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NHL Playoff Betting - Habs vs. Leafs: Price is on Toronto's Side

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
May/20/2021

The way the Montreal Canadiens see it, they are getting healthy at just the right time.

But will they need some time to get into the swing of things?

That is a legitimate question for 1VICE.AG customers to be asking as this best-of-seven NHL North Division playoff series against the Toronto Maple Leafs gets underway.

We've asked that question too, and you may or may not be surprised with our answer.

Game 1 is slated for Thursday night at 7:38 PM ET at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

Here's the setup:

NHL North Playoffs - Game 1 

MONTREAL CANADIENS at TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS, Thursday, 7:38 PM ET

NHL Playoff Betting Lines at Online Sportsbooks:

Moneyline:  Maple Leafs -200 / Canadiens +170 

Total:  Over 5.5 Goals (-115) / Under 5.5 Goals (-105) 

Puck Line:  Maple Leafs -1.5 Goals (+139) / Canadiens +1.5 Goals (-159)

It is kind of hard to believe that this is the first time these clubs have met in the playoffs since 1979. But that's the case. Toronto has had an unusual drought of success in the postseason, having not gotten past the first round since 2004. They fully intend to change that, and they are positioned to do it.

The Leafs have had the clear edge in the season series, winning seven of the ten games and out scoring the Habs by a 34-25 margin. It’s this useful information that will help you make money betting the NHL Playoffs.

Both of these teams have had plenty of time off, and during this period the Canadiens have experienced the return of some players from whom major contributions are mandatory in order for them to be competitive.

First of all, there is Carey Price, the former league MVP, who has been out of action since suffering a concussion a month ago. Coach Dominique Ducharme maintains that Price, who's had a 2.68 goals-against and .901 save percentage this season, will be between the pipes for the opener. Not that Montreal is all that compromised with Jake Allen, who posted similar numbers.

Defenseman Shea Weber will also be ready after missing the last eight games of the season (upper body injury). Phillip Danault, who normally anchors the first line, will also be back after missing two weeks with a concussion.

And then there is Brendan Gallagher, who might have been Montreal's top scorer had he not gone down with a broken thumb a month and a half ago. He comes back as well, and there should be a nice emotional boost from all this.

But Toronto (a -318 / +268 favorite to win the series at 1VICE.AG) has the capability to mitigate emotional boosts on the part of the opponent. They won 62.5% of their games (35-14-7), and the Leafs' 77 points far outdistanced that of Montreal (with 59).

The Leafs have much more in the way of offensive firepower, and could be a force in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That includes California-born, Arizona-raised Auston Matthews, who led the NHL with 41 goals. He had seven goals and seven assists in the ten games against the Habs this season. The line of Matthews, along with Mitch Marner, who had 67 points (one more than Matthews) and Zach Hyman (15 goals in 43 games) can exert a lot of pressure. In the regular season, Toronto was fourth in the NHL in both High Danger Chances produced and the percentage of those HDC's that result in goals.

Hyman has missed a month with an MCL sprain, and rust may be a concern. But he's a good compliment on that line.

Oh, on top of that, the Maple Leafs have the better man in goal as well. Jack Campbell's numbers were outstanding - he had a .921 save percentage and 2.15 goals-against.

And frankly, we're a little skeptical that Price can be super-sharp after missing an extended period of time. The same goes for Weber, Gallagher and Danault, the latter two of whom are on Montreal's #1 line. These guys have to, as the saying goes, get their legs under them.

We're not shy about the "price" on the Leafs. So we're going to go ahead and lay it.

The Play: TORONTO (-200)

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