Columbus Blue Jackets vs Toronto Maple Leafs Prediction (3/3/14)
The Columbus Blue Jackets didn’t get off to the type of start they were looking for coming out of the Olympic break but they made up for it with their performance on Saturday afternoon. Columbus had to fight off a pesky Florida Panthers club but they did so with a strong third period in a 6-3 victory.
R.J. Umberger and Cam Atkinson scored first period goals to give the Blue Jackets a 2-0 lead but the Panthers would rally to tie it in the second period. David Savard made it 3-2 Jackets before the Panthers would answer right back once again. With just 10 seconds remaining in the period it was Artem Anisimov who continued his strong season with a shorthanded goal that gave Columbus the lead for good. Nick Foligno and Matt Calvert scored late third period goals to finish the scoring for a Columbus squad that finds themselves just a few points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
With how tight the Metropolitan Division is every game down the stretch is extremely important and the Blue Jackets can’t afford a let down anywhere along the way. Sergei Bobrovsky only had to make 17 saves to pick up the victory in this one but he’s going to have to do a lot more the rest of the way to get this club into the playoffs.
Bobrovsky will be tested by Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk and the rest of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night at the Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs occupy the first wild card spot currently but they’re looking to move up the standings in the Atlantic Division and avoid a brutal first round match up with either the Bruins or the Penguins.
Toronto rallied from a two goal deficit on Saturday night in Montreal, but after coming all the way back they weren’t able to hold the lead and eventually fell in overtime by a final of 4-3. Van Riemsdyk’s 25th of the season got Toronto on the board and he added another goal to tie things in the second period before Kessel gave the Maple Leafs the lead with his 33rd of the year. The Canadiens would even things just over three minutes later and would score the game winner on the power play. Toronto did get a shorthanded goal in this one from van Riemsdyk but the penalty kill allowing two goals was the big difference in this one.
If there’s going to be another late season collapse from this club it’s going to be because their goaltending just isn’t consistent enough this year. Jonathan Bernier has had some incredible games this season but there has to be a level of consistency in net for Toronto to get to where they want to be.
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The Leafs have a difficult week ahead and with games against the Rangers, Flyers, Ducks, Sharks, and Kings on the horizon there really isn’t much margin for error. As for the Blue Jackets, after tonight, they will face Western teams in their next four games. In my opinion the pressure is off Columbus due to their schedule ahead and all the pressure is on Toronto facing Eastern Conference teams where every point will matter. Not saying the points won’t matter for Columbus but they can afford to lose to the West and at the same time not give points to the Eastern Conference if they lose….like the Leafs will do tonight.
Take the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight as they are valued at +100 road underdogs.
Columbus Blue Jackets +100 to win $100
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