NHL Betting: Finding Value In Blue Jackets-Blues, Canadiens-Sabres
Aaron Doster, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Josh Anderson
Betting odds: Columbus Blue Jackets at St. Louis Blues
- Blue Jackets moneyline: +113
- Blues moneyline: -133
- Over/Under: 6 (+100/-120)
- Puck drop: 8 p.m. ET
>> All odds as of 12 a.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NHL odds and track your bets
(Editor’s note: A previous version of this story had Sergei Bobrovsky as the likely starter for Columbus. It has since been updated.)
The Columbus Blue Jackets, as they are currently constructed, are one of the NHL’s most complete teams. The Jackets have a fantastic group of forwards, one of the best defense pairs in the league and one of the game’s best goaltenders in Sergei Bobrovsky.
The only problem has been that ‘Bob’ has not been himself to start the season. The 30-year-old has an ugly .879 5v5 save percentage, a -3.3% delta save percentage (the difference between his 5v5 SV% and expected SV%) and a -4.66 Goals Saved Above Average.
With Bobrovsky struggling, John Tortorella is handing a start to Joonas Korpisalo. The 24-year-old Finn has been a below-average goaltender in his career and has a -0.81 GSAA in two starts this season. In his last 34 starts, Korpisalo owns a .903 5v5 SV% and -10.94 GSAA.
The goaltending isn’t pretty, but the rest of Columbus’ game looks strong. The Jackets are a positive Corsi team (51.7%), create 2.71 expected goals for per 60 minutes (xGF/60) — the fourth-best mark in the NHL — and only allow 9.34 High-Danger Scoring Chances per 60 minutes at 5v5.
These stats are more impressive when you consider they’ve played most of this season without Seth Jones, one of the NHL’s best rearguards.
The Blues, on the other hand, are off to a sluggish start and their goaltender isn’t helping things, either. After a poor 2017-18, Jake Allen is off to a slow start in his first seven games this season. The 28-year-old has a .905 5v5 SV% and -1.62 GSAA. Unlike Bobrovsky, it’s hard to be confident in an uptick in form from Allen.
While the Blue Jackets’ strong peripheral metrics have picked up their struggling goalie, the same can’t be said of St. Louis.
Through the first eight games the Blues have produced just 1.88 xGF/60 and have controlled just 45.8% of the shot share.
*I already bet Columbus at +113 expecting Bobrovsky to start, but with Korpisalo in goal, I’d stay away at that number. If the price ends up getting to +120 or above, I’d suggest a play on the Jackets.
The Bet: Columbus Blue Jackets +113*
Betting odds: Montreal Canadiens at Buffalo Sabres
- Canadiens moneyline: +100
- Sabres moneyline: -120
- Over/Under: 5.5 (-115/-105)
- Puck drop: 7 p.m. ET
The Montreal Canadiens are off to a wonderful start this season thanks to their high-speed game and the re-emergence of Carey Price. Thankfully for Sabres backers, Price will not start on Thursday night.
Antti Niemi is confirmed as the starter for the Canadiens and even though he had a great end to 2017-18, it’s hard to trust the veteran netminder to get the job done at this stage of his career. Corsica Hockey has Niemi ranked 61st of 68 goaltenders while Carter Hutton, the likely starter for the Sabres, is ranked No. 7.
Buffalo plays at the third-slowest pace (shot attempts for + shot attempts against at 5v5) and are one of the better teams in the league at suppressing scoring chances (2.07 xGA/60).
Even though Montreal generates a lot of shot attempts (54.6 CF/60) the Habs don’t generate a ton of scoring chances (2.24 xGF/60). In fact, Montreal allows more High-Danger Scoring Chances per 60 than it generates.
In a game that could see scoring chances hard to come by, I think the edge here is with the home team up to -127.
The Bet: Buffalo Sabres -120