Blue Jackets at Blues Betting Odds, Pick: Which Team Is Headed for Regression?

Blue Jackets at Blues Betting Odds, Pick: Which Team Is Headed for Regression? article feature image
Credit:

Aaron Doster, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Seth Jones

Columbus Blue Jackets at St. Louis Blues Odds

  • Blue Jackets odds: +150
  • Blues odds: -170
  • Over/Under: 5.5
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET

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There was only one path to contention for the Columbus Blue Jackets this season. After losing their two best forwards and star goaltender to free agency, the Jackets would need to commit to a simple game and focus on defense.

Their 5-5-2 record and 43 goals allowed may not look great on the surface, but Columbus has actually been one of the better defensive teams in the NHL during the first month of the season.

Through 12 games, the Blue Jackets have an expected goals rate (xG) of 50.6% and are a top-10 team in xG allowed and high-danger chances allowed per 60 minutes this season.

The importance of Columbus’ defense can’t be overstated, as the Blue Jackets don’t create much offense (2.04 xGF/60) and are relying on two unproven goaltenders to carry them through this season.

Neither Joonas Korpisalo nor Elvis Merzlikins has set shined for John Tortorella’s team, but the players in front of them are doing their best to make life easy on the two young European netminders.

Columbus boasts a .951 expected save percentage (xSV%) at 5-on-5 this season, the eighth-best mark in the NHL.

Heatmap via HockeyViz.com

Unfortunately, Korpisalo has been among the worst goaltenders in the NHL this season. His -9.6 Goals Saved Above Average (all situations) ranks second-to-last among goaltenders with at least 200 minutes played this season.

If either Korpisalo or Merzlikins can stabilize things in the blue paint, the Blue Jackets will be a tough team to beat on any given night.

After their miraculous run to the Stanley Cup last spring, the St. Louis Blues could have been forgiven for stumbling out of the gates this October. A 7-3-3 start has quieted any concerns of a championship hangover, but the picture under the hood in The Loo is not very pretty.

St. Louis currently ranks 29th in the NHL with a 43.9 xG% and the Blues’ incredible defense from last season has not been up to snuff to start this season, allowing 2.2 expected goals against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5.

If St. Louis’ defense has been mediocre, its offense has been downright ghastly. The Blues are creating just 1.71 xGF/60 and 7.42 high-danger chances for per 60, good enough for dead last in both categories. St. Louis is scoring 2.24 goals per game at 5-on-5, which suggests the Blues are very lucky to be where they are through their first 13 games.

Heatmap via HockeyViz.com

St. Louis’ offensive woes could get worse over the next few weeks as the Blues lost their best scoring forward, Vladimir Tarasenko, to a long-term injury. That is a huge loss for a team that looks like it will be searching for offense in the first quarter of the season.

This sets up as a good matchup for the Blue Jackets at this price. The Blues should have problems creating much offense against Columbus’ sturdy defense and I expect this to be a low-event game, which should only lend more value to the Blue Jackets’ price.

The current odds suggest that the Blues win this game 61.2% of the time. I know they are the defending champs, but that number is too high, especially considering the fact that St. Louis looks ripe for regression. It’s a bet you lose more often than you win, but that doesn’t make it the wrong bet. I’d play the Blue Jackets at any number north of +143.

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