NHL Hockey Betting: Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning

NHL Hockey Betting:  Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning&h=235&w=320&zc=1

You’ve got to give the Toronto Maple Leafs a lot of credit. They have no good reason to be exerting a solid effort at this point in the season. In fact, they have every reason to be losing games. With the worst record in the league they’re not going anywhere except the draft lottery. If they keep the worst record in the league, they have the best chance of selecting first and landing top pick Auston Matthews–a player projected to be a future All Star. Instead of taking the easy way out, however, they’ve been battling over the past few weeks and are 6-3-1 in their last ten games. It’s been a rough year for Canadian hockey fans but you can’t fault what the Maple Leafs are doing here–a win tonight, in fact, will put them in a two or three way tie for ‘last place’ (pending the outcome of Edmonton’s game against Anaheim).

The Tampa Bay Lightning could be in ‘letdown mode’ after an embarassing 5-2 home loss to the Florida Panthers in what was a huge game for their season. Florida is not only their ‘in state rival’ but their current competitor for first place in the Atlantic Division. The Panthers are playing better than Tampa Bay (and Boston for that matter) down the stretch and are now two points up on Tampa Bay. The Lightning could be without Nikita Kucherov here–he’s listed as ‘questionable’ due to a lower body injury. They’ll definitely be without Ryan Callahan (lower body) and defenseman Anton Stralman (fibula).

Tampa Bay should know that the Toronto Maple Leafs may have AHL level talent throughout most of their roster but they’ve been a feisty opponent late in the season. Tampa lost 4-1 at the Air Canada Centre back on March 15. The Lightning are just 17-15 in ‘revenge spots’ this year so that might not be a huge issue. Kind of a tough scheduling spot for Tampa down the stretch as they face a series of teams at home that won’t provide much intrinsic motivation (Montreal and New Jersey up next) and the Lightning are just 4-7 after 3+ home games this year. Tampa Bay should win but at this price we’d much rather back the hard trying Maple Leafs.


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