|TOR (-120) @ Fanduel|
3 of 3 (100%) Experts with a pick on the moneyline are aligned. 10* play on the Toronto Maple Leafs (Straight-up).
Al McMordie: BIG AL's NHL SLAPSHOT CLUB WINNER!
The 2022 Eastern Conference playoffs feature the most compelling match-ups in recent memory. In one series you have the Presidents Trophy Winner (Panthers) vs. the greatest goal scorer of our generation (Alex Ovechkin). In another, you have a legend like Sidney Crosby vs. the team (Rangers) with the best goalie in the world right now. And let's not forget this game, which pits the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champs (Lightning) vs. the team (Maple Leafs) with perhaps the next great goal scorer, Auston Matthews (to whom Ovechkin will be passing the torch). Let's also not forget that Toronto has a huge chip on its shoulder this year after being eliminated in the first round in five straight seasons coming into these playoffs. But the Leafs are a lot more than just Matthews. RW Mitch Marner put up 97 points and LW Michael Bunting (who won't play in Game 1) is the favorite for Rookie of the Year. Toronto finished the season strong with 15 win over its last 19 games, including a 5-2 blowout of Boston on Friday. Toronto's 39-15 off a win by 3+ goals, and 11-1 its last 12 at home. Admittedly, the Leafs lost the previous meeting vs. Tampa (a game which Matthews and goalie Jack Campbell missed), but have won four of the last six meetings between these two going back to the start of 2020. Toronto is a solid 18-6 when playing with revenge from a loss in which it scored less than 2 goals (and 50-31 its last 81, overall, when playing with revenge). Take Toronto.
Matt Fargo: Fargo's 10* NHL Monday Breakaway 360-320
There are some excellent first round series in the NHL playoffs but it will be hard to find one better than this. Toronto earned the No. 3 spot in the Eastern Conference with 115 points and home ice should play a big role in this series. The Maple Leafs are 31-8-2-0 at home which is the fourth best home record in the NHL and they have dominated here, averaging 3.73 gpg while allowing 2.59 gpg for one of the best scoring differentials at home across the league. Toronto is 15-3 against the money line as a home favorite of -200 or less this season. Tampa Bay won five of its final six games to hold off Boston by three points in the Atlantic Division to avoid Florida in the first round but there is not a big gap between the Panthers and Maple Leafs. The Lightning were solid on the road with 24 wins but defense has been an issue away from home as they are allowing 3.07 gpg which is middle of the pack and facing the No. 6 scoring offense at home will be a challenge so the offense will have to try and keep up against the No. 3 penalty kill team in the league at home. Tampa Bay is 3-10 against the money line in its last 13 games against teams outscoring their opponents by 0.3 or more gpg. Here, we play on favorites against the money line in the second half of the season with a winning percentage between .600 and .700 revenging a loss where it scored one or fewer goals. This situation is 82-28 (74.5 percent) over the last five seasons.
Sean Murphy: 103-68 RUN! 10* NHL TOP ATLANTIC SIDE!
We'll fade the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning in their playoff opener on Monday. The Leafs past playoff failures have been well-documented. While they certainly draw a tough opening round opponent in the Lightning, I do feel this is their best team in a number of years - one capable of making a deep playoff run. That's a story for another day, however. Here, I expect the Leafs to get this series off on the right foot, noting that the Lightning have shown some cracks in their armor this season, particularly down the stretch. Tampa Bay checks in having allowed 3.9 goals per game, outscored by an average margin of 0.6 goals, when playing on the road after winning six or seven of their last eight games this season (17-game sample size), as is the case here. The Leafs rested most of their stars but still notched a regular season-ending 5-2 win over the Bruins. That's notable as they've averaged 4.5 goals per game while outscoring opponents by 1.4 goals on average after scoring 5+ goals in their previous game this season (28-game sample size), which is the situation here. Also of note, Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell, who had an extended rough stretch during the regular season, bounced back to post a .941 save percentage over his last five starts with the Leafs going 4-1 in those games.
Best of luck!
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