Blue Jackets Await Maple Leafs
Some matchups just appear to be more competitive than the NHL’s Vegas odds tend to indicate, and the Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets is one of them. The Blue Jackets have covered the puckline in five straight games against Toronto and have won three of their last five meetings. As sizable underdogs yet again, the value is on Columbus.
Maple Leafs vs Blue Jackets Game Information
- Game: Toronto Maple Leafs (35-16-4) at Columbus Blue Jackets (28-25-3)
- Location: Nationwide Arena
- Day/Time: Monday, 7:35 p.m. ET
- Television: ESPN+
Maple Leafs’ Defensive Woes Continue
The Toronto Maple Leafs were on full display — both their good and their bad — in their loss to the Vancouver Canucks. On the plus side, the Maple Leafs scored four goals and outshot their opponents. On the downside, they allowed three third-period goals (one empty net) and lost their second straight game.
We can’t pin this all on goaltender Jack Campbell, although it was apparent that he was not helping Toronto’s defensive issues. Campbell continues to struggle for Toronto as he recorded a fourth straight start with a save percentage (SV%) below 90. The 30-year-old is 5-4-1 in his last 12 starts with an 86.5 SV%.
In this span, Toronto was last in the NHL in save percentage and 28th in PDO on 5v5. The Leafs do have the third-best power play in this stretch and are also outshooting opponents by nearly six a game, so the sky isn’t falling. But, it’s tough to bet online on a team that is giving up nearly four goals a game.
Blue Jackets Going Cold?
Having lost four of their last five overall, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ recent hot streak seems to be over. The Blue Jackets’ pushover defense isn’t doing them any favors, although they are still scoring goals like nobody’s business.
Despite appearing to have slowed down, Patrik Laine is still red hot. The former second overall pick has five points in his last three games and has five multi-point games in his last nine. Columbus has gone 5-2-2 in this stretch and is 11-1-1 when he has more than a point.
PATRIK LAINE PLAYS HOUDINI. MAKES IT DISAPPEAR! pic.twitter.com/hgvJc4mrQT
— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) March 2, 2022
Unlike teams like Toronto, the Blue Jackets can get game-stealing goaltending. Jean-Francois Berube is riding that “new goalie” glow with a 92.4 SV% and a 3-1-0 record while Elvis Merzlikins has stood on his head. The team has a shaky foundation but as a frequent underdog on the sportsbook’s NHL odds, Columbus can be profitable.
Maple Leafs vs Blue Jackets Head-to-Head
The Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets have both won five games apiece in their last 10 meetings. The Blue Jackets have won two of their last three home games against Toronto. The total has gone over or pushed on four of their last five meetings.
Maple Leafs vs Blue Jackets Prediction
On paper, this is the right type of opponent for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Blue Jackets are giving up the most scoring chances and are getting outshot in almost every game. Toronto will dominate this and generate so many chances, so even if Merzlikins or Berube turn into Dominik Hasek, they are bound to let in goals.
However, the Leafs’ suspect goaltending cannot be trusted on the NHL lines so our money is on the underdogs here. This could be a game where Toronto outshoots Columbus by nearly double and still loses. Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice? Shame on us.