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Western Conference Quarterfinal
Toronto +102 over Tampa Bay
7:30 PM EST. OT included. Interesting series that figures to attract more interest than most just because Leafs Nation is so large and Tampa is the defending champs. Now add in the intrigue of the first two games and one can truly understand the appeal.
The market mostly had reservations about getting behind Toronto in Game 1 because of their brutal first round history over the past two decades but the Leafs responded with a flawless performance in a convincing 5-0 victory. The efficient market would then respond to Toronto’s dominance by driving up the price in Game 2 from the opening price of -115 to the closing price of -135 to -140 and we all know what happened next. The ghosts of playoffs past would return when Tampa paid back Toronto with a convincing win of their own. Now what?
We mentioned prior to Game 2 (and many times previously) that we are not in the prediction business. Had we been, we may have got caught playing Toronto in Game 2 based on what we saw in Game 1. That's a bad strategy. We also warned you not to get caught paying an inflated price on Toronto in Game 2. We made the error of not getting behind Tampa in Game 2 after the efficient market drove up the price. We will not make that mistake again in this series. Now the talk reverts back to the ghosts of Toronto’s past, just like it did before Game 1.
We also have a strong zig-zag scenario here, meaning the efficient market grabbed Tampa in Game 1, Toronto in Game 2 and now it is back to Tampa in Game 3 based on the Bolts performance and of course the ghosts narrative. We would be fibbing to you if we suggested we knew who was going to win here. Nobody knows. However, what we can do is point you in the direction of the value and that now shifts back to the Maple Leafs. This is a defining moment for Toronto to step up and play their hearts out for every single shift until that final bell sounds. Perhaps the worst thing for Toronto was a blowout win in Game 1 because it was too easy. Perhaps the best thing was a loss in Game 2 because it was a good lesson that the Bolts are not going to quit and that they (Toronto) have to earn it but let’s call a spade a spade, shall we?
The Leafs were not the second best team in Game 1 or Game 2. They were highly undisciplined in Game 2 by taking a slew of foolish and unnecessary penalties. Tampa relies on scoring power-play goals and it’s an area that the Leafs surely have addressed going to Tampa. They MUST not take stupid penalties. If they stay out of the box, they are clearly the superior side. Five-on-five, Toronto is deeper and better. The Victor Hedman power-play goal, scored after a foolish holding penalty by Alex Kerfoot, should not have happened. The Nikita Kucherov power-play goal came after an unnecessary penalty by Simmonds, who had other unnecessary penalties on this night.
The Leafs have proven they can score. They have proven that Andrei Vasilevskiy is not invincible. Vasilevskiy indeed has made some dazzling saves and he’ll make some more to be sure but Toronto creates so many great scoring chances that he cannot save them all. Toronto has eight goals in two games and Vasilevskiy has been great.
If Toronto loses tonight, they are not done. They have two games to get it back to even heading back to Toronto. They could even be up 3-1 going to Toronto but one thing is certain. The Maple Leafs will be the underdog in both games in Tampa and that makes them extremely playable.
Toronto +102 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.04)