The Tampa Bay Lightning begin their journey for a third straight Stanley Cup on Monday as they take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in a matchup of Atlantic Division rivals.
Tampa, the #3 seed out of the Atlantic Division, comes into the playoffs with seven wins in ten games. One of those victories was an 8-1 stomping of the very same team they will meet in the opening round.
While things did not go their way in the head-to-head matchup at Amalie Arena on April 21, Toronto, the #2 seed out of the Atlantic, also enters the playoffs in positive form. Like the Lightning, they won seven of ten to close out the regular season.
Matthews, Stamkos Lead Two Top Cup Contenders
The Leafs possess the most dangerous offensive weapon from the regular season in Auston Matthews, the NHL’s leading goal-scorer.
Matthews went on a rampage this season, scoring 60 goals. By reaching that mark, he became the first U.S.-born player with a 60-goal season, and he also became the first player to light the lamp 60 times since 2011-12.
He also led the team in points with 106, as he tallied a career-best 46 assists and topped the 100-point mark for the first time in his career. Many would suggest that he is not done scoring yet.
The Lightning counter with an impressive offense of their own. Team captain Steven Stamkos, who was previously the most recent player to reach the 60-goal mark, is still going strong in his 14th NHL season. He found the back of the net 42 times, and like Matthews, he finished with 106 points to top the century mark for the first time in his NHL career.
Stamkos is the more experienced player in the playoffs, but this matchup of two dynamic, dangerous goal scorers should be fun to watch for the next two weeks.
Both teams are among the top favorites to win the Stanley Cup this season, which means that one of the Cup favorites will be gone after the first round.
The latest odds at FanDuel place the Maple Leafs at +1000 to end their Cup drought, which puts them joint-fourth with the Carolina Hurricanes. The Lightning are not far behind, standing sixth in line with odds of +1100.
Entering the postseason, Toronto is the favorite to take the series. However, the betting lines are fairly similar, which indicates that we should see a highly competitive series. Will it go the distance?
Toronto Maple Leafs (Atlantic Division #2) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (Atlantic Division #3) Series Information and Betting Odds
Maple Leafs vs. Lightning Series Schedule, Game Times, and TV Info
- Maple Leafs vs. Lightning (Game 1 – t Scotiabank Arena, Toronto): Monday, May 2, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2
- Maple Leafs vs. Lightning (Game 2 – at Scotiabank Arena, Toronto): Wednesday, May 4, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2
- Lightning vs. Maple Leafs (Game 3 – at Amalie Arena, Tampa): Friday, May 6, 7:30 p.m. ET, TBS
- Lightning vs. Maple Leafs (Game 4- at Amalie Arena, Tampa): Sunday, May 8, 7:00 p.m. ET, TBS – if necessary
- Maple Leafs vs. Lightning (Game 5 – at Scotiabank Arena, Toronto): Tuesday, May 10, time and TV TBD – if necessary
- Lightning vs. Maple Leafs (Game 6 – at Amalie Arena, Tampa): Thursday, May 12, time and TV TBD – if necessary
Maple Leafs vs. Lightning Series Betting Odds
Odds are via FanDuel.
Odds to win the Series
- Toronto Maple Leafs -122
- Tampa Bay Lightning +100
Series Correct Score Odds
- Toronto 4-0 (+1200)
- Toronto 4-1 (+570)
- Toronto 4-2 (+520)
- Toronto 4-3 (+440)
- Tampa Bay 4-0 (+1200)
- Tampa Bay 4-1 (+680)
- Tampa Bay 4-2 (+440)
- Tampa Bay 4-3 (+520)
Series Total Games Odds
- Four Games: +580
- Five Games: +270
- Six Games: +194
- Seven Games: +194
Maple Leafs vs. Lightning 2021-22 Season Head-to-Head Results
- November 4, 2021 (at Toronto): Maple Leafs 2, Lightning 1 (OT)
- December 9, 2021 (at Toronto): Lightning 5, Maple Leafs 3
- April 4, 2022 (at Tampa Bay): Maple Leafs 6, Lightning 2
- April 21, 2022 (at Tampa Bay): Lightning 8, Maple Leafs 1
Will Lightning Strike Three Times?
Heading into the series, the Lightning know what they have to do: limit penalty minutes, double team Auston Matthews, and take advantage of their speed and talent.
The old saying “Lightning never strikes twice” is null and void when it comes to the team from the Bay. With balance and precision on offense and defense, they are poised to make another deep run in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
In order to put a stop to the dynasty that the Lightning are forming, Toronto will have to use their top-ranked power play to put out the fire and gain momentum.
The Leafs get to start the series at home, and if seven games are required to settle the score, Toronto will host four of the seven games. They have played nearly flawless at home, winning 31 of the 41 games played at Scotiabank Arena.
The tables are set for a long, eventful series. Toronto will use its top ranked offense to get ahead in games and push the Lightning to the brink. Tampa will focus on a disciplined approach and limit errors in their defensive game.
Maple Leafs vs. Lightning Prediction and Betting Tips
Series Prediction: Lightning to win the series 4-3
The playoff experience is the main factor in determining who moves on to the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs. The Lightning have all the returning tools to make yet another run and contend for their third straight championship.
It will be a close series, but ultimately, the recent dominance shown by Tampa will push them over the edge and into another second-round appearance.
With the series odds being so tight, you get good value whether you bet on the Maple Leafs or Lightning.
Toronto had the better regular season and has home ice advantage in this matchup, but to have plus odds–the Lightning are +100 at FanDuel and +110 at Caesars Sportsbook–for a two-time defending Stanley Cup champion who put up 110 points in the regular season is excellent value, especially when the Lightning enter the postseason playing and scoring at such a high level.
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