Atlantic Division Foes Clash in Opener
Two franchises with completely different playoff histories are set to square off.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions while the Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t won a postseason series since the 2003-04 playoffs. This will be the first playoff meeting between the teams.
The teams split four meetings during the regular season. Tampa Bay scored 13 goals in the two wins while Toronto outscored the Lightning 8-3 in the two contests won by the Maple Leafs.
The series begins in Toronto, where Tampa Bay has won four of the last six meetings. The Maple Leafs finished second in the Eastern Conference with 31 home wins during the regular season, while no playoff team in the East had more regulation losses on the road than the Lightning.
Let’s check the latest NHL lines, stats, injury reports and NHL odds for Lightning vs Maple Leafs. We’ve plenty of NHL picks and predictions.
Toronto (+1000) is just ahead of Tampa Bay (+1100) in the odds to win the Stanley Cup championship.
Vasilevskiy Looking to Find his Game
Watching former Conn Smythe Award-winning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy struggle down the stretch brought back memories of the stunning first-round sweep suffered by Tampa Bay in the 2018-19 playoffs. It was not the form he showed in leading the Lightning to back-to-back Stanley Cup odds championships
Only five goalies who appeared in at least 10 games during the month of April had worse save percentage numbers than Vasilevskiy, who was just 5-4-1 with a 3.06 goals-against average and a save percentage of .904. Vasilevskiy allowed at least four goals in five of his last 10 games. If there is a silver lining, it could be that one of his best performances in the month of April came when he stopped 36 of 37 shots against the Maple Leafs. He did win his last four starts, so perhaps he can enter the postseason in a positive frame of mind.
The NHL betting lines total has gone over in eight of Tampa Bay’s last nine games.
Matthews, Maple Leafs Try to Defy History
Having the top goal-scorer in the NHL has not translated into postseason success.
Since the 2005-06 season, the only players to win the Stanley Cup after leading the NHL in goals during the regular season were Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals in back-to-back seasons.
Auston Matthews led the league with 60 goals. He was also the top goal-scorer during the 2020-21 campaign and that didn’t translate into postseason success.
Auston Matthews won his second Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy after becoming just the third player to score 60 goals in a season this century, following Alex Ovechkin (2007-08) and Steven Stamkos (2011-12). #NHLAwards#NHLStats: https://t.co/7wTdgmQTsB pic.twitter.com/5rSZqxy7SU
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) May 1, 2022
There is probably not a player or a team (at least in the Eastern Conference) with more pressure heading into the postseason than Matthews and the Maple Leafs.
Matthews’ playoff numbers of 13 goals and 24 points in 32 points are well off the pace he has set during the regular season — 259 goals and 457 points in 407 games. If Toronto fails to advance out of its first playoff series, it would be the seventh consecutive time that happened and the scrutiny Matthews is under is unlike any other player right now.
Five of Toronto’s last seven games against Tampa Bay went over the Las Vegas odds total.
Lightning vs Maple Leafs Head-to-Head
Tampa Bay and Toronto played four times in the regular season with each team finishing 1-1 on home ice. The Lightning outscored the Maple Leafs 16-12 in the four games, with half of Tampa Bay’s goals coming in the final meeting of the regular season.
Toronto’s dynamic duo of Matthews and Mitchell Marner each missed one of the games against Tampa Bay. Matthews had three goals and four assists in three games against the Lightning while Marner had a goal and four assists. Goalie Jack Campbell was 2-1 with a 2.33 goals-against average against the Lightning.
Steven Stamkos had two goals and seven assists in four games against Toronto, Ondrej Palat (three goals, three assists) and Alex KIllorn (two goals, three assists) were other top scorers for Tampa Bay against Toronto. Vasilevskiy was 2-1-1 with a 2.97 GAA against the Maple Leafs.
Lightning vs Maple Leafs Game Information
- Game: Lightning (51-23-8 in the regular season); Maple Leafs (54-21-7)
- Location: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto
- Day/Time: Monday, May 2, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Ligtning vs Maple Leafs Live stream: NHL.TV
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Lightning vs Maple Leafs Betting Lines
Lightning vs Maple Leafs Prediction
Looking at the recent playoff results, it seems strange to see the best odds for the series having the Maple Leafs winning in seven games. The odds to win Stanley Cup for that are +425, just ahead of either Tampa Bay or Toronto advancing in six games.
However, Toronto has the fourth-best points percentage in the NHL since the start of March. Tampa Bay is just 7-8 on the road during that time so it is easier to understand why Toronto is emerging as a slight favorite to win the series, especially with the seventh game (if necessary) being played in Toronto.
It is worth watching the status of Lightning center Brayden Point, who is probable for the first game of the series with a lower-body injury. Toronto will be without winger Michael Bunting and defenseman Rasmus Sandin while forward Ondrej Kase has been dealing with a concussion and is questionable.