Florida Panthers (WC) vs Toronto Maple Leafs (2)
My series bets went out last night and the big question is, why so heavy on Toronto against a team that just upset the record setting President’s Trophy winning Boston Bruins in 7 games after being down 3-1 in the series? Well for starters, let’s not forget that they were down 3-1 in the series. Before their epic comeback, it looked as if the Panthers were in line for an early exit. If you read my first round breakdowns you read that I expected Alex Lyon to get benched by Game 3 in that series and he was. Sergei Bobrovsky came in and won the last three games of the series and helped Florida advance to the second round. So why would Florida even consider going back to Lyon to start Game 1 against Tampa? Because, in four games this season against the Leafs, Lyon is 1-1 with a 1.92 GAA compared to Bobrovsky’s 0-2 record with a 5 GAA. Bobrosky didn’t play relatively well against the Bruins, and it was more Boston collapsing as much as Florida putting up 15 goals in those final three games. Bobrovsky game up 16 total goals in four games. Expect the same this round. While Florida was able to get through Boston, this will be an entirely different test for them this round. They are dealing with a much faster paced Toronto team, a much more rounded and deeper team with Toronto, and they are dealing with much more explosive playmakers. Boston is not a physical team whereas Matt Tkachuk will be dealing with my unsung hero Luke Schenn this round. Toronto came in and put their feet down against Tampa and not only eliminated the defending three time Cup appearing teams, but did it on the road in Tampa. I expect Toronto to learn a lot from that series and clean up. This series should be completely high scoring and we will be riding the leafs to the promised land. With the Rangers out, this is the Leafs Cup to lose. Lyon will be chased by game 3 again, Bobrovsky will come in, and we will see Lyon back again in my opinion. Florida should be able to score, but the difference will be that they won’t be able to outscore and outpace Toronto’s offense. These teams are on two different levels especially on this stage and I would NOT be surprised if Florida fails to win two games this series. This is a series that Toronto needs to attack full throttle, and give themselves some rest while Carolina and New Jersey go to a game 7. Ilya Samsonov has a chance to step up here, but we shouldn’t see a better version of him until next round when they play a more timid offensive style team like Carolina, or a New Jersey team who’s top line did struggle against the Rangers. My prediction is the Leafs in 5, no more than 6, which is why I’m laying off the total games and playing the -1.5 instead. Don’t let Florida’s first round win against the top team in the league, where the President’s trophy winners historically struggle to win the Cup in the playoffs, fool you as to who they are as a playoff team. This team had a 10x more potent and better team last year and they got swept in the second round. Florida got hot at the right time but should not be able to piece it together for a full series against this Leafs team that is primed to break their curses.
Eastern Conference Second Round
Toronto Maple Leafs to win Series -165: 8u
Toronto Maple Leafs to win series -1.5 games +120: 5u
Toronto Maple Leafs to win series 4-1 +425: 1.5u
Toronto Maple Leafs to win series 4-2 +450: 1.5u