Sports

Maple Leafs vs. Panthers Game 6 pick: NHL playoff predictions, odds

Coming into Round 2, you’d have thought that the series between the Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs would be a wild, back-and-forth affair with plenty of scoring.

Everybody seemed to agree this matchup between two high-powered NHL offenses would be a dream for over bettors.

Not so fast. 

All four games in the series so far have gone under the total and the last two games featured a total of seven goals in regulation.

The most recent contest was a 2-1 Leafs victory in a defensive battle that featured very few high-danger scoring chances for either side. 

So the question bettors must ponder now is whether we overestimated how much pizzazz would be on display in this series or if there’s just been some funky, random stuff going on to keep the games from sailing over the total. 

After the first three games, I would lean toward the latter.

Although none of the games went over 6.5 goals, all three of them had plenty of chances to get there, but came up short thanks to some terrific goaltending and puck luck.

According to Natural Stat Trick, Florida and Toronto combined for a total of 20.3 expected goals through the first three contests, but only 16 pucks went into the net. 

The box scores may not have shown it but these were back-and-forth contests that could have turned into 10-goal thrillers with a bounce here or there.

That’s why bookmakers didn’t adjust the total down from a heavily juiced 6.5. 

But Game 4 may change things a bit. 

After three all-action contests in a row, the script for Wednesday night’s game read very differently.

The Leafs were facing elimination and seemed determined to slow things down and play a more defensive, rigid style of hockey.


Sergei Bobrovsky
Sergei Bobrovsky
Getty Images

It’s not what we’re accustomed to seeing out of this group, but the strategy worked as Toronto collected its first win of the series. 

By clogging up the neutral zone and gumming up the middle of the ice, the Leafs made it quite difficult for Florida to get anything going offensively, but the same was true for Toronto, a team that thrives on offensive creativity. 

Every game in a playoff series is different and perhaps the Leafs felt they needed to button things up to just get on the board, but trying to turn every contest into a coin flip seems a dangerous game to play when you’re in a 3-1 series hole.

Perhaps it would make sense if Toronto was an underdog that didn’t have the talent advantage in this series, but that’s not the case.

I’d expect the Leafs to play a lot looser in Game 5 and try to impose their will on the Panthers with their playmakers leading the way. 

Betting on the NHL?

The bookies seem to lean that way, too, as the total for Game 5 is still sitting at 6.5 with juice on the over. 

Despite the defensive showcase we saw in Game 4, I still think every game in this series has great “lottery-ticket” potential when it comes to same-game parlays and bets of that nature.

We should have had at least one 10-goal thriller already in this series and it wouldn’t be a shock if we get a couple if this goes beyond Game 5. 

And if you’re interested in joining me on this strategy, the players I’ll be targeting for my AGSSGP (anytime goal-scorer same-game parlay) will be Sam Bennett, Brandon Montour, William Nylander and Morgan Rielly. 

Maple Leafs vs. Panthers prediction

Over 6.5 goals (-125, PointsBet)

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