- Reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners the Tampa Bay Lightning are off to a 1-1-1 start this season
- Toronto has dropped its last two games after beginning the year with morale-boosting victories
- Maple Leafs favored in this contest, despite Tampa scoring almost twice as many goals and taking the season series 3-1 last year
After both teams had longer summers that either would have liked, two of the Atlantic Division’s better teams meet for the first time in this young NHL season on Thursday night. Tampa Bay Lightning, the reigning division champions, visit the Toronto Maple Leafs with both aiming to kick-start their seasons after close back-to-back losses of late.
Bookmakers are expecting a high-scoring night in Toronto with the total set at 6.5, with juice (-130) on the “Over”.
The Lighting vs Maple Leaf odds are currently favoring Toronto, who are -113 odds to pick up the victory, but with two of the NHL’s highest-powered offenses (Tampa and Toronto finished first and fourth respectively in goals scored) there is always the potential for a freewheeling game where the first to seven goals wins. However, last season, surprisingly the “Under” was the bet that cashed in three of the four meetings between these teams.
Lightning vs Maple Leafs Odds
|Team||Spread||Moneyline||Total Points||Team Goal Odds|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+1.5 (-225)||+102||O 6.5 (-130)||O 3.5 (+110) U 3.5 (-140)|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||-1.5 (+195)||-113||U 6.5 (+118)||O 3.5 (-102) U 3.5 (-128)|
*Odds taken on 10/10/19
After recently inking a three-year, $20.25-million contract, forward Brayden Point could return for this game. The 23-year-old has been out all season following hip surgery, but his contributions last year, when he scored a career-high 41 goals and 51 assists, might just be the sparkplug Tampa needs to get going this year.
Coach Jon Cooper has been icing Point on a line with captain Steven Stamkos and reigning NHL scoring champion Nikita Kucherov in practice, so the potential for offensive fireworks on ice is clearly there. This season the Lightning have played out to a perfect 3-0 record to the “Over”, while Toronto is 2-2.
— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) October 8, 2019
And as a lynchpin of the top power-play unit, too, Point led the league with 20 power-play markers last season. The Tampa Bay power play is currently operating at a 25% success rate, good for 14th overall in the NHL.
Captain’s Call to Arms
After winning the home opener 5-2 over the Florida Panthers, Tampa embarked on a six-game road trip. The early returns weren’t great, as the Lightning lost 4-3 at Florida, before picking up a point in a 4-3 overtime loss at Carolina.
Captain Stamkos has not been happy with how his team has been playing so far, particularly so after last season’s historic run, when the team won a record-tying 62 games. Case in point, the Lightning were outshot 44-13 by the Hurricanes on Sunday, so clearly the offense has yet to find its groove.
— The NHL Tracker (@thenhltracker) October 7, 2019
Including the playoffs, when the Lightning was surprisingly swept by Columbus, Tampa has won just one of its last seven games. Stamkos said his team is falling back into the same old habits that cost the Lightning so dearly last year.
2018-19 Lightning vs Leafs Head-To-Head
Buds Aim to Bounce Back
After a couple of morale-boosting wins to start the season, the Maple Leafs came back to earth with something of a thud. First they coughed up a 4-1 lead in losing 6-5 to the rival Montreal Canadiens in a shootout, before coming up just short in a tough 3-2 loss against the defending Stanley Cup-champion St. Louis Blues.
"There's things to build off of, for sure. There were times when we really controlled play out there tonight and if we can bottle that we can become a better team."
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) October 8, 2019
Still, starting the season with four games in six nights is a tough assignment for any team, even one with as much youth and talent as the Maple Leafs.
— NHL (@NHL) October 5, 2019
Rising superstar Auston Matthews has begun the season like he always does, in red-hot form with five goals in four games, to lay down an early Rocket Richard Trophy warning. Fellow forwards Mitch Marner and William Nylander, who endured a torrid 2018-19 season, are also showing good signs, with five and four points respectively.
Pick: The Leafs will likely use home ice to their advantage to win on Thursday (-113)
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