Another crucial Game 3 will go down Thursday evening from Toronto, as the Maple Leafs now become the ‘road’ team in their series against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
If Game 1 was a nightmare scenario for the talented Leafs, their play in Game 2 had to be the ideal type of response. They showed they were more skilled and faster than Columbus and likely turned in their most complete game of the season. Their 5v5 play was elite, doubling the Jackets in shots generated and expected goals.
Unfortunately though it wasn’t all great news for the Buds, as late in that game reliable defenseman Jake Muzzin was lost to injury. It was very scary-looking as the big blueliner fell awkwardly and needed to be stretchered away. By all accounts, Muzzin will be fine – though he is lost for the duration of this series, significantly hurting the Leafs’ chances.
For Columbus, as good as Toronto played – they didn’t show anything in Game 2. Head coach John Tortorella repeatedly said after the game ‘we sucked’ in reference to his team’s outing. This is a proud group that has won in the post-season before. They know what it takes to respond, and count on a bounceback outing from the Jackets on Thursday.
With Game 3 being a crucial swing game, expect a high-intensity outing and a match in which both coaches aren’t afraid to lean on their stars. For our match preview, betting analysis, and suggested wager – keep reading on beneath the posted odds below. Can Toronto finally exorcise some playoff demons? We’ll have to see!
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Columbus Blue Jackets Betting Odds:
Toronto Maple Leafs(-150)
Columbus Blue Jackets (+130)
Over 5.5 (+125)
Under 5.5 (-138)
*Betting odds provided by BetOnline.ag
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Columbus Blue Jackets Pick:
Well, the Leafs showed in Game 2 that they were capable of playing to their potential. Now the issue becomes, can they repeat that two more times?
It remains to be seen what Leafs squad will show up Thursday. It’s been a theme of this group for years to turn in inconsistent performances, and their task of beating the Jackets just got a whole lot harder without key defenseman Jake Muzzin.
The Leafs went just 6-5-4 without Jake Muzzin this season, which isn’t great for a team this talented. Oddly though the line values haven’t been altered to seemingly account for his absence from the bookmakers. The Leafs closed Game 2 as -150 favourites, and enter Game 3 at the same exact price. Without Muzzin, the Leafs are too steep on the moneyline. Even when you factor in the fact that Toronto now no longer possesses the pivotal ‘last change’ that too should diminish their odds.
It seems as if the books are overreacting to one bad outing from the Jackets. With last change, their whole mindset should change and they can and will be more aggressive in Game 3. Expect them to really get on the forecheck and pressure a weakened Toronto defense into mistakes and turnovers. Martin Marincin is coming into the lineup for Toronto, and his last playoff game was in 2017.
Columbus can also ensure they have both Pierre-Luc Dubois’ line out against Auston Matthews, as well as Seth Jones. Leafs’ coach Sheldon Keefe did well in Game 2 to get his star talents away from the pressure of the Jackets’ top guns – but in Game 3, there will be nowhere to hide.
It makes no sense to back Toronto at this lofty price, as their defensive play should significantly weaken without Muzzin in the lineup. With them also losing the ability to win the matchup game, expect the Jackets to push more of the pace and play like the team we saw back in Game 1. Getting +130 on Columbus in Game 3 is great value, and it’s too good to pass up on.
Pick: Columbus 3-2