Insane Playoff Races Complicate Cup Futures

toronto maple leafs

Jason Lake

Wednesday, April 5, 2017 1:16 PM GMT

Wednesday, Apr. 5, 2017 1:16 PM GMT

There are some intriguing value picks on the Stanley Cup odds list, but first they have to make the playoffs. Are you willing to roll the dice on the Toronto Maple Leafs?

It’s been a Canadian tradition for years now. Anytime a Toronto Maple Leafs fan gives you some guff, all you have to do is respond with two simple words: Nineteen Sixty-Seven. That’s the last time the Leafs won the Stanley Cup. Then Harold Ballard took controlling interest in the team, and that was that. For those of you not old enough to remember, Ballard was Donald Trump before Trump was Trump – except he went to jail.

That time-honored tradition could end this June. The Leafs have only been to the playoffs once since the 2004-05 lockout, but they’re on the cusp of getting back in, sitting not-so-comfortably in second place in the Atlantic Division as we go to press. They’ve got one of this year’s brightest stars in rookie Auston Matthews (39 goals, 28 assists). And they’ve got betting value as +2800 Cup outsiders on Bovada’s NHL odds list.

Maple Leaf Rag

Thanks to the NHL’s latest realignment, the Leafs still find themselves just two points away from missing the playoffs. The Ottawa Senators (+2200) and Boston Bruins (+2800) are chasing them down in the Atlantic, and there’s only one Wild Card up for grabs in the Eastern Conference – the New York Rangers (+1400) have already clinched a postseason berth as the fourth-place team in the Metropolitan Division.

Handicapping this mess won’t be easy. Wednesday's action is bound to have a major impact on the playoff race, no matter what happens. But this much we can tell you: The Bruins are the best of the bunch. Hockey Reference has Boston pegged at +0.25 on their Simple Rating System, followed by the Leafs (+0.15 SRS) and the Senators (-0.05 SRS). Make your NHL picks accordingly, and may the cylinder be with you.

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