NHL Odds and Picks (Tuesday, August 4): Betting Predictions for Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs Game 2


Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Auston Matthews

Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs Odds

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Blue Jackets Odds +145 [BET NOW]
Maple Leafs Odds -170 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 5.5 [BET NOW]
Time Tuesday, 4 p.m. ET

Odds as of 2 p.m. ET and via FanDuel. Get up to a $500 risk-free bet at FanDuel today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

(Below was originally published with Monday night’s odds: -160/+135)

I am of the opinion that good defensive teams are underrated by the betting market. Part of that is because it’s harder to quantify good defense in the NHL but it’s also because bettors generally like backing exciting teams, not dull ones.

We saw the type of value a stingy team can provide to bettors on Sunday night as the Columbus Blue Jackets leaned on their structure to frustrate the ultra-talented Toronto Maple Leafs to win as +140 underdogs.

Plenty of wins over the course of an NHL season come down to luck, good goaltending or a combination but this was not one of those instances. According to MoneyPuck.com, the Jackets generated more expected goals at 5-on-5 (2.07 to 1.58) and overall (2.75 to 1.9) than Toronto.

It was a defensive clinic, the type of game John Tortorella would love to read a good book to and kiss on the head before he goes to bed at night.

As soon as this matchup was made official I knew the Jackets would be offered at good prices throughout the playoffs. Not only was Columbus underrated on a nightly basis, but the opposite was true of the Maple Leafs. Toronto has more talent than just about any other team in the league, but the Leafs could never put everything together and they showed flaws throughout the regular season, most specifically on defense.

Toronto is good enough to outscore its defensive mistakes in plenty of matchups but that task becomes a lot tougher against a team like Columbus, which doesn’t give up anything in its own zone.

That’s why it’s Toronto’s defense, not Columbus’ that is the great equalizer in this series. Columbus is relentless on the forecheck and the Jackets make their cookies by getting the puck deep and forcing opposing defenses into mistakes.

Luckily for the Jackets, the Leafs are a mistake-prone team and their high-risk, high-reward style can bite them if they can’t generate enough offense to blow the doors off a team.

Toronto is still the better team and more likely to win Game 2, but once again I’d think twice before backing the Leafs in this matchup. It’s a stylistic nightmare for the Buds.

After closing between +135 and +140 for Game 1, the Jackets have caught a little bit of respect in the early betting for Game 2. Columbus is listed between +125 (bet365, PointsBet) and +135 (FanDuel) for Tuesday’s matinee. I do think that most bettors will back Toronto to even up the series, so I’m going to wait out the market and see where the Jackets line ends up before getting involved.

The Pick

Even if the line doesn’t nudge up closer to +140 I’m going to back Columbus in this game and would say there’s value on the Jackets at +130 or better.

[Bet now at FanDuel. NJ, PA, CO, IN and WV only.]

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