There is only one NHL game on the card tonight, as the Columbus Blue Jackets travel to Toronto for a meeting with the Maple Leafs. The sports world is taking a side seat to the college football National Championship in Atlanta tonight. We’ll get back to a full slate of action on Tuesday night. The Maple Leafs never take a side seat to anything in Toronto, so it’s just another night there. This is a rematch from December 20th which resulted in a 4-2 win for the Blue Jackets in Columbus.
The Jackets and Maple Leafs are nearly even in the standings, with the Blue Jackets at 24-16-0 and the Leafs at 25-16-1. Toronto is coming off two shootout wins over the Sharks and Canucks. They were heavy favourites against the Sharks and barely got by in that one. This will be their fourth in a row at home after spending five games on the road. The Leafs took two of five during that road trip.
The Jackets were fortunate to get a win in their last outing as well, a 3-2 shootout win over the Panthers. They’ve won just two of their last six games. The Blue Jackets were a surprise team of 2016-17, as they finished with a record of 50-24-9 and an appearance in the postseason. John Tortorella took over behind the bench the year prior after an abysmal start at the beginning of the 2015-16 campaign.
Tortorella quickly turned things around and brought the to a level of respectability. Now they’re a playoff team looking for more. However, while the Jackets are a playoff contender, the Maple Leafs want and need more than that. I can’t see them reaching the finals this season, but they are going to be serious threats to do it within the next few years. As their youth continues to develop and get better, the Maple Leafs are going to be a tough out. I’m not going to rule it out this season, but I think they need a bit more time to mature. Head below for our free Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs pick below.
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Toronto Maple Leafs Pick
The Leafs’ defence has settled down considerable, and if they want to get to the Stanley Cup Final, the defence will have to play a pivotal role. They were getting bashed around pretty good over the first couple of months. But Mike Babcock has been pulling some strings, and Frederik Andersen has been standing tall in net. He still has some room to improve his numbers, a 2.64 GAA, but Andersen and the defence were having a difficult time containing teams. There is no doubt room for improvement. They’ve allowed 3 goals per game in their last ten games. That isn’t good, but they’ve surrendered 2 goals per game in their last three games. The offence has carried them this season, and is 7th in the NHL with 3.19 goals per game. The Blue Jackets have allowed 3.1 goals per in their last ten games.
Sergei Bobrovsky enters Monday with a GAA of 2.41 and 0.921 save percentage. He got off to a hot start to the year, but his numbers have slipped some. The Blue Jackets are running on no rest coming into Toronto, as they were hosting the Panthers yesterday in Columbus. The OVER has been a profitable bet in matchups featuring the Jackets and Leafs. They’ve averaged 6.2 goals per game in their last five games, and the OVER has gone 4-1. Additionally, the OVER is 7-3 in their last ten meetings. A play on the OVER between the Blue Jackets and Maple Leafs looks like a good option.
PICK: OVER 5.5 (-110)