NHL Betting Preview (May 4): Bruins vs. Maple Leafs Game 7 Predictions

The Maple Leafs celebrate a big goal in their Game 6 victory over the Bruins. (Leafs Predictions)

It all comes down to this. In a situation that felt impossible just a week ago, the Toronto Maple Leafs have tied up their series with the Boston Bruins and head to a winner-take-all Game 7 on Saturday Night. For fans of both teams, this is a night of nervous anticipation. For hockey on the whole? There are few things better. Let’s dive in.

Bet on Maple Leafs vs. Bruins GM 7

TOR +122
BOS -133

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The Maple Leafs are road underdogs, coming in at between +110 and +122 on the moneyline.

Bruins vs. Maple Leafs Best Odds

Maple Leafs Moneyline Odds+122 @ Betano
Bruins Moneyline Odds-132 @ Proline+
Puckline oddsMaple Leafs +1.5 (-218) @ Pinnacle
Bruins -1.5 (+195) @ bet365
Total Over 5.5 goals (+115) @ Pinnacle
Under 5.5 goals (-128) @ Betano
Time/DateMay 4, 8:00 p.m. ET
TVBroadcast: CBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports (French)
Stream: Sportsnet+, CBC Gem
(How to watch the NHL in Canada?)

Last Matchup

Game six was a tense, low-scoring affair with a once-familiar hero returning to his throne. The Maple Leafs put heavy pressure on the Bruins to kick the game off, going nearly a full period without giving up an even-strength shot, but couldn’t beat Jeremy Swayman. There was a sense that if these were the typical Maple Leafs, the first half-decent Boston look would bury them. But once the Bruins got their own opportunities, Joseph Woll was up to the task of keeping them away.

Scoring remained at a standstill until the final minute of the second period, where William Nylander held up the puck just long enough to find the right mix of space and traffic. His shot wasn’t the deadliest snipe in the world, but a bounce off Charlie McAvoy created the commotion needed to beat Swayman and give Toronto a lead to carry into the third. Boston made a push from there, and came close a few times, but with two and a half minutes to go, Matthew Knies’ quick thinking sent Nylander on a breakaway, and this time, his scoring chance was much more direct, sliding the puck under Swayman to give the Leafs much-needed insurance.

Unfortunately for Woll, who was spectacular throughout the evening, his shutout bid was ruined by the Leafs not fully playing to the whistle, as Morgan Geekie scored a bit of a moral victory goal with 0.1 seconds left on the clock. At that point, it had no real impact on the game, unless you found a book that favoured Toronto and took the Leafs -1.5, but for the players on the ice, they were happy to shake it off and celebrate the win instead.

Betting Toronto Maple Leafs (3-3 SU, 3-3 ATS, 1-4-1 o/u)

Once again, you have to give all the credit to the Maple Leafs for not rolling over here. A city that was ready to accept its fate seven days ago is now hungry to finish this series off, and it’s a testament to the level of compete that the Leafs showed over these last two games that fans aren’t just laughing it off as a fake comeback, but allowing themselves the possibility of being hurt again.

The obvious standout on Thursday was Nylander, who missed much of this series with migraine issues and took a little bit of time to ramp back up. Signs of a potential pop were there on Tuesday with a few nice scoring chances that went unfinished, but Game 6 was the statement game. Not only did Nylander score both their goals, but he led the team in shots, played the third-most amount of ice time among the forwards, and his ability to carry the puck gave the group a dynamic they sorely missed to start the series. Their transition game is still a sore spot, but when he’s on the ice, they look a lot better.

Joseph Woll has also been a revelation, fending off 54 of 56 shots since coming into the series in the third period of Game 4. His demeanour feels like it’s rubbed off on the team, and his movement looks back to where it was before his mid-season ankle sprain. The blue line stepped up as well, with a notably lights-out two-way performance by Jake McCabe, two assists from Morgan Rielly, and the best game of the series from Ilya Lyubushkin, who has had ups and downs but finally chained some plays together, on and off the puck with consistency in this one.

Betting Boston Bruins (3-3 SU, 3-3 ATS, 1-4-1 o/u)

Over on the other side, nerves have to have started hitting in the Boston dressing room. That’s not to say that they’ve rolled over by any means in the last two games – both ultimately decided in the final minutes – but after the way they finished last season, a Game 7 like this has to create some tension.

Brad Marchand tried to keep emotions measured after the loss. “If someone told us at the beginning of the season that it would be Game 7 at home against Toronto, we’d take that all day,” said the Bruins captain on Thursday. “It doesn’t matter how you get there — we’re there.”

Do we really believe it, though? If the Bruins lose tonight, they’ll be the first team in the history of the “Big 4″ North American sports leagues to blow two consecutive 3-1 series leads, having already done so after carrying the best regular season record in NHL history last year. Bruins coach Jim Montgomery was blunt about his top forward, calling out David Pastrnak after the loss. “Pasta needs to step up. He needs to be the dominant player that we’re used to. He’s doing it in flurries. He’s not doing it as consistently as he did during the regular season.”

