NHL playoff picks: Maple Leafs, Canucks headed toward early exits
Andy Devlin / National Hockey League / Getty

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We lost our first bet of the playoffs on Monday with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens game staying comfortably under the total.

It ended quite the winning run and I wasn't particularly fond of that, so let's make it three winners on Tuesday, shall we?

Columbus Blue Jackets (+125) @ Toronto Maple Leafs (-145)

This price is a gift. Win or lose, there's no way we can pass up +125 with this Blue Jackets club, which presents a brutal matchup for the Leafs. Toronto really struggles against aggressive teams that are both physical and relentless on the forecheck, and it showed in Game 1. The Jackets were able to crowd the neutral zone and suffocate the Leafs in transition.

Toronto also got no contributions from its fourth line, which inexcusably played less than four minutes. Given Columbus' depth and physicality, the Leafs can't expect their top guys to carry that sort of burden without tiring. There's a reason they didn't have a shot attempt in the final six minutes of the third period. The Jackets are exhausting to play against, and until the Leafs show an ability to adapt, how can one possibly justify paying this price?

Pick: Blue Jackets (+125)

Calgary Flames (-140) @ Winnipeg Jets (+115)

We saw it in the playoffs last year and we're seeing it in this series: The Flames don't have that quality a team needs to succeed beyond the regular season. Up a game, and with the Jets missing both Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine, the Flames should have stepped on Winnipeg's throats in Game 2. Instead, they came out flat and the series is level.

The Jets are rallying around Matthew Tkachuk's hit on Scheifele. They put in a great effort in Game 2, and in a back-to-back situation, they go into Tuesday's tilt with all the momentum. Both Scheifele and Laine could potentially return for Game 3, but even without them, the Jets possess the offense, elite goaltending, and the know-how needed to grind out postseason wins. The Flames have a lot to learn in that regard.

Pick: Jets (+115)

Minnesota Wild (-115) @ Vancouver Canucks (-105)

After taking the Wild in Game 1, I'm going back to the well for Game 2 without hesitation. The Canucks, while talented atop the roster, are overrated as a team. They lack depth, they're weak on the back end, and they play a naive brand of hockey - selling out for offense and relying on Jacob Markstrom to bail them out. It's not a recipe for long-term success, and especially not in the playoffs.

What's even more concerning for Vancouver is the performance of its top six. They were unable to drive play and all finished with an expected goals for percentage below 40%. The Wild were able to completely shut them down thanks to some terrific depth on defense and valuable contributions from all four lines. Minnesota's fourth line had a 90.59 xGF% and that about sums up the Wild's Game 1 dominance. They play a much more sophisticated brand of hockey and are a bargain at this price.

Pick: Wild (-115)

(Odds source: theScore Bet)

Alex Moretto is a sports betting writer for theScore. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.

NHL playoff picks: Maple Leafs, Canucks headed toward early exits
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