Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#7 Columbus Blue Jackets 6 vs.
#8 Toronto Maple Leafs -150
Sunday, August 2, 2020 at 8:00pm EDT
Scotiabank Arena, Toronto
Written by Adam Rauzino

The Toronto Maple Leafs will take on the Columbus Blue Jackets in game one of the best of five qualifying round Sunday night from the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. The Leafs defeated Columbus by a 4-1 score in the first meeting and the Blue Jackets responded with a 4-3 overtime road win in the second clash. Both teams have earned 81 points on the season.

Blue Jackets Benefit from Break to Ice Healthy Roster

The Columbus Blue Jackets can be considered one of the teams to benefit the most from the August start date. They were ravaged with several key injuries as the original NHL season neared its conclusion but now feature almost a completely healthy roster.

Cam Atkinson, Seth Jones, and Zach Werekenski along with Alex Wennberg all missed significant time due to injury and are back in action. Atkinson netted a remarkable 41 goals in the 2018-2019 season and had 12 goals in 44 games before his ankle injury.

Columbus is led in points by Pierre-Luc Dubois with 49 points in 70 games. The 22-year old center scored one goal in two games against the Maple Leafs this season. The Blue Jackets fell in the second round of the 2019 playoffs after pulling off the huge upset sweep over the top-seeded Lightning in the first round.

The Blue Jackets goaltending has been sharp all season. Number one goalie Joonas Korpisalo is having a solid season and posted a 2.60 GAA and a 19-12-5 record. He was then injured and was replaced by Elvis Merzlikens. The rookie was spectacular, registering a 2.35 GAA and a 13-9-8 record. Columbus is averaging 2.6 goals per game, ranking them 27th overall. They are holding opponents to 2.6 goals, good for third in the NHL.

Maple Leafs Under Pressure to Finally Win Playoff Round

The Toronto Maple Leafs have not won a playoff series since the 2003-2004 season. They have been eliminated in the first round in three consecutive seasons and they are feeling the pressure to win a series. Toronto has lost two consecutive series’ to the Boston Bruins. The Leafs feature a ton of star power in their forward core highlighted by Auston Matthews. The 22-year old sniper has accumulated a remarkable 47 goals and 80 points in 70 games. He has fared well against the Blue Jackets, registering two goals and an assist in two meetings this season.

Mitch Marner has also shined against Columbus this season, posting two goals and two helpers and has 12 points in 11 career meetings. The crafty playmaker has 51 assists and 67 points on the year.

The Maple Leafs will have Frederik Andersen guard the cage. The veteran netminder was having an inconsistent season and holds a 2.85 GAA and a .909 save percentage accompanied by a 29-13-7 record. Toronto’s defense has been a glaring issue at times this season and often rely on their scoring to win games.

The Maple Leafs can fill the net and are averaging 3.4 goals, good for third in the NHL. They are allowing an average of 3.2 goals, placing them 26th overall.

Best Bets for this Game

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Full-Game Side Bet

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I expect the Maple Leafs to come away with a big win in game one. The Maple Leafs have more talent than the Blue Jackets and are also playing in their home city. Columbus only won 13 of their 34 road games this season. Toronto is under pressure to win a series and I believe they will finally deliver. The Leafs' powerhouse offense should be able to thrive.

Furthermore, the Blue Jackets are expected to have Joonas Korpisalo in net and this marks his first career playoff action, while Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen features an abundance of playoff experience and owns a 25-20 career playoff record.

Prediction: Toronto Maple Leafs

Full-Game Total Pick

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I recommend a play on the over. Toronto was able to net seven goals in two games against the Blue Jackets this season and overall the over has been a profitable bet due to the Leafs’ scoring depth. Toronto is third in the NHL in goals per game and they also feature a dangerous power play. The over is a convincing 15-3 in the Maple Leafs’ last 18 games against the Metro division.

In addition, Toronto is below average defensively and Columbus is a team that forechecks hard and cycles the puck down low, so I expect them to wear down the Leafs’ defense and find the back of the net a few times. The over is 4-0 in the Blue Jackets’ last four games against the Eastern Conference.

Prediction: Over

Full-Game Prop Bet

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The over on the Maple Leafs team total is an attractive prop. Toronto is one of the most offensively gifted teams in the NHL and they scored at least three goals in each game against Columbus this season. Also, several Leafs have shined against Columbus in their careers. Marner has 12 points in 11 games, while Tavares has 33 points in 27 games. Lastly, Matthews has three points in two games against the Blue Jackets this season.

Prediction: Maple Leafs Team Total Over

Half-Time Prop Prediction

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I am selecting Auston Matthews to score a goal. Matthews scored two goals in two games against Columbus this season and he also accumulated 32 goals in the Maple Leafs 34 home games this season. Moreover, the 22-year old recorded five goals in seven games in last year’s playoffs.

Prediction: Auston Matthews to Score a Goal

Written By Adam Rauzino

Adam has been a sports fanatic his entire life, closely following hockey, baseball, basketball and football. Adam enjoys analyzing various stats, as well as studying Sabermetrics and analytics to take his picks to a whole new level. Adam has a passion for writing about various sports as well as personal finance and has brought his talents to us here at Winners and Whiners. He graduated with a diploma in business marketing and business finance.