Can the Toronto Maple Leafs Keep Momentum in Game 5 vs. Panthers?
I’ve had an itchy trigger finger, quick to crap on the Toronto Maple Leafs, of late – and you can’t blame the reaction of people in this market after watching decades of ineptitude in the so-called grand centre of the hockey universe – but I also have to give credit where credit is due.
That 2-1 win in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup second round series against the Florida Panthers was the most “jam” these eyes have seen by a Leafs' team in a playoff game since the Pat Quinn-coached teams at the turn of the new century.
Total Team Defence in Win
Bettors went into Game 4 as a bruised and callused as I was, along with fans in the city – if the Twitter temperature was any indication.
BetMGM Sportsbook told us that only 38 per cent of bets were on the Leafs to win, going in. Traitors!
But a few factors emerged that bodes well for the team going into Game 5 Friday night at Scotiabank Arena (7 p.m. start).
One, it was a total team commitment to stifling team defence. They built a granite wall around rookie goalie Joseph Woll, tossed into the frying pan after Ilya Samsonov went down with an “upper-body injury” after colliding with Leafs' defenceman Luke Schenn in Game 3.
Even William Nylander was back-checking last night, to go along with a huge goal to open the scoring for the Leafs.
The Leafs also out-shot-blocked the Panthers by a huge margin – 21-9. And they outhit the Panthers 26-21. Even little Mitch Marner hit – four in total. That’s jam.
Canadian sportsbooks were out right after the final buzzer pegging the Leafs as favourites for Friday night.
What's the Outlook for the Maple Leafs in Game 5?
Can they carry that commitment over to Game 5? Here’s how some of the lines looked today – in terms of moneyline for Friday, BetMGM has the Leafs at 1.55. NorthStar has them at 1.56. PointsBet Canada has them at 1.56. Proline has them at 1.57.
And according to Proline, the Leafs were favoured on the Moneyline - 66 per cent of bets. They were also the preferred bet on the Spread, which was at -1.5 (71 per cent, which did not come through). Over/Under was tight - 46 per cent bet the Under correctly.
These are no longer the doe-eyed youngsters feeling their way around in a real men’s league. The Leafs started the season with the seventh-oldest roster in the NHL. That number went up with the trade deadline acquisition of veterans Luke Schenn and Ryan O’Reilly.
It's step up or tee it up again Friday. Best bet is again on Auston Matthews breaking out – NorthStar has him at 1.78 to score anytime, even in overtime. The former Hart Trophy winner is far too good to be held off the score sheet for this long a period.
On the betting stats front, FanDuel says the majority of the Ontario handle and bets were in favour of the Leafs winning. So I guess FanDuel customers are more Be-Leafers. The majority of the U.S. handle and bets were on the Panthers.
The most-bet players in Ontario for Anytime Goal Scorer pre-game were Matthews, Brandon Montour, John Tavares, Nylander and Sam Reinhart. And “Joseph Woll to Record a Shutout” was the most-bet goalie prop in Ontario in Game 4.
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