoffs.
So, the pressure's on. It's especially on tonight. The Maple Leafs don't want this going to a "must win" Game 7.
Oddsmakers and the public think the Leafs will get it done tonight. Toronto is a -185 favourite, which comes back at Montreal +155. As is the case in all playoff games in this series, the total remains 5.5 goals.
So far, we've recommended betting the total on 4 of the 5 games of the series. The free "Bet of the Day" here at POINTSPREADS.CA has gone 3-1. Here's the previous report:
Here's the final leg of the zig-zag theory. We expected the series to be low scoring overall, so UNDERs were recommended in the early games. Then, once Toronto was in a position to close out the series, we anticipated some panic effect by the Canadiens which would produce a higher-scoring game and an OVER, which is precisely what happened.
Now, look for defences to improve, better goaltending play after an off night by both Jack Campbell (TOR) and Carey Price (MTL), and some added tension which usually creates missed opportunities for both teams. Unlike Game 5 which was a free-for-all effort by Montreal, they'll likely revert to previous form and perhaps even be sluggish on offense again. Note that the Canadiens scored only 2 goals in Games 2, 3, and 4 combined.
Toronto-Montreal games this season have gone 4-8-1 to the UNDER, including 3 of the 5 games in this series. After a rare 7-goal output, look for a game tonight that falls under the O/U of 5.5. goals. We have to lay a little extra juice at -120, but the UNDER appears to be the right pick.
Final Prediction: Toronto 3, Montreal 2
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