Toronto Maple Leafs vs Tampa Bay Lightning (5/12/22) Betting Odds, Prediction, Line Combination, Starting Goalies
Will the Toronto Maple Leafs finally not choke in a major post-season game?
After pulling off a tremendous, tough, and narrow victory in Game 5, the Leafs are now one win from a matchup with the Panthers or Capitals. They’ve looked like the better hockey team, and this could be the Leafs’ year.
But the Tampa Bay Lightning are the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions for a reason. Andrei Vasilevskiy and co. won’t just lay down and go quietly.
This is going to be a crazy game, and both teams are going to come out hot. It’s a must-watch for hockey fans around the nation.
Let’s dive into the betting odds and my prediction for this Game 6.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Tampa Bay Lightning Betting Odds
I’m honestly surprised to see Tampa’s ML juiced to -130. These two teams have been so close. Look at how tight Game 5 was by Expected Goals:
Image credit: Money Puck
Toronto has even been slightly better this series by Expected Goals, upon which they’ve built a 2.11 Expected Goal Differential over Tampa.
However, Tampa Bay is incredibly difficult to beat. The Lightning went 27-8-6 at home this season, and Vasilevskiy was a shutdown goalie at home during the Stanley Cup playoff run last year.
But Toronto stole a game in Tampa this series already, and they could do it again with the series on the line – and at plus-money odds.
Toronto Maple Leafs Analysis
Only three teams in the NHL allowed fewer goals than the Leafs this season, at 233. They finished sixth in the NHL Expected Goals Against, at 230.21.
And this was while Jack Campbell didn’t even play that well. Campbell was 68th among NHL goalies in Goals Saved Above Expected, at -2.21. This defense is just that good.
Meanwhile, the attack is led by sharpshooter Auston Matthews. He led the NHL in goals this season with 60, and he was one of just eight 100-point guys this season. He has to be one of the favorites for MVP this season.
Matthews only scores 1.27 Expected Goals per 60 minutes, but he actually put in 1.89 goals. He can shoot the puck from anywhere on the ice and has become the league’s best finisher.
Image credit: Money Puck
With an exceptional defense and a superb goal scorer, it’s no wonder the Leafs managed 115 points this season.
And they don’t even rely on Campbell to stand on his head! This is good, as he’s been rather mediocre this playoff run.
Tampa Bay Lightning Analysis
It’s just really hard to beat Tampa in Tampa.
West Florida provides a massive home-ice advantage. And Vasilevskiy is dominant when he sleeps in his own bed, as he posted a .940 save percentage at home during the 2021 postseason run.
But what is going on with Vasilevskiy? He’s posted a -1.1 Goals Saved Above Expected this season, which ranks 20th among playoff goalies. He posted -0.5 Goals Saved Above Expected in Game 5 alone, which was likely the dagger in a dangerously close 4-3 loss.
Nikita Kucherov was the best player for Tampa in Game 5, but Stamkos needs to be a little better. He was the only 40-goal scorer and 100-point guy for Tampa this season, and while he’s scored in both the last two games, he’s got just one other assist and is a +0 for the series.
Tampa’s defense has been mediocre, and they have allowed 19 Expected Goals, which ranks 13th of the 16 playoff teams this season.
But this has been an offensive-minded series, with every game going over. As a result, Toronto hasn’t performed much better in that statistic.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Tampa Bay Lightning Picks & Prediction
My pick: Tampa Bay Lightning ML (-120 at WynnBet)
At -120, it’s worth taking a shot with Tampa Bay at home in Game 6.
It’s a must-win, home-playoff game for the Lightning. They’ve been nearly unstoppable in this spot over the last three playoff runs, as they haven’t lost two playoff games in a row since 2020.
Vasilevskiy will have to step up. But that’s something he’s shown he can do in the past, and I’ll bank on him to do so again in this spot.
There’s no way this series doesn’t go seven. It’s been too good. As a result, I’ll be backing Tampa in Game 6.