Upsets were common during the first two days of the 2020 NHL playoffs as favorites like Pittsburgh and Edmonton fell behind 1-0 in their series. While short series haven’t been part of the playoffs since 1986, teams that won Game 1 own a 68-15 record during the last 83 best-of-five series. Penalties were frequent in several of the opening games – including two penalty shots during the Montreal versus Pittsburgh contest. That hasn’t happened in a NHL postseason match since 1923.
There were a couple of key injuries during the first two days of action as Winnipeg Jets forwards Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine both left Game 1 of their series versus the Calgary Flames. On a good news front – the NHL bubble protocol has held up well. To date, there haven’t been any reports of positive COVID-19 test results in the Toronto or Edmonton hub cities. Let’s hope it stays that way moving forward. Here are my best bets for the games on Tuesday.
Qualifying Series Best Bets: Tuesday, August 4, 2020
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Toronto Maple Leafs Game 2 Odds
Defense outdueled offense and Columbus posted a 2-0 victory over Toronto during Game 1 of their Eastern Conference qualifying series. Goaltender Joonas Korpisalo stopped 28 shots to record a shutout during his first career playoff start. Cam Atkinson scored early in the third period and Alexander Wennberg potted an empty net goal for the Blue Jackets. Frederik Anderson (33 saves) played well in goal but didn’t get any support from the Toronto offense.
Home ice advantage didn’t help the Maple Leafs who will try to even the series during Game 2. Puck drop is scheduled for 4:00 PM ET on August 4. Toronto scored 238 goals during the regular season, which was the third most in the league, but Columbus played a heavy style game and out hit the Leafs by a 37-26 count in Game 1. That has been the Blue Jackets primary strength all season and I expect a similar performance here. Bet the UNDER on the Game 2 goal total.
Game 2 Pick: UNDER 5.5 Goals (-105)
Minnesota Wild vs. Vancouver Canucks Game 2 Odds
Closing out the first two days of 2020 NHL playoff action, Minnesota blanked Vancouver 3-0 to take Game 1 of their Western Conference qualifying series. Kevin Fiala scored a power play goal early, 2:50 into the first period, and that proved to be the game winner. Jared Spurgeon scored the other two goals for the Wild and Eric Staal had two assists. Alex Stalock was sharp in goal for Minnesota as he made 28 saves to record his first career postseason victory.
Vancouver was their own worst enemy as the Canucks committed eight penalties compared to just four by Minnesota. Game 2 is scheduled for 10:45 PM ET on Tuesday, August 4, at Rogers Place arena in Edmonton. After Vancouver was listed as Game 1 chalk, FanDuel bookmakers have reversed the roles and has Minnesota as the favorite in this contest. While depth on defense was a big part of the Minnesota victory – I am betting Vancouver bouncing back in Game 2.
Game 2 Pick: Vancouver Canucks (+115)