Blue Jackets vs. Blackhawks Betting Odds, Picks: Back Chicago’s Defense?

Blue Jackets vs. Blackhawks Betting Odds, Picks: Back Chicago’s Defense? article feature image

Kamil Krzaczynski, USA TODAY Sports.

  • The Chicago Blackhawks are -145 home favorites against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night.
  • Should the Blackhawks be such a heavy favorite tonight?

Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Chicago Blackhawks Odds

  • Blue Jackets odds: +125
  • Blackhawks odds: -145
  • Over/Under: 6.5
  • Time: 8:30 p.m. ET

The Chicago Blackhawks were a sight to behold last season. Patrick Kane was talismanic, Alex DeBrincat established himself as a dynamic goal-scorer and Jonathan Toews returned to form. And then there was the defense.

For a team with so much firepower, the ‘Hawks were an absolute mess in their own zone and that made them one of the most entertaining teams to watch as a neutral and one of the spookiest to watch as a bettor.

The Blackhawks were the league’s worst defensive team by expected goals, allowing a league-high 2.76 expected goals against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. Despite a porous defense, the ‘Hawks enjoyed a second-half renaissance under new head coach Jeremy Colliton, playing at a 96-point pace over the second half of the season.

Chicago spent the offseason trying to shore up its defense, adding stable veterans Calvin de Haan and Olli Maatta to a unit crying for stability. It’s only been four games, but the early results are not great.

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The Blackhawks have given up the most high-danger chances per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 and their 2.48 xGA/60 ranks second-to-last.

Heatmap via

Columbus’ offseason was very different from Chicago’s. The Blue Jackets were gutted, losing their two best forwards and all-world goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to free agency.

The exodus was drastic, but Columbus still graded out as a top-10 defensive team down the stretch and that has carried over into the new season.

Heatmap via

The Blue Jackets rank inside the top 10 in both expected goals against and high-danger chances allowed per 60 minutes, and their low-event style should provide Chicago with a tough matchup, stylistically.

The Blackhawks thrive when their stars have free rein and Columbus should be able to limit space and contain the high-flying ‘Hawks. On the other side, the Blue Jackets don’t mind fighting through an ugly game. In fact that is exactly how they want to play.

Columbus’ goaltending is always a worry, but with the Blue Jackets’ defense going the way it is, it’s a risk worth taking.

These odds imply that Chicago wins this game 57.1% of the time. When you adjust that number for home-ice advantage, you’d get Chicago as a slight favorite over Columbus on neutral ice and rest.

I actually would flip that and rate the Jackets a smidge higher than Chicago. And thus, I think Columbus is in range for a bet at +120 or better.

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