NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Leafs vs Blue Jackets (February 10)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Leafs vs Blue Jackets (February 10) article feature image

Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: William Nylander of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets Odds

Maple Leafs Odds-255
Blue Jackets Odds+205
Over/Under6.5 (-115/-105)
Time7:00 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets will end respective nine and 10 day layoffs as they meet for the first time this season Friday at Nationwide Arena.

The Leafs will look to get back on track in game 53 of one of the most pressure packed seasons in history, and they are priced as a massive -250 favorite over a Columbus team simply focused on developing its young core rather than winning or losing.

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Will There Be Signs of Rust For Toronto?

Coach Sheldon Keefe's Leafs team plays a possession-driven style of hockey, which at its best can be a tremendous way of preventing opposition scoring chances by spending a wealth of time playing on the front foot at the other end.

When Toronto's timing is off and the team is out of sync, its playing style can quickly become a liability and lead to plays which look lackadaisical simply from players not thinking on the same wavelength. As such, it will be interesting to see if there are signs of rust early on in this matchup.

Toronto was dismantled 5-2 by the Bruins last time out, which moved its record to 1-2-0 since Auston Matthews' addition to the IR.

That's a tiny sample size, and Toronto has fared well without Matthews the last two seasons, but his absence does downgrade the Leaf's defensive capabilities significantly, as he is a matchup nightmare down the middle for other teams' top units.

Ilya Samsonov has been confirmed as Toronto's starter for this matchup. Samsonov owns a +9.5 GSAx and .913 save % in 25 games played.

A Mixed Bag for the Blue Jackets

Columbus has allowed the league's fourth-most goals against this season at 3.86 per game and has allowed 3.83 per game over the last month of action (12 games).

The underlying numbers suggest that the Blue Jackets are actually playing a more sound defensive game recently, as they have played to a 12th best xGA/60 of 3.42 in those 12 games.

That mark suggests they should see vast improvement in goals against totals in particular, especially on the nights when Joonas Korpisalo starts, as he has been drastically better than Elvis Merzlikins.

To step back and look at a broader scope, however, it's hard to say if Columbus' recently improved defensive play will hold over a larger sample with the personnel on hand.

It's roughly the same Blue Jackets roster and blue-line which has allowed a plethora of goals against for two straight seasons, and none of the current changes should improve those flaws big picture.

On the other end of the ice, Columbus' top line of Johnny Gaudreau, Patrik Laine and Boone Jenner should get some strong matchups tonight with Auston Matthews out. While CB1 is not a dominant defensive line, it should be capable of generating offense like a true top forward unit the rest of the way.

The same goes for Columbus' second unit of Kent Johnson, Cole Sillinger, and Kirill Marchenko, which features an average of 20.3 and has some offensive upside but is definitely gettable at the other end.

Columbus has confirmed top starter Joonas Korpisalo for this matchup. Korpisalo owns a +3.1 GSAx and .906 save % throughout 23 appearances.

Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets Pick

Over the last month of action, Blue Jackets games have gone 8-4 to the over, and I believe that with each side coming off a lengthy layoff, this could be a good time to target that trend.

Columbus has displayed some of the league's worst defensive play all season long, and I am having a hard time putting much weight toward its recent improvement. My expectation is Toronto will still generate a ton of quality looks tonight and should manage four or more goals.

Toronto's defensive play has not been as rock-solid of late, and Columbus does hold some offensive talents trending in the right direction. Seeing Columbus surprise and hang up some offense in this spot seems logical, and I like the chances that this game opens up.

There is enough arguments as to why this game should get past a total of 6.5 that I like a bet on the total to go over 6.5, and would play it down to -120.

Pick: Over 6.5 Goals in Leafs-Blue Jackets

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