Toronto Maple Leafs right winger Mitch Marner(16) celebrates his goal with teammates during an NHL hockey game against the Montreal Canadians, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, in Toronto, Canada. (AP Photo/Peter Power)
- The Toronto Maple Leafs are -200 favorites to defeat the Montreal Canadiens in Game 1 of their Stanley Cup North Division first-round series on Thursday, May 20th
- It’s the first playoff series between these two original NHL franchises since 1979
- Toronto hasn’t won a playoff game against Montreal since 1967
The first time Toronto and Montreal clashed in the NHL playoffs was in the spring of 1918, the first campaign in league history. The most recent time the Maple Leafs and Canadiens faced each other, Jimmy Carter was in the White House.
Oh, and the last time the Leafs won a postseason series – or for that matter, a playoff game – from the Canadiens, was during Canada’s Centennial year. It was a fateful date. May 2nd, 1967 in Toronto, the Leafs beat the Canadiens 3-1 in Toronto to win their most recent Stanley Cup title.
These two teams are meeting in the playoffs for the first time since the 1979 Stanley Cup quarterfinals. The Canadiens vs Leafs Game 1 odds indicate that Toronto’s time to shine has arrived.
Canadiens vs Leafs Game 1 Odds
|Player||Moneyline||Spread at DraftKings||Total|
|Montreal Canadiens||+167||+1.5 (-165)||O 5.5 (-120)|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||-200||-1.5 (+133)||U 5.5 (-103)|
Odds as of May 19th
The Leafs are solid -200 favorites to win Game 1 of this best-of-seven set on Thursday at the Scotiabank Center. Toronto was 4-1 straight up at home against Montreal this season. However, the Leafs were a dismal 1-4 against the spread at home when facing the Habs.
The puck is slated to drop for Game 1 of this set at 7:30 PM EST. The NHL Network is carrying the broadcast.
Clearing That First Hurdle
Not since the spring of 2004 have the Maple Leafs won a playoff series. Still, that’s recent history compared to their lack of success when facing the Canadiens in the postseason.
2021 Stanley Cup Odds Tracker
Montreal won the last two series – the 1979 quarterfinal set and a 1978 semifinal match – in four games. The last time the Leafs won a playoff game against Montreal, there were just six teams in the NHL.
Overall this season, Toronto won seven of 10 games against Montreal. The Leafs suit up Auston Matthews, the NHL’s leading goal scorer with 41.
The Toronto Maple Leafs will face the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since April 1979
Zdeno Chara is the only active NHL player who was alive at the time … Joe Thornton was born a few months later
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) May 12, 2021
Montreal’s .527 winning percentage is the worst among the 16 NHL playoff teams. In fact, it’s lower than the Dallas Stars and New York Rangers, both teams that missed the playoffs. The 24 wins posted by the Habs were less than victory totals accumulated by the Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, and Calgary Flames, all teams that didn’t qualify for postseason play.
Canadiens vs Leafs Series Odds
|Team||Odds at DraftKings|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||-315|
Canadiens Going With Puzzling Lineup
Head scratching is the order of the day as hockey people examine the players Montreal has chosen to make healthy scratches for Game 1. Choosing size and experience over speed, the Canadiens are going into action against Toronto minus 2019 first-round draft pick Jesperi Kotkaniemi, 2020 first-round draft pick Cole Caufield, and 2018 second-round pick Alexander Romanov.
#Habs Romanov will also sit Game 1. Merrill and Weber practised together today and likely will be a pair to start the series. @TSN_Edge
— John Lu (@JohnLuTSNMtl) May 18, 2021
Kotkaniemi appeared in all 56 regular-season games for Montreal. Last year, he skated in all 10 postseason games for the Habs.
Caufield posted 4-5-9 numbers in 10 games when he joined the Habs after playing college hockey at Wisconsin. On a team that ranks 14th among the 16 playoff teams in goals scored, you’d think that kind of production would be a welcome addition to the lineup.
Romanov is coming out to make room for captain Shea Weber. He’s returning after missing the final eight games of the regular season because of an upper-body injury.
Canadiens vs Leafs Game 1 Best Bet
All seven times that Toronto has beaten Montreal in the NHL playoffs, the team has won the Stanley Cup. The Canadiens have won the Stanley Cup following seven of their eight playoff series victories over Toronto.
The team with the home-ice advantage has won eight of the past 10 playoff series between the Canadiens and Maple Leafs. Montreal has never beaten Toronto in the postseason when not holding the extra home game in the set.
Jack Campbell is expected to start for the @MapleLeafs in Game 1 against the Canadiens on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET on CBC, TVAS, SN, NHLN).
He will look to become the 9th goalie to win his #StanleyCup Playoffs debut with Toronto and 5th to do so in the expansion era. #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/oEhoJhaoHw
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) May 19, 2021
Toronto is 3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS when playing host to Game 1 of a playoff series against Montreal. The Leafs welcome back defenseman Zach Bogosian, who missed four weeks with a shoulder injury.
Montreal led the NHL this season with 27.9 hits per game. The Habs also averaged 8.18 penalty minutes per game, tops in the North Division.
Pick: Toronto Maple Leafs -1.5 (+133)
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An industry veteran, Bob literally taught the course on the history of sports at Elder College. He has worked as a Sports Columnist for Postmedia, appeared as a guest on several radio stations, was the Vice President of the Society For International Hockey Research in Ontario, and written 25 books.