NHL Odds & Pick for Predators vs. Blue Jackets: Second Verse Should Be Same as First For Columbus
Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Patrick Laine.
Predators vs. Blue Jackets Odds
|Blue Jackets Odds||-130|
|Time | TV||Saturday, 7 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Friday night and via BetMGM.|
We were on the Blue Jackets to beat the Predators as short favorites on Thursday night, and got a relatively easy winner as the Jackets shut out the Preds. In a season where the team that lost the first of a scheduled pair of games increases their win probability by roughly 7% and gets revenge 61% of the time, you might think there’s some value with the underdog here with Nashville. In this case though, I’m not buying in.
The concerns with the Predators are two-fold at this point in the season:
1) The offense isn’t good.
On average, teams create close to eight High-Danger Chances per game while at even-strength. Naturally, this tends to fluctuate on a game-to-game basis considering some games have a more wide-open flow, and others are more tight-checking. We’ve seen teams get as many as 16 HDCs in a game in the Central division this season. It’s been 10 games since the last time the Predators created more than 8 HDCs, and they’ve done so just once this season (according to naturalstattrick.com).
On Thursday against the Blue Jackets, the Predators were able to muster just five HDCs and didn’t convert any of them. The Predators earned the only power play of the game, failing to score.
2) The goaltending is sketchy at best.
Juuse Saros has a -6.27 Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA) this season, a robust 53rd in the NHL. This is slightly worse than it was before his start in Columbus (-6, 51st) due to the pair of goals Saros gave up on non-High Danger Chances.
I expect the Predators to turn to their old reliable, long-time goaltender Pekka Rinne for the rematch on Saturday. While it’s been a bounce-back year for the 38-year old, his -14.2 GSAA last season still looms as the direction where regression might take over with more action.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Elvis Merzlikins received his first start in more than two weeks last time out after missing time with an injury. With a day off Friday, I expect him to be back in the net, as he should still be fresh. His counterpart, Joonas Korpisalo, appears to need some time after seeing his GSAA fall to -6.93 while he attempted to carry the vast majority of the work for two weeks.
Offensively, the Blue Jackets didn’t get much from the usual suspectes in the 3-0 win on Thursday. While they got one goal from the top-line, when Cam Atkinson opened the scoring, they may have been happier to get a rare goal from offseason acquisition Max Domi. Overall, they only created 5 HDCs (same as Nashville), but unlike the Predators that’s more of the lower end of their range than their usual output.
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Betting Analysis & Pick
Thursday’s moneyline pricing of CBJ -120/NSH +100 was fair based on the season-long numbers, and nothing from what we saw on Thursday night would make us reevaluate this handicap. The slight adjustment of the Blue Jackets opening at -125 is a small price to pay to take another swing with Columbus to take advantage of Nashville’s glaring weaknesses.
Pick: Blue Jackets (-130 or better)