Maple Leafs and Blue Jackets clash in a best-of-five series
The Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets will face-off for a best-of-five, playoff qualification round. The series will undoubtedly be hard-fought, as both teams play very different styles. The Maple Leafs play a high-flying offensive game, while the Blue Jackets stick with a stingy defense.
Toronto (36-25-9) and Columbus (33-22-15) each finished the 2019-20 regular season both with 81 points. The teams were limited to just two match-ups this past season. The Leafs won the first match 4-1, the Blue Jackets took game two 4-3 in overtime.
Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets Match-up
Columbus appears to play a strong defensive game. They own a solid penalty killing group and play opponents hard. Their top defender Seth Jones will be healthy and eager to come back strong. Likewise, other key players Cam Atkinson and Oliver Bjorkstrand have returned from injury. Just like last year’s playoff, underdog Blue Jackets know they can upset a top team. When facing Toronto, their strong defense must take priority. (Advantage: Columbus)
The Maple Leafs display a strong offense, with one of the league’s best top-six forward groups. Four Leaf players scored at least 59 points this season. The highest-scoring Blue Jacket scored only 49. Like Columbus, the Leafs have been battling injuries, Ilya Mikheyev, Morgan Reilly, and Jake Muzzin are all ready for action. A fully equipped Leaf team will attack you with skill, speed, and tenacity. An overpowering offense will be tough to contain. (Advantage: Toronto)
Columbus’s goaltenders Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins each come off breakout seasons, but neither have any NHL playoff experience. It may be a key for the Leafs, Frederick Andersen will have had plenty of rest. Toronto’s goalies will not be perfect, but coming back from an unforeseen pause may not be in the best interest of Columbus’ young goalies. (Advantage: Toronto)
There is no clear cut favorite. When the Maple Leafs and Blue Jackets faceoff, players could come back strong. Yet, some players may struggle to find their game. This match-up is unpredictable, so many things could happen. On paper, Toronto is the better team, but Columbus can put up a fight. Toronto is not a lock to win. However, Toronto’s game-changing talent allows them to dominate. If Toronto can play consistent defense and limit goals against, they should take this series. It will be a battle, and Columbus could push the Leafs to their limits.