The Columbus Blue Jackets (12-6-2) head north of the border tonight to take on Toronto Maple Leafs (14-6-0) in first of two games in five days between the two clubs. Puck drop is scheduled for shortly after 7:00 PM ET.
Although it’s usually tough to get too excited about a Monday night hockey game in the middle of November, this game between the Jackets and Leafs would certainly fit the bill. The CBJ, who’ve collected a point in each of their last seven games, going 5-0-2 during that stretch, sit atop the Metropolitan Division with 26 points. Not to be outdone, the Maple Leafs, although currently second place in the Atlantic Division, have 28 points this year and have gone 6-1-0 in their last seven games.
In addition to their early season records, success on the road is another thing these two teams have in common. While the Jackets are 7-2-1 away from home ice, the Leafs can claim an even more impressive 9-1-0 record on the road. Considering tonight’s game is in Toronto, the CBJ could have an edge in this one.
Yet another similarity between these two clubs is their ability to find the back of the net. This game features two of the top five scoring offenses in the National Hockey League, with the Maple Leafs ranked third and the Blue Jackets ranked fifth. Both teams average about 3.5 goals per game.
Toronto has been without Auston Matthews since the end of October, and the young center is not expected to be back for this contest tonight. Matthews was off to a torrid pace to start the season, scoring his 10th goal of the campaign over a month ago just six games in.
Luckily for the Leafs, center is a position of depth for the squad. Third year skater Mitch Marner and newcomer John Tavares both have tallied over 20 points through 20 games at that position this season.
The Jackets also have a pair of players that have topped the 20 point mark through as many games: Artemi Panarin and Cam Atkinson. Despite not finding the back of the net in his last nine games, Panarin has six assists in his last five games, and Atkinson, who’s coming off a hat trick on Saturday night against Carolina, has lit the lamp in four straight games and is off to the best offensive start of his career.
Although goaltenders figure to have their hands full in this game, CBJ fans have reason for optimism regardless of which netminder is between the pipes for the Blue Jackets. Sergei Bobrovsky, who’s given up one goal in five of his last six starts, totes a 9-3 record in his career versus Toronto. Joonas Korpisalo, who’s 5-0-2 this season, has won four of the six games he’s started against the Maple Leafs.
The Blue Jackets, who have a few days off in the middle of the week, will face the Leafs in two straight games. Toronto isn’t quite as fortunate, as they’ll squeeze in a trip to Carolina on Wednesday before heading to Columbus for their matchup on Friday. With the way these two teams have been trending lately, expect an entertaining and competitive affair tonight at Scotiabank Arena.