It’ll be interesting to see how they all respond. They can make two years of first-round frustration go away tonight, or they can effectively stick a fork in this era of the team by capping off another epic collapse.

Projected Bruins and Leafs Lines

Today’s Toronto Maple Leafs LinesToday’s Boston Bruins Lines
Tyler Bertuzzi – Max Domi – Mitch Marner
Matthew Knies – John Tavares – William Nylander
Nick Robertson – Pontus Holmberg – Noah Gregor
Connor Dewar – David Kampf – Calle Jarnkrok

Morgan Rielly – Ilya Lyubushkin
Simon Benoit – Jake McCabe
Joel Edmundson – Timothy Liljegren

Starting In Goal
Joseph Woll
PO: 1-0-0, 0.75 GAA, 0.970 SV%
RS: 12-11-1, 2.94 GAA, 0.907 SV%
Jake Debrusk – Pavel Zacha – David Pastrnak
Brad Marchand – Charlie Coyle – Morgan Geekie
James Van Riemsdyk – Trent Frederic – Justin Brazeau
John Beecher – Jesper Boqvist – Pat Maroon

Mason Lohrei – Charlie McAvoy
Hampus Lindholm – Brandon Carlo
Parker Wotherspoon – Kevin Shattenkirk

Starting In Goal
Jeremy Swayman
PO: 1-0-0, 1.01 GAA, 0.972 SV%
RS: 25-10-8, 2.53 GAA, 0.916 SV%

The Leafs are currently projected to run the same lines that they won Game 6 with. The million-dollar question is what they’ll do if a certain megastar becomes available in the next few hours. Should Auston Matthews return, the expectation is that Noah Gregor will be the one who comes out. What else happens from there remains to be seen. I like the idea of putting him on that third line and giving him spot duty between Robertson and Holmberg, especially if in the “good enough to play, not good enough to come close to 100%” range. If he’s feeling good, maybe John Tavares slides to that line and Matthews ends up with Knies and Nylander. Either way, I would keep the Bertuzzi-Domi-Marner line together as is – even when they haven’t produced, they’ve tilted the ice.

The Bruins didn’t change much in Game Six, swapping out Matt Grzelcyk for Parker Wotherspoon on the blue line, and taking out Danton Heinen for John Beecher. As it stands, nothing has come out suggesting that they’ll be changing either back, though we’ll see what develops over the course of the day.

John Tavares to score a goal


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Bruins vs. Maple Leafs Injury Concerns

There are no new updates for either team just yet. Of course, the focus is on Auston Matthews, who we know was sick at some point, and think also got hurt at another point, but we have no exact details on what specifically happened in either case. There have been no confirmed reports one way or another when it comes to his Game 7 availability. My understanding from this vantage point is that he’s yet to be ruled out, though it would still be wise to treat his return as a pleasant surprise rather than as a likely situation.

  • The Bruins are 7-3 in the last ten games between the two teams, though don’t look now, but the Leafs are now 3-2 in the last five… a similar story can be told for the puckline, with Boston going 6-4 over the ten games they’ve played against each other since November 2nd, but with Toronto having the 3-2 edge in the back half of that list.
  • Boston are 4-6 in their last ten games, with an identical record against the puck line. They’ve cleared the total goals line twice across those ten games.
  • The Maple Leafs are 3-7 in their last ten games, both straight up and against the puck line. They’ve cleared the total goals line five times in that stretch.
  • Mitch Marner is the Maple Leafs’ most productive forward over their last ten games, with nine points earned through two goals and a team-leading seven assists.
  • On the goal front, John Tavares is the only player on the Leafs who has scored more than twice in their last ten games. Crazy, isn’t it? He has six. He also leads the group in shots on goal with 35.
  • Brad Marchand leads the Bruins in scoring over their last ten games, with co-leads in both goals (4) and assists (5). Jake Debrusk also has four goals, while David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy both have five assists. Pastrnak leads the team in shots on goal with 32 over that stretch.

Boston vs. Maple Leafs Predictions

  • With the call out from Jim Montgomery, I think we see Pastrnak at least make his best effort at reversing the narrative surrounding him. The best value you’ll find on his 3.5 shots on goal line is on DraftKings, sitting at -166. Even in his struggles, he cleared this line in Games 4, 5, and 6. If you think he’ll fully deliver what’s being asked of him, you can get him for a goal at +125 on Sports Interaction, or a multi-point game on Pinnacle at +161.
  • For the Leafs, I look to the captain. As mentioned above, John Tavares has been the only one consistently putting the pucks in the net for them in the past couple of weeks, and he’s risen to big games before. I’m looking to that +200 for an anytime goal on Sports Interaction tonight.
  • If you’re feeling that this game could get as tense as possible for both teams, a tie at regulation – setting up for a winner-take-all overtime – can be picked up at +316 on Pinnacle.

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