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Stanley Cup Playoffs betting: Bruins or Leafs in coin-flip Game 3?

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Wednesday's NHL playoff slate has a pair of intriguing Game 2 matchups, plus the Bruins and Maple Leafs have the honor of being the first series to shift locations, which tightens the game line even further.

Game 3: Bruins (-105) @ Maple Leafs (-115)

Uncomfortable bets often make for good ones, and backing and winning with the Maple Leafs in Boston on Monday was one you had to grit your teeth for. However, the even-strength metrics suggested that - with more evenly matched special teams and no outlier goaltending performance - the final score might be considerably different the second time around.

Sure enough, we saw a textbook carryover as Leafs skaters created similar expected goals share (52% to 55%) and again generated more even-strength high-danger chances (HDCs). This time, the teams matched power-play goals, and Linus Ullmark was merely average compared to Jeremy Swayman's outstanding Game 1. Meanwhile, Ilya Samsonov was much better in Game 2.

Now, the scene shifts to Toronto, and the odds reflect the change in home-ice advantage. However, shouldn't the Leafs' good even-strength metrics give them a little more credit?

With this being the first game where a series has shifted venues, it's worth a reminder that this means Toronto has the last change. That should provide more room for Auston Matthews and potentially lead to more production for the secondary players, while the Leafs can match their best defenders with the Bruins' dangerous top line if they want to.

Best bet: Maple Leafs moneyline (-115)

Game 2: Golden Knights (+145) @ Stars (-175)

Betting, like life, isn't fair. We backed the Stars on Monday, arguing that the game wasn't priced correctly. Dallas was priced at -140 for Game 1, 60 minutes of hockey was played, and the betting market took it all in and decided that the Stars should be -175 in the rematch. By that logic, we were right to bet on Dallas at a 5% edge on the favorite.

As for a game breakdown, we couldn't have gotten a better runout on paper. Dallas held the Golden Knights to just six HDCs at even strength and took just two penalties.

Unfortunately, sports are illogical, so Vegas scored on both power plays and added two more goals on non-high-danger chances, scoring four times on just 15 shots on Jake Oettinger in a 4-3 win.

Everything else aligned as you'd expect. Logan Thompson brought a 0.15 GSAx/60 into the playoffs and gave up a soft goal en route to a 0.26 GSAx in Game 1. The Stars converted two of their 11 even-strength HDCs - in line with their 13.1% regular-season conversion rate.

The moneyline isn't the short price offered before Game 1 - but, hopefully, Oettinger makes more than 11 saves, and the rest of the game goes virtually the same. If that's the case, Dallas should win without the need for overtime.

Best bet: Stars win in regulation (-105)

Game 2: Kings (+160) @ Oilers (-190)

The most forgivable portion of a Stanley Cup Playoff series is the first period of Game 1. Teams handle the change in intensity from the regular season and the high-intensity environment differently. Plus, strategic adjustments haven't yet been made, nor have teams been physically worn down.

The Oilers were more ready to go than the Kings on Monday, as Edmonton racked up 10 even-strength HDCs to Los Angeles' one. Some apathy from a 4-0 Oilers lead may have had something to do with the Kings closing the gap in the predictive metrics, but confidence from Los Angeles scoring four times at even strength may carry over to Game 2.

I'm expecting a more alert start and hope the usually stingy Kings can stay out of the box after their No. 2-ranked penalty kill allowed three goals on four Oilers' power plays. L.A.'s an underdog worth taking a shot on to even the series.

Best bet: Kings moneyline (+160)

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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