Maple Leafs' inability to close out a series reaching extreme levels of improbability
The Toronto Maple Leafs keep missing opportunities to eliminate opponents at a rate that is becoming difficult to fathom.
If it feels like the Toronto Maple Leafs' inability to finish off playoff opponents has reached a truly absurd level, that's because it has.
Toronto's continual failure to escape the first round is a tough thing to quantify accurately, but JFreshHockey of EP Rinkside did an excellent job of doing just that on Friday by using betting odds.
The Leafs have lost 11 straight games where they could have advanced to the second round of the playoffs.
Using implied probability based on betting lines at the time, there was about a 1 in 9999 chance of them having lost every single one of these games. pic.twitter.com/2tJNHXmCxQ
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) April 28, 2023
His conclusion that there's approximately a one in 10 thousand chance of things playing out the way they have is a jarring one.
In order to better understand the ludicrous improbability of this series of events, we've dug up some odds at the BetMGM Sportsbook that are priced with a 0.1 percent implied probability, which is usually about as long as you can find.
To put what's happened to the Maple Leafs lately in context, everything you see below is approximately 10 times more likely than Toronto's continued letdowns on the brink of making the second round.
Here's a summary by sport:
It's tough to find an outcome priced at +100,000 in these NHL playoffs, but if you bet on a hyper-specific Stanley Cup matchup you can make it happen.
In this case we're looking at Florida Panthers vs. Los Angeles Kings. As of writing both teams are in 3-2 holes in their first-round series against the record-setting Boston Bruins and the offensively gifted Edmonton Oilers.
Neither entered the playoffs looking like anything but first-round fodder and each would be underdogs in every series they'd play from here on out if they first pull off massive simultaneous upsets over the next few days.
Not looking good.
It's tough to find a +100,000 outcome in the NBA playoffs right now, but there is one possibility on the board.
That is a bet on the Miami Heat to beat the Sacramento Kings in the NBA Finals.
While the Heat have been getting some outrageous performances from Jimmy Butler lately, it would still be hard to advise a bet on this one. Even if Miami somehow made it through the New York Knicks — and one of the Boston Celtics or Philadelphia 76ers — it would still need the Kings to meet them there.
Sacramento is a great story, but digging out a 3-2 hole against the defending champion Golden State Warriors then running through the Western Conference seems borderline impossible. If the Kings managed that you'd have to like their chances against Miami with home-court advantage.
To find something at our +100,000 price point in baseball — to reiterate, an event that bookkeepers see as 10 times more likely than what's happening to the Maple Leafs — you have to bet on one of MLB's worst teams to win it all.
Specifically the Colorado Rockies, Oakland Athletics, or Washington Nationals.
These teams are a combined 22-54 with a run differential of minus-173. Predicting any of them to post a .500 record at this point would be nothing short of laughable.
FanGraphs projects each to have a statistically insignificant chance of winning a title, listing the trio at 0.0% to win it all. The site also has the Rockies and Athletics with 0.0% chance of even making the playoffs, while the Nationals sit at 0.1%.
While the Will Levis situation has folks questioning what they know about probabilities, to reach our magic +100,000 we have to go beyond NFL Draft shenanigans and start picking Super Bowl matchups nearly 10 months in advance.
Here are two that fit the bill.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Las Vegas Raiders
Neither team projects to be true bottom feeders, but this would be a wild outcome. One team went 8-9 with Tom Brady last year and would have to get better under Baker Mayfield despite a brutal cap situation that rendered it unable to meaningfully improve its roster in free agency.
The other needs Jimmy Garoppolo to stay healthy and lead a deep playoff run while surviving the AFC West gauntlet — and getting vastly improved play from its defence. Smart money is on a collective record below .500 for these clubs.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Atlanta Falcons
This one doesn't require much explanation as good a coach as Mike Tomlin is and as interesting as the Falcons' skill-position players are.
Kenny Pickett versus Desmond Ridder is not a Super Bowl matchup we're going to see next season — or, realistically, ever.
And yet, if the Maple Leafs have taught us anything it might be wise not to rule it out.
If you're looking to bet on the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday, you can back Pierre Gasly to win at +100,000.
The idea of a single driver winning being this improbable may be hard to fathom, but here are some details worth knowing about Gasly's chances this weekend.
Max Verstappen has two of three races this season, and is heavily favoured to earn another victory (-220)
Gasly has just one win in 111 career F1 races
Gasly's highest finish this season is ninth. His teammate, Esteban Ocon, hasn't finished above eighth.
Gasly will start in 19th out of 20 positions in this race due to a crash in qualifying.
So, we're looking at a guy who essentially never wins besting an extreme favourite from the back of the pack despite driving a car that hasn't produced a single decent result all season. Not exactly a lock.