Blue Jackets at Panthers Betting Odds and Pick: Will Columbus Beat Old Friend Bobrovsky?
Steve Mitchell, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Sergei Bobrovsky
Columbus Blue Jackets at Florida Panthers Odds
- Blue Jackets odds: +148
- Panthers odds: -175
- Over/Under: 6.5
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
Judging by their record, it looks like its been a struggle for the Columbus Blue Jackets this season. The Jackets sit at 11-13-4 with 26 points and are nine points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. John Tortorella’s team has dropped three games in a row and will be without top-pair defenseman Zach Werenski for a month.
Outside of all that, the Blue Jackets have actually been pretty good this season. Per Evolving-Hockey, only two teams — Pittsburgh and Carolina — have a better expected goals share (xG%) than the Blue Jackets this season. And over the past month, a span that includes at least 12 games for every team in the NHL, the Blue Jackets lead the league with a 57.4 xG%.
Columbus will never be confused with an offensive powerhouse, but the Jackets have are one of the league’s stingiest teams, allowing just 2.03 expected goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5.
The problem is that no matter how good your defense is, if your goaltending lets you down, your sunk. The Blue Jackets know that all too well this season, as starting goaltender Joonas Korpisalo has a league-worst -12.93 Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx) in 22 games this season.
The Jackets took a gamble on handing the Finnish netminder the keys to the car after Sergei Bobrovsky, one of the league’s best goaltenders over the past five seasons, left for the Florida Panthers.
Ironically, the Panthers have done a good job of hanging with the pack in spite of Bobrovsky this season. Bobrovsky has been a massive disappointment for Joel Quenneville’s team, posting a -11.35 GSAx in 21 games.
Overall, the Panthers grade out as a mediocre team, but they have the top-end talent to make good on the chances they create. Florida is just under 50% in expected goals, but the Cats are being carried by their offense for the most part.
Florida averages 2.5 expected goals for per 60 minutes on the season, which is the eighth-best mark in the NHL. Defensively, things are a bit worrying as the Cats allow the sixth-most expected goals and high-danger chances against per 60 minutes in the NHL.
Florida’s mediocre defense should give Columbus, a team that lacks scoring punch, enough looks to get a few biscuits past Bob. If the Jackets can convert those opportunities, I like their chances to hold a lead.
The Blue Jackets are as high as +148 at the time of writing, which implies they have a 38.8% chance of winning this game. That tells me the market is too low on the Jackets — which makes sense considering their record and current losing streak — but it’s also a great number on a team that is actually playing great hockey when you take a deeper look. I’d play Columbus at +135 or above on Saturday.