Toronto Maple Leafs: 4 storylines to follow versus Columbus Blue Jackets

Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Columbus Blue Jackets. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

2) The irresistible force versus the immovable object

One of the main pure delights for sports fans, is when respective strengths come up against each other. There will be one such instance, when the Leafs and Blue Jackets take to the ice for their play-in series.

Toronto were one of the best overall offensive units during the 2019-20 regular season. They scored 238 goals in total, good enough for third-most in the NHL.

This efficiency extended to having the sixth-best power play unit, at 23.1 percent. And they’ll create their chances regardless of the situation, by also ranking sixth with 32.9 shots per contest.

On the flip side, Columbus had one of the league’s top defences by allowing just 187 goals, which was tied for third-best in the league. They were seventh-stingiest when it came to allowing shots, but were only middle of the pack — literally, at 15th — on the penalty kill.

Based purely on the regular season meetings between the two sides, it will be tough for the Blue Jackets to keep the Leafs off the score-sheet. Toronto won the first game 4-1, while losing the second encounter 4-3 in overtime.

As good as the Leafs are at scoring, the Blue Jackets should get plenty of opportunities themselves. Toronto had one of the poorer defensive units during the regular season, allowing the fifth-most goals in the NHL.

While the Leafs are favoured to advance, these are two fairly evenly matched teams. Look no further than the fact they both finished the regular season with 81 points from 70 games. (Toronto finished higher due to a +11 goal difference, compared to -7 for Columbus.)

It’s going to be a fascinating series, particularly when the Leafs are on the attack against the Blue Jackets’ stingy defence. Ultimately though, we are predicting a lot of goals, which will make for a miserable time for the goaltenders.