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NHL Odds & Pick for Predators vs. Blue Jackets: Columbus Has Slight Edge in Tight Matchup

NHL Odds & Pick for Predators vs. Blue Jackets: Columbus Has Slight Edge in Tight Matchup article feature image

Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Elvis Merzlikins.

  • The Blue Jackets host the Predators on Thusrday night in a matchup of two evenly matched teams.
  • Columbus received reinforcements in net recently, giving them a slight advantage.
  • Matt Russell previews the matchup and gives his pick below.

Predators vs. Blue Jackets Odds

Predators Odds +100
Blue Jackets Odds -120
Over/Under 5.5
Time | TV Thursday, 7 p.m. ET
Odds as of Wednesday night and via PointsBet.

We’re at the point of the NHL season where the numbers have piled up enough that there’s not going to be a ton of surprises on a nightly basis. There’s not going to be many situations where our numbers are drastically off what the sportsbooks have when making their moneylines. 

So we have to be creative in our handicapping, and look beyond even the underlying numbers and analytics and break things down into something of a “what have you done for me lately?” That’s certainly the case here when the Predators visit the Blue Jackets in a game that would seem to match two evenly rated teams, that’s confirmed by a near pick’em price. 

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Nashville Predators

After a 4-3 start that was misleading relative to the underlying metrics, the Predators’ advanced analytics have caught up with them, as they’ve lost six of their last eight. And those two wins weren’t exactly dominant performances: A quasi-miraculous comeback win in Florida, and a game that could have gone either way with Detroit.

Most recently, the Preds had a pair of games canceled in Dallas, so they’ll be somewhat rested coming into Columbus, though sitting around in a hotel room for a few days couldn’t have been particularly rejuvenating. Nashville appears to be in the midst of a goaltending controversy, with a long-time superstar netminder seemingly taking back the net. Pekka Rinne hasn’t exactly wrested away the job, but Juuse Saros has rather handed the gig back to him, thanks to his -6.00 GSAA (goals saved above average), 51st in the NHL. 

While we seemingly never know until the bitter end before these games, the assumption is that Saros will get another chance after two starts from Rinne, which at this point is a good thing for the Blue Jackets. 

Columbus Blue Jackets

Another good thing for Columbus is the return of Elvis Merzlikins, as his presence allows the Blue Jackets to keep Joonas Korpisalo fresh. In Merzlikins’ absence, Korpisalo was forced into heavier duty than he’s used to, and it may have caught up with him in their last game, where the Hurricanes chased Korpisalo with five goals on 25 shots through two periods. Merzlikins saw his first action in weeks, and while he gave up two goals in a game that the Blue Jackets saw get away from them, I think it was good for him to see some live game-action before getting his first start. 

The expectation is that Merzlikins will get that start on Thursday against Nashville, a team that’s perfect if you’re looking to ease your way back in. The Predators haven’t recorded double-digit high-danger chances at even-strength since before their 2-6 stretch, and their 23rd-ranked power play isn’t striking fear in any hearts at the moment. 

Offensively, the Blue Jackets have kicked things up a notch in the last few games, with a very un-Jackets-like number of high-danger chances. They’ve had three of their highest HDC totals in their last three games with nine, 13 and 16 in succession. They’ve converted eight of those 38 chances, so the conversion rate has been very good as well. Some of this could be attributed to a pair of new additions in Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic, both of whom have recorded a point per game since arriving in Columbus. 

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Betting Analysis & Pick

The line for this game makes sense. My numbers according to the “Let’s Do That Hockey” model from THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast expected this line to be CBJ -114/NSH -106 based on both teams being similarly below average 5-on-5. 

However, the Blue Jackets have more answers in net than they did last week, and the Predators have fewer. The Blue Jackets have a noticeable uptick in offense after new additions, while the Predators have a consistent lack of offence and no catalyst for change. 

I understand why the prices are what they are, but I think with this handicap we can create a case for value on the Blue Jackets at home as a modest favorite. 

Pick: Blue Jackets  (-125 or better)

[Bet Predators-Blue Jackets now at PointsBet risk-free up to $250]

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