Leaf Report: The Two Greatest Words In Sports: GAME 7
Toronto Hoping To Exercise The 2013 Demons
The Toronto Maple Leafs collapse has been an often brought up topic during this series with Boston, as even Leafs players themselves have acknowledged it at various times. Leafs defenceman Jake Gardiner even said after Toronto's Game 5 win where they held on for dear life to a 4-1 lead for the final 20 minutes (ultimately winning 4-3) that the curse of 2013 has been broken, but you've got to wonder if he may want to backtrack on those comments a bit now that Game 7 has arrived. There are still a handful of Leafs on the team that were involved in that game and you know they'd love nothing more then to win tonight and put all that nonsense of curses etc behind them.
The good news for Toronto is that the 2018 version of the team is a much more talented crew at nearly every position, and the bulk of Toronto's stars like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander aren't carrying any of that baggage with them tonight. Add in some veteran leadership like what Patrick Marleau brings to the dressing room and this Maple Leafs team is all about the here and now and are just looking to get through this tough first round matchup. Whether that actually helps Toronto tonight remains to be seen, but I wouldn't let the ghosts of 2013 cloud up your thinking when handicapping this Game 7.
Boston's Got Plenty Of Pressure Themselves
There is always two sides to every story, and while most of the hockey world is focused on Toronto and all that a Game 7 win (or loss) means to that franchise, it's not like Boston is sailing into this one playing with house money; it's quite the opposite actually.
A Boston Bruins loss tonight would make it three straight for a team that looked so dominate in Games 1 and 2 and may spark significant changes within their own organization. Remember, the Bruins were -300ish home favourites against Florida on the final day of the regular season and lost 4-2. A win that day would have given Boston the #1 overall seed in the Eastern Conference and all of this drama could have been avoided. Now the Bruins are staring another possible unforeseeable loss right in the face, to the hated Maple Leafs no less, and this one would end Boston's season.
Betting Game 7? Consider This:
The Boston Bruins are listed as -170 home favourites at Bet365 for this Game 7 at home tonight, and considering it's a one game, winner-take-all scenario, I'm not sure laying that chalk is the best way to go. In the history of seven-game series' in the first round of the NHL playoffs, teams that are at home for Game 7 after blowing a 3-1 series lead are just 2-2 SU in that do-or-die contest. A 50% track record is not something I'd like to see if I already had a -170 Boston ticket in my pocket.
Leafs nation continually expects something bad to happen to them/their team and while most diehards never stop "Beleafing" their weren't many Toronto fans out their who truly believed their team would get through Boston in this round when they thought about it rationally. However, the momentum is with Toronto right now and given all the storylines that would come out of a Toronto victory with them "breaking the Boston curse" etc, etc, there are probably plenty of sportswriters out there secretly hoping they don't have to pen a piece about another Toronto collapse in a Game 7 in Boston.
At +150 odds, Toronto is more than worth a look here, as this young team with a proven winner behind the bench this time around (Mike Babcock) is ready to take that next step and cast aside past failures. I expect Toronto to try and jump all over the Bruins early again like they did here in Game 5, and to not let their foot off the gas until the final second has run off the clock.
You might not see a city celebrate a first round playoff win like the City of Toronto will should they win this tonight, and after dealing with tragic news already this week after the senseless act of violence the city of Toronto experienced, Toronto, the Maple Leafs, and more importantly their fans, could use some positive news and a win/celebration like this. I believe Toronto gets to feel that joy tonight.
Betting Pick: Toronto Maple Leafs ML +150
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