NHL picks: Back Auston Matthews to light the lamp against Columbus
Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs have the opportunity to take the lead in their play-in round series with the stingy Columbus Blue Jackets.
Meanwhile, the Calgary Flames have the chance tonight to advance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, as they hold a 2-1 advantage in their best-of-five series with the depleted Winnipeg Jets.
Here are the NHL bets we like for tonight’s games.
Fri, August 7 2020, 12:00 AM
Columbus Blue Jackets
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs finally broke through against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 2 of their best-of-five series.
The Blue Jackets have a penchant for playing in low-scoring games – you may fancy the Under 5.5 total goals tonight – but the Maple Leafs were able to get through that Columbus defense and put a couple of goals behind goalie Joonas Korpisalo to even the series at 1-1. And it all started for Toronto with Auston Matthews.
Matthews had six shots on goal in Game 1, but was stymied by Korpisalo. One of the best scorers in the game today, with a career shooting percentage of almost 16%, Matthews wouldn’t be denied for long.
Matthews should be able to get some looks in Game 3 on Thursday too, and with his ability to score – 47 goals in 70 games – you can feel confident he can convert at least one chance into a goal.
Fri, August 7 2020, 2:30 AM
It took all of one period in these playoffs for the Winnipeg Jets to be dealt a difficult hand.
As if losing the series opener wasn’t bad enough, Jets forward Mark Scheifele was injured on a scary looking play during the first period of Game 1 against the Flames. Later in that same game, Patrik Laine was also injured, rendering the Jets without two of their top forwards.
Kudos to the Jets for fighting back to win Game 2 and even the series, but their injury situation caught up to them in Game 3, and now Calgary has the lead with a chance to close it out tonight.
The loss of those two players alone accounts for 57 regular season goals out of the lineup. Scheifele, their top center, logs almost 22 minutes a night, the most of any forward in Winnipeg’s lineup. That’s a massive loss up the middle.
As of Thursday morning, neither Laine or Scheifele had been ruled out for Game 4. If they’re actually able to play, that may change things to a certain degree, but how effective would both be coming off injury?
If neither of them is able to play, it's easy to imagine this game getting away from Winnipeg. The Jets may keep it close for a while, but the Flames should eventually pull through, as they did, with a little help from their red-hot power play, in Game 3.
It’s a riskier play in hockey, but there may be some value in taking Calgary at -1.5 on the puck line at odds of +156 at BetAmerica. Calgary winning this game by two or more goals is certainly a possibility.