With the NHL set on a playoff format after the season being delayed for months, we may finally see hockey again this summer. That said, an immediate disclaimer to this whole article and the ones to follow is there is still a chance the NHL will not return until next season. Even so, I am looking forward to the possibility of playoffs in the summer.
A couple of things you will want to note.
If you have not yet heard, if the NHL does return, it will be a 24 team tournament. It is conference based rather than division based like in the past. So the 4 teams with the best record in each conference will be getting a bye for the qualifying round. In this case for the Eastern Conference, those teams are the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers.
That and round 1 of the playoffs is actually a qualifying round for the tournament. It will be a best of 5 series instead of a typical best of seven.
Now let’s take a look at some of the CBJ vs TOR matchup.
When it comes to comparing these two teams’ ability to score goals there is no question the Leafs clearly hold supremacy. The Maple Leafs are a powerhouse when it comes to their offense and they are statistically 3rd best in the league at scoring overall with goals per game average of 3.39. This squad knows how to score a goal, that’s for sure. In contrast, CBJ’s offense has been lacking this season. They are near the bottom of the pile concerning this year’s scoring. From the starting point, when it comes to offense the Maple Leafs have the advantage.
Basically, take everything I just said and flip it on its head and you have the defensive matchup. Columbus has one of the premier defenses in the league and as a result, it is much harder for a team to score on the Jackets. On the other end of the ice, the Maple Leafs are lacking in the area of defense. So here is a great offense in the Maple Leafs vs the great defense of the Blue Jackets.
It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to find out that TOR has a better power play whereas CBJ has a better penalty kill. So you will see another set of opposites colliding. Two opposing systems continue to show here. TOR has an advantage here at least from a statistical standpoint with 5 on 4 special teams as they are the 6th best power play facing the 12th best penalty kill. On a similar note, Statistically Columbus’s power play is 27th and they are facing the 21st penalty kill in the Leafs.
This is really how I make my predictions, at least some of the time, maybe even all the time. In the end, my gut says Columbus. Whether you think I am crazy, think gut instinct is the only way to go or fall somewhere in between this is what my gut says and at least part of and maybe even full-on why I am making the following prediction.
My prediction for this matchup of the qualifying round is CBJ over TOR in 5 games. I like the Blue Jackets for this matchup.