Arizona Coyotes at Columbus Blue Jackets Odds, Preview, Prediction: 2 Bets to Make in Thursday’s Matchup (October 14)
Kirk Irwin/Getty Images. Pictured: Elvis Merzlikins #90 of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Coyotes at Blue Jackets Odds
|Blue Jackets Odds||-135|
|Time||Thursday, 7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
The Arizona Coyotes will head in to Nationwide Arena to open the season against the Blue Jackets. The matchup may not be the most exciting affair out of Thursday’s nine game NHL slate, with both teams not exactly holding a wealth of bona-fide superstars.
However let’s explore why there’s some value with what will be viewed as a less interesting contest.
Arizona is clear a frontrunner to be in the Shane Wright sweepstakes come May, and enter the season with a roster only comparable to Buffalo in a tier at the absolute bottom of the league.
The good news for Coyotes fans, is that general manager Bill Armstrong has done a spectacular job of collecting a vast number of picks in the upcoming drafts.
Although I do feel that former coach Rick Tocchet clearly held this group back offensively in prior years, new hire Andre Tourigny is left with a very thin group upfront offering little with regards to any sort of elite talent.
The Coyotes are set to begin with a top offensive unit of Lawson Crouse, Nick Schmaltz, and Clayton Keller and a second line of Ryan Dzingel, Johan Larsson, and Loui Eriksson behind them. Phil Kessel currently sits on the IR with an injured foot and will miss the contest.
Defensemen Jakob Chychrun will go as the star of the team, and the 23 year old be highly motivated with a legitimate chance to crack team Canada’s olympic team. Behind him there is not a lot of meaningful support on the back end, but the group should be more capable than the offensive unit for a team that will likely look to win a lot of low scoring games.
A goaltending duo consisting of Carter Hutton and Karel Vejmelka could make that task difficult however.
Hutton should draw the start tomorrow night, and was shaky last season in allowing -8.2 goals saved above expected and an .886 Save percentage.
Columbus Blue Jackets
As opposed to Arizona, I feel that Columbus has been unfairly coupled in the tier of complete cellar-dwellers entering this season. The roster inspires some reason for optimism in my eyes under new coach Brad Larsen.
The team will still likely be suited to play a more defensive style and will strive to win low scoring games, looking to suppress high quality looks in front of Elvis Merzlikins, who I see as a very underrated netminder entering this season. The defense core is underrated in my opinion, headlined by a legit No. 1 d-man in Zach Werenski and offering some reasonable depth throughout.
Upfront there is some cause for optimism too however, and although clearly the unit is well behind other Metro division foes, I like what they have to offer more than some of the other likely lottery teams such as Arizona, Buffalo, and Detroit.
Alex Texier will start between Patrik Laine, and Jakub Voracek. The trio all showed well in preseason and may have more to offer this season skating in a promising new situation.
Specifically Laine, who was always likely to be a bad fit for former Blue Jackets bench boss John Tortorella, but possesses one of the deadliest shots in the league and elite offensive abilities when engaged.
Same goes for Oliver Bjorkstrand, who has averaged well past 20 goals (adjusted due to shortened seasons) the past three years with his wicked wrister. He will start on what could be a decent second unit with Gus Nyquist and Jack Roslovic, as well as the top powerplay unit.
A powerplay unit quarterbacked by Werenski, offering both Laine Bjorkstrand’s shots, and now Voracek on the half wall should be able progress past the dismal 15.4% success rate the Blue Jackets posted last season under coach John Tortorella.
Coyotes vs. Blue Jackets Pick
Arizona is destined to finish near the absolute bottom in goals per game, and although Columbus offer a few more offensive pieces with some upside, the Blue Jackets should still be in the bottom third of the league in terms of offensive production.
As stated I expect the Blue Jackets to be an above average club at suppressing chances against this season, and Elvis Merzlikins to build on what has been a very solid start to his career and be a quality starter this season.
I expect Columbus to finish well above the Coyotes this season, so let’s look for them to get started in the right direction with their home opener Thursday night.
Originally I had planned on just backing Columbus on the moneyline here, but I was surprised to see this game open with a total of 6 at close to even money. That number has since moved to 5.5, but I still like it there at -105.
Pick: Blue Jackets -135 (Play to -145) & Under 5.5 (-105)