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Leafs Look to Open Series With Win Over Blue Jackets

John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates with the puck against the Montreal Canadiens during the third period of the exhibition game prior to the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It might not be reflected in the roar of the crowd, but the Toronto Maple Leafs have a significant home-ice advantage as they kick off their postseason elimination series Sunday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The teams finished the regular season with an identical 81 points, but the Leafs will enjoy an edge with this entire best-of-five series taking place in Toronto.

Columbus Blue Jackets vs Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Date/Time: August 2, 8 p.m. ET
  • Stadium: Scotiabank Arena
  • TV Coverage: FS-O, RSN, NHLN
  • Opening Odds: Maple Leafs -150 | O/U 6 (Line History)
  • Blue Jackets vs Maple Leafs Matchup Report

Opening Odds Analysis

The Maple Leafs opened the Game 1 betting picture as -150 favorites, and have remained there at the majority of sportsbooks. The total of 6 has also held steady at most spots.

Columbus Blue Jackets News & Notes

It's no secret how the Blue Jackets hope to upend the favored Maple Leafs and advance to the official Stanley Cup playoffs. Columbus will need to rely on a defense and goaltending unit that surrendered the second-fewest goals in the Eastern Conference during the regular season (187), masking a dismal offense that produced just 180 goals (second-last in the conference).

From a betting perspective, identifying a Columbus player worth taking a chance on in terms of player props could be tricky. Only three skaters finished with at least 40 points, led by Pierre-Luc Dubois with 49 – and just two players (Oliver Bjorkstrand, Zach Werenski) cracked the 20-goal plateau. We suggest betting on Bjorkstrand, who did his damage in just 46 games.

Toronto Maple Leafs News & Notes

The Leafs finished level on points with Columbus during the regular season, but the teams got to 81 points in vastly different ways. Toronto enjoyed quite the resurgence after parting ways with head coach Mike Babcock, going an impressive 27-15-5 under new bench boss Sheldon Keefe while averaging the most goals in the entire league (3.51) over that 47-game stretch.

Everyone knows that the Blue Jackets will need to key in on sensational center Auston Matthews, who erupted for 47 goals and 80 points in 70 regular-season contests. But they'll also need to keep an eye on forward William Nylander, who finished second on the team in goals (31) and is an intriguing player prop option who should offer a much nicer payout than Matthews.

Betting Pick: Maple Leafs -1.5

Comforts of home aside, Toronto has looked like a completely different team under the meticulous Keefe and should do enough offensively to win this one with ease.

Shark Bites
  • Columbus is 3-12 SU in its last 15 games.
  • Toronto is 3-9 SU in its last 12 home games vs. Columbus.
  • The total has gone UNDER in five of Toronto's last six home games.