Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Toronto Maple Leafs: Stanley Cup Playoffs, Game 7 Prediction, Preview, Picks & Odds - 5/14/2022

by Chuck Sommers

Eastern Conference First Round, Game 7

Time: 7 p.m. ET
Venue: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON
Where to watch: TNT, Bally Sports Sun, CBC, TVAS, Sportsnet

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks


DraftKings: Maple Leafs -125, Lightning +105
BetMGM: Maple Leafs -130, Lightning +105
Caesars: Maple Leafs -125, Lightning +105

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Lightning - Maple Leafs preview and analysis


Is it just me, or does it feel like last season all over again for the Toronto Maple Leafs? A 3-2 series lead, a chance to win on the road and advance past the first round, only to lose in overtime to come back home for a Game 7 in which they could absolutely lose?

It's like scripture has foretold: You don't count the Tampa Bay Lightning out of it until they are actually out of it. And the fact that the two-time Stanley Cup champs have found themselves in a win-or-go-home game, and the narrative of sending Toronto home early yet again has brought us once again to the edge of laughter.

But man, isn't it fun?

Just think about it. This would be the ultimate Maple Leafs narrative. This is the best team you've had in good lord knows how many years. You have the presumptive Hart Trophy winner on your team after a 60-goal season. You get matched up with the two-time defending champs, take them to the woodshed on two occasions, once at home and the other on the road.

And now you're on the ropes after losing 4-3 in overtime in Game 6 in Tampa. You had the chance to win the series, and you didn't do it. It almost reeks of past playoff failures all over again.

"Not a lot between the two teams, which is why you get it to overtime," Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. "Loved how we played in overtime. We attacked, we had chances, plenty of opportunities to finish it, and really gave them nothing until they had the look, and they made good on their one look, so that's the difference."

What was just as crazy was the Maple Leafs led 3-2 going into the third. Things were going their way. And then came a 5-on-3, with Nikita Kucherov tying it shortly after. That sounds eerily familiar to last year. Remember when Montreal had a 5-on-3 and took the lead in the third in Game 6?

And much like last year, Toronto had its chances, only to fall apart late in overtime. Brayden Point scored the game-winner in overtime.

"We know all we did was buy ourselves another chance to keep our season going," Point said. "Going into their building, their crowd has been rocking. They play really good there. We just want to focus on a good start and see what happens."

The winner of this game will be taking on the Florida Panthers in the second round, which is a sentence I didn't plan on writing at any point this season. Florida won 4-3 in overtime over the Washington Capitals in Game 6 on Friday, and now things are looking weird in the second round.

"Losing two in a row is never a good thing in the playoffs," defenseman Victor Hedman said. "It's been back and forth the whole series and now we've got to win coming off of a win. It was the best out of seven, then the best out of five, best out of three and now it's the best out of one."

Prediction


I've maintained it for as long as I can this year. You don't count the champs out until they're actually out. And plus, I just want Toronto to continue to suffer because why not? Andrei Vasilevskiy shuts the door when it matters, and Tampa gets a date with Florida to keep the 3-peat hopes alive.

Betting trends


Lightning are 84-44 against division opponents the past three seasons.

Lightning are 30-20 off an over this season.

Lightning are 6-3 all-time in Game 7.

Maple Leafs are 21-11 after a division game this season.

Maple Leafs are 3-6 in Game 7 since 1996.

Maple Leafs are 19-19 since 1996 when tied in a playoff series.

Projected lines


Lightning:

Ondrej Palat -- Steven Stamkos -- Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn -- Anthony Cirelli -- Brandon Hagel

Nicholas Paul -- Brayden Point -- Ross Colton

Pat Maroon -- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare -- Corey Perry

Victor Hedman -- Erik Cernak

Ryan McDonagh -- Cal Foote

Mikhail Sergachev -- Zach Bogosian

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Maple Leafs:

Michael Bunting -- Auston Matthews -- Mitchell Marner

Ilya Mikheyev -- John Tavares -- Alexander Kerfoot

William Nylander -- David Kampf -- Pierre Engvall

Nicholas Abruzzese -- Colin Blackwell -- Jason Spezza

Morgan Rielly -- Ilya Lyubushkin

Mark Giordano -- Timothy Liljegren

Jake Muzzin -- TJ Brodie

Jack Campbell

Don't miss our champion handicappers' free picks and expert hockey picks today. And if you enjoyed this Tampa Bay Lightning - Toronto Maple Leafs prediction, be sure to drop by every day for our daily NHL projections and previews.

Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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