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Oddsmakers list Maple Leafs as favourites to beat Lightning in playoff series
Is this the year the Toronto Maple Leafs finally make it out of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs?
Well, it seems like oddsmakers feel that way.
The Leafs are -150 favourites to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in their upcoming first-round matchup, as per Sports Interaction.
Toronto has secured home ice in their first-round series, meaning they’ll host Games 1 and 2, as well as Game 5 and Game 7, if necessary.
The most likely outcome of the series per oddsmakers is Toronto winning in seven games (at +405 odds), while a Lightning 4-0 sweep is coming in at +1400 odds so far.
A full list of different odds to bet on is available on Sports Interaction, including player props, series over-unders, and the correct final score of the series.
But while Toronto's performed better over the regular season to date than their divisional counterparts, the Lightning have been one of the NHL’s most impressive franchises over the last decade, winning a league-high 84 playoff games since the 2013 postseason.
Toronto, by comparison, has won 38 over that time span (19th league-wide), while the second-place team — the Pittsburgh Penguins — have won 60 games.
The Lightning are a unique animal when it comes to the NHL playoffs, having won a whopping 22 playoff series since the last time the Leafs won a single postseason round way back in 2004 against the Ottawa Senators.
Toronto’s been the laughingstock of the league come playoff time, having fallen in eight consecutive playoff rounds dating back 19 years, including losing in the first round in each of the past six seasons.
But if there's any reason for optimism, it might be Toronto's 4-3 victory last night over those Lightning in Tampa without star players Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews.
"The character of our group is really strong as well as the togetherness of the group in terms of just rallying around whatever the situation is and giving us all they have, whatever we're asking of them at this point," Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe told reporters on Tuesday night.
The NHL playoffs are set to kick off Monday, April 17, though we're still waiting for the schedule to drop to figure out exactly when the Leafs and Lightning will get things going.
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