bet365 NHL Odds, Preview: Maple Leafs Vs. Blue Jackets (Dec. 29)

This has been a wild and crazy 2023 for the Toronto Maple Leafs – one that came with the usual highs and lows, but also big changes and a playoff series win – and over the next two days, they hope to conclude it with two wins. In the first game of a back-to-back, the blue and white look to shake off a tough Wednesday loss and once again use the Columbus Blue Jackets as a springboard to good momentum. Columbus, on the other hand, will be hoping to reverse the result Toronto handed them the previous Saturday. Let’s take a look at some of the key storylines and betting lines going into this matchup before the puck drops on Friday night.

Bet on Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets

TOR -200
CBJ +165

The Maple Leafs are strong road favourites for this one, coming in at -200 on the moneyline at bet365.

Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets odds

Maple Leafs Moneyline Odds-200
Blue Jackets Moneyline Odds+165
Puck Line oddsMaple Leafs -1.5 (+110), Blue Jackets +1.5 (-130)
Total Goals line7 goals (over +100, under -120)
Time/DateDec. 29, 7:00 p.m. ET
TVBroadcast: Sportsnet Ontario
Stream: Sportsnet+
(How to watch the NHL in Canada?)

All odds courtesy of

About the Maple Leafs (17-9-6 SU, 9-23 ATS, 18-13 o/u)

Once again, Toronto comes to the Blue Jackets needing a shoulder to take out their frustrations on after prior defeat. Last week, the Leafs needed to respond to a 9-3 thumping from the Buffalo Sabres. Tonight, it’s less dire, but there is still frustration afoot after a 4-2 loss to the Senators on Wednesday. This was the case of Toronto letting a game slip away from them, as they had a 2-0 lead just six minutes into the first period. Auston Matthews bounced a puck off of Matthew Knies’ skate to open the scoring, and Tyler Bertuzzi followed things up with his sixth of the year just 23 seconds later.

But after that… nothing. The Senators began to chip away at the lead midway through the second, through a Parker Kelly shorthanded marker and equalized four minutes later via Drake Batherson’s 12th goal of the season. In the third, Batherson struck again, and Brady Tkachuk put a bow on the Senators’ comeback with an empty-netter.

It’s not the worst loss in the world. Heck, it’s not even the worst loss in the league that night (looking at you, Colorado). Much of the result came from bad bounces and missed opportunities. But the best way to prove that a bad-break game is behind you is to step up the next time around, so that will be the expectation for the Leafs tonight.

About the Blue Jackets (11-18-7 SU, 22-14 ATS, 20-15-1 o/u)

There wasn’t much new to report about the Blue Jackets the last time they faced the Maple Leafs, as there were only three games in between. Now? Even less so, as they’ve played just one game since.

In that game, Columbus fell 4-3 to the New Jersey Devils in overtime. Columbus had the lead in this one on three separate occasions, going up 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2 – with the third occurring in the final three minutes of the game – but were responded to every single time, including by a filthy Luke Hughes end-to-end-goal to force overtime. In the bonus frame, Timo Meier gave the Devils their only lead of the night and the only one they’d need.

Elvis Merzlikins started for the Jackets and stopped 31 of 35 shots. Jake Bean, Yegor Chinakhov, and Justin Danforth scored Columbus’ goals.

Last Matchup

It’s been just a few days and one game apiece since these two’s last matchup, an easy 4-1 win for the Maple Leafs. Matthews opened the scoring and while Danforth responded early in the second period, Toronto bounced back with John Tavares’ 10th of the season and Matthews’ second of the night, and William Nylander added insurance in the third to carry Toronto home.

