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Stanley Cup Playoffs betting: Leafs to get back on their feet

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The first weekend of the Stanley Cup Playoffs lacked road victories, but in two of six games, the visitors had metrics that were deserving of victory.

Maple Leafs (+120) @ Bruins (-140)

No one wants to hear that a 5-1 opening-game loss in Boston wasn't that bad for the Maple Leafs, but it actually wasn't that bad.

From a metrics standpoint, Toronto had the edge in even-strength expected goals - 3.0 to 2.77 - and a significant 15-6 advantage in high-danger chances, suggesting the Leafs win the game around 62% of the time.

The problem for Toronto? The Bruins leaned on an incredible performance from Jeremy Swayman, who registered a +3.75 GSAx (goals saved above expected), while Auston Matthews hit the post on a yawning cage, missing a chance to tie the game in the second period. Add in a league-average Boston power play converting two of five opportunities, and that's a recipe for a lopsided score.

A four-goal loss still counts for only one win in a series where the Leafs would be content leaving Boston with a split. The betting market didn't think Game 1 was enough to change the odds for Game 2, as Toronto's +120 moneyline still implies it wins this game. A modest adjustment will often be made in favor of the loser of the last contest, but we're not seeing that here.

It would be a bonus for the Leafs if William Nylander returns, but they produced enough chances without him Saturday, and doing so again will give them a good shot at winning Game 2. At better than a 50-50 price at +120, the Leafs are a surprisingly good bet Monday night and worth adding to win the series at +200.

Best bet: Maple Leafs moneyline (+120)

Golden Knights (+120) @ Stars (-140)

With a pair of Game 1s yet to be played, we're still flying relatively blind in the two series that start Monday. But that's the key to playing the series opener in Dallas. The betting market doesn't know what to make of the allegedly full-strength Golden Knights.

As mentioned in the Western Conference first-round preview, Vegas - a wild-card team with mediocre metrics - is rated nearly as high as the Stars, who proved their quality all season long and earned the conference's top seed.

The market's hypothesis seems to be that the Golden Knights will take off running this week, mirroring the team that won the Stanley Cup with a 21.2% even-strength high-danger chance conversion rate (league average is 12.5%) and a rookie goaltender saving 0.71 GSAx/60. Both numbers would be a significant upgrade from Vegas' regular season. The Knights might realize that high-end potential in Game 1, but we need much longer odds to bet on them.

Instead, let's back the Stars, whose young core - with three series of playoff experience under its belt - will help them transition to postseason mode.

Best bet: Stars moneyline (-140)

Matt Russell is the lead betting analyst for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on social media @mrussauthentic.

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