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Odds taken from DraftKings Sportsbook.
When you have two teams going head to head that are both 7-2-1 in their last ten games and are also both within two points of first in the conference, you know you’ve got a battle of the heavyweights on your hands. That’s exactly what this game is going to be. This isn’t a welterweight or a filler fight, this is a title bout. Jake Paul could take notes because this game is going to attract a lot of eyeballs.
While it’s hard to bet against Tampa right now, Toronto is just too good at home.
Leafs at -135 to win 3-2 in regulation.
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As we’ve seen all year long, the Leafs are one of the teams not to be messed with in this still young NHL season. However, if you were to pick a squad to go toe-to-toe with one of the best, it’d likely be the Bolts from the Beach. Tampa has been a little streaky at times, but right now that streak is looking pretty darn good. They’re currently on a four-game tear entering Thursday night’s contest. Now, the question of, “Can the Leafs win when it counts?” is still a valid one and the answer there remains to be seen, but so far things are looking up.
At 8-2-2 the Bolts have the best road record in the entire Atlantic Division. The location of the game hasn’t been the deciding story thus far for Tampa though, it’s been their goaltending. Yet again.
They’re currently ninth in penalty kill percentage at 83.3%. They are seventh in goals against with an average of 2.60 and they are fourth in save percentage at 953%. As for their starter Andriy Vasilevsky, he is currently sitting seventh in GAA with 2.13, seventh in save percentage at .927 and second in wins with 13. So, in other words, it really doesn’t matter who the Bolts have between the pipes. The bottom line is if the Leafs can solve the Lightning netminder – regardless of if it’s AV or Brian Elliott – they’ve got an excellent shot at taking this one.
With that in mind too, the Leafs are one of the highest-scoring teams in the NHL. The odds of them squeaking at least a few by Vasilevsky are quite high regardless of how hot the netminder has been this season.
Speaking of streaky, these Leafs have had a bit of an issue lately. They’ve posted three goals or more in each of their last eight games, but they haven’t done a great job defensively. In fact, they’ve actually allowed ten goals in their last two games alone. Thankfully, they’ve consistently found a way to outscore their opponent more often than not, but it’s quickly becoming a story of, “If the offense is missing, the Leafs lose.” That needs fixing urgently or perhaps a little coaxing.
They can either find a way to play two-way hockey or they can just keep the requirement currently in place of having to outscore their opponents night in and night out. Yes, we get it, that’s how scoreboards work – you have to outscore your opponent. However, when you’re consistently having to get three, four, five or more goals a night because your defense isn’t showing up, there are problems. That’s the case with Toronto.
Thankfully, as mentioned, they have the firepower to continue their winning ways for now. They’re putting a lot of pressure on their forwards though and an inevitable burnout should be expected at some point.
Let’s look at the trends
The Lightning have won 55 of their last 70 against the Atlantic Division. Meanwhile, Toronto has won eight of their last nine against Eastern opponents.
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|Tampa Bay Lightning vs Toronto Maple Leafs Information|
|What||Tampa Bay Lightning vs Toronto Maple Leafs|
|Where||Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON|
|When||December 9, 2021 at 8:00 pm EST|
|How to watch||Bally Sports & TSN|
Ryan has worked as a sports writer for the past decade and sports journalism for almost 15 years. He has worked in television, radio, print, digital, and podcasting since 2006. He is also the former co-host of the NFL Weekly Pick 'Em and Best Bets Podcast along with the Prop Drop on WSN.com.More info on Ryan Sullivan
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