Projected Lineups

Toronto Maple LeafsColumbus Blue Jackets
Matthew Knies – Auston Matthews – Mitch Marner
Tyler Bertuzzi – John Tavares – William Nylander
Nicholas Robertson – Max Domi – Calle Jarnkrok
Bobby McMann – David Kampf – Noah Gregor

Morgan Rielly – TJ Brodie
Jake McCabe – Timothy Liljegren
Simon Benoit – William Lagesson

Starting In Goal
Ilya Samsonov
5-2-5, 3.79 GAA, 0.871 SV%
Johnny Gaudreau – Adam Fantilli – Justin Danforth
Yegor Chinkahov – Dmitri Voronkov – Kirill Marchenko
Kent Johnson – Cole Sillinger – Emil Bemstrom
Alexandre Texier – Brendan Gaunce – Mathieu Oliver

Demon Severson – David Jiricek
Ivan Provorov – Andrew Peeke
Jake Bean – Erik Gudbranson

Starting In Goal
Elvis Merzlikins
7-8-6, 3.20 GAA, 0.907 SV%

All eyes will be on Ilya Samsonov tonight, as he desperately needs a big game to mitigate the concerns about him. Admittedly, even I’m starting to get a little worried, as a save percentage fit for the 1970s at this stage of the season is far from ideal. The 26-year-old has suggested that it’s a “between the ears” issue rather than a technique issue, and if it’s a matter of confidence, it’s hard not to feel a little bad. But at the same time, Toronto eventually needs a solution that keeps the puck out of the net. If it’s another bad one for him tonight, it won’t bode well for his future in blue and white.

Beyond that, these lineups are largely the same as they were on Saturday. There is some initial talk that we could see Mark Giordano return from his finger injury – we’ll update if that ends up being the case.

Auston Matthews to score a goal


Key Injuries

As mentioned above, we could see Giordano return from his broken finger tonight. If not, I’d consider it pretty likely against Carolina. Other than that, I’d expect no change from the Leafs’ IR list.

Columbus is even more battered than they were last week. On top of Boqvist (shoulder), Jenner (jaw), and Laine (clavicle) who are carries-over from a week ago, Sean Kuraly suffered an abdominal injury against the Leafs last Saturday and will likely remain out tonight, Zach Werenski is week-to-week with a lower-body injury suffered against New Jersey, and Nick Blankenberg also suffered an injury – upper-body in this case – against the Devils. On the positive side, there’s a chance that Jack Roslovic returns from his fractured ankle suffered back in November, though it hasn’t been confirmed yet.

  • The Leafs are 6-4 against Columbus in their last 10 games, though the Blue Jackets are 7-3 on the puckline. The over has been hit in five of those games, with four unders and a push.
  • Toronto are 5-5 in their last 10 games against all opponents, 4-6 on the puckline, and have hit the over in seven of those games.
  • Columbus are 3-7 in their last 10 games against all opponents, 6-4 on the puckline, and have hit the over in seven of those games.
  • Chinakhov leads the Blue Jackets in scoring over the last 10 games, picking up seven goals and four assists. He also has the most shots of anyone in the group, at 26.
  • Columbus are generally not a volume-shooting team. Beyond Chinakhov, only Kirill Marchenko (23) and Adam Fantilli (21) have 20+ shots in their last 10. By comparison, the Maple Leafs have three forwards (Matthews, Tavares, Nylander) who typically clear 40+ shots in the same span.
  • Matthews and Nylander remain the Leafs’ hottest producers, each with 17 points (Matthews 12G, 5A, Nylander 4G,13A) in their last 10. Tavares leads the team with 45 shots in goal in that stretch, including 27 in his last five.

Wagers To Consider

  • There are a handful of Boosted Same Game Parlays on the board tonight, and the one that makes me the most intrigued is the combo of a Leafs win, Matthews taking 4+ shots, and Tavares scoring. That’s available at +400, up from +350. Matthews will be looking for a goal after a tough loss and an individual tally of his being given and (correctly) taken away. Tavares has been taking over five shots per game of late and it feels inevitable that a wave of them will start going in soon.
  • If you’re pessimistic on the Leafs in this one – and given their record against minnows, I can’t fully discount that feeling – a combination of a Blue Jackets win and a Marchenko goal is coming for +500, up from +425. Marchenko has the shortest individual odds to score for Columbus without the parlay as well, at +170.
  • I think Toronto steps up with another strong defensive effort tonight, given how the last game against Columbus went and that the Ottawa game wasn’t a huge aberration from that. If you think they can keep Columbus under three goals, that’s available for +105 in the “Team Total 3 Way” section on bet365. If you’re feeling really frisky, under two is +300 and under one (effectively, a shutout) is +1200.