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Toronto looked like a down and out bunch skating off the ice at their home rink after a game one shutout loss. They threw everything at the Jackets and still couldn’t find a way to put a puck past Joonas Korpisalo. In game two, though, the Finnish netminder finally showed some cracks.
The Leafs broke through after almost five periods of goalless hockey to save their playoff lives and even the series. They’ll need to continue their ferocious attack on Thursday and keep Columbus on their heels.
Toronto Maple Leafs -159
The betting favorite in this series has won five times through their last seven meetings. The Under has also hit in three of their last six.
|Toronto Maple Leafs vs Columbus Blue Jackets Information|
|What||Toronto vs Columbus|
|Where||Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON|
|When||August 6, 2020 8:00 PM EST|
|How to Watch||NBC Sports, Sportsnet|
The NHL has done an incredible job of bringing hockey back to fans everywhere after a five-month layoff due to the global pandemic. Very careful player testing is being conducted daily. Each team’s bubble and hub is fully in-tact and the league has also installed steep penalties for players and teams that violate the new quarantine rules.
The NHL chose Edmonton and Toronto as their two hubs, but without the fans can we really look at this as a home-ice advantage for the Leafs? The answer, absolutely. Toronto played like a team possessed in game two and will need to stay hungry to try and force Columbus to the brink on Thursday.
After posting just 28 shots to the Blue Jackets’ 35 in game one, the answer quickly became clear. Shots. Shots. Shots. Take them from wherever. Take them wherever and just put them on the net. The Leafs did just that on Tuesday and got some fortuitous bounces to go their way. That’s how they’re going to continue their success and win this series.
As we saw in the opener and again at times on Tuesday, the Leafs did leave themselves vulnerable on a few occasions. They worked the puck in deep and pinched a little overly so leaving their back end in big trouble. Against a number of other teams, it may not be an issue, but against the Jackets with high flying guys like Cam Atkinson, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Gustav Nyquist, and even Eric Robinson (a little surprising, right?) leading the way, Toronto needs to be careful.
To add to that point as well, it’s likely the Leafs will be without one of their best defenseman as well in Jake Muzzin who left Tuesday night’s game on a stretcher after suffering a head injury. With a weakened backside the Leafs will need err on the side of caution, but they can’t let their depth chart dictate their play. They need to stay hungry to jump ahead in this series.
Relying on their big-name players to get the job done isn’t going to win Columbus anything. They had a rough season because they lacked secondary scoring. They had a rough end to that season especially finishing 3-4-3 in their final 10 due to the same issue and they may lose this qualifying round series if they can’t fix it quickly.
They need to get bodies to the net to create some havoc but more importantly some opportunities. Watching Pierre-Luc Dubois skate is a beautiful thing. It’s enough to make some people stop and stare. Sadly, it seems to have that effect on his own team at times too. The Jackets need to stop staring and start supporting as soon as humanly possible.
If the Jackets can’t find a way to get their third and fourth line pounding away and creating chances, it could be a long plane ride back to Ohio in just a few days.
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Ryan has worked as a sports writer for the past decade and sports journalism for almost 15 years. He has worked in television, radio, print, digital, and podcasting since 2006. He is also the former co-host of the NFL Weekly Pick 'Em and Best Bets Podcast along with the Prop Drop on WSN.com.More info on Ryan Sullivan
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