Can the Maple Leafs Bounce Back? Betting Odds for Game 3
If, as Maple Leafs forward Ryan O’Reilly describes it, playoff hockey is a different beast compared to regular season games, that every game has a different “pulse” to it, and teams can re-adjust to navigate their way through it, then the sky isn’t falling in Toronto.
They go back to Florida, this time to play the Panthers in their building, Sunday night for Game 3 (6:30 p.m. start), down 2-0 in the NHL series, knowing that the third game is like the first two never existed.
They’ll need to make some adjustments - dare we say it, at goaltender? Igor Samsonov all but won that sixth game in Tampa to knock out the Lightning, but he hasn’t been as sharp over the first two games in Round 2, especially last night, where a beer league goalie could have stopped that tying goal.
If Matt Murray is available – and good luck getting injury updates during the playoffs – do you bring him in?
The Panthers are a team that plays with real pace, they are very confident now, playing very physical, and their $10 million per year goalie, Sergei Bobrovsky, is earning his contract. He had a .944 save percentage in the 4-2 win in Game 1, and was at .946 in last night’s 3-2 win, later saying the game last night was “fun”.
Today there is justifiable rage in Leafsland – Michael Bunting, who dished out an elbow in Game 1 of the Tampa Bay series and got a three-game suspension, is on the end of a vicious Sam Bennett crosscheck to the head last night, then Bennett mugs rookie Matthew Knies, with the news today that Knies is now out with a concussion, and all the league does is issue a $5k fine on Bennett.
So if you’re the Leafs, what do you do for Sunday night? If, as O’Reilly says, every game has its own pulse, then would you dress Wayne Simmonds to address Bennett and the physical edge the Panthers now seem to be established, especially since you have a hole in your lineup anyway with Knies out?
Game 3 Betting Odds
NorthStar odds have the Panthers winning the series at 1.32 today, the Leafs at 3.52: Moneyline for Sunday is Leafs 1.76, Panthers 2.08, with the puck line at Leafs -1.5 (2.85) and Panthers +1.5 (1.43).
Over at Proline, it’s much the same – Moneyline is Leafs 1.76, Panthers 2.10; spread is Leafs -1 (2.15) and Panthers +1 (1.70).
The Leafs may seem on the ropes but go with what the grizzled playoff vet O’Reilly is telling you.
We don’t see the Leafs going down 3-0 in the series so that Moneyline bet on the Leafs is safe in our view. Yes, they were sloppy with the turnovers last night. We don’t see that being repeated in Game 3. New game, different pulse.
Power Play Issues
Their power play hasn’t been good of late, either, but they are making adjustments there. They were 1 for 3 last night and 0 for 4 on Tuesday. But they also were second in the NHL in power play efficiency this year, and the Panthers were tenth from the bottom in penalty-killing efficiency. Something has to turn here as well.
The mystery card is will the Leafs get what they need out of their goaltender Sunday night?
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