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Blue Jackets vs. Predators NHL Odds & Pick: Goaltender Matchup Gives Nashville an Edge (Feb. 28)

Blue Jackets vs. Predators NHL Odds & Pick: Goaltender Matchup Gives Nashville an Edge (Feb. 28) article feature image

Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Pekka Rinne.

Blue Jackets vs. Predators Odds

Blue Jackets Odds +102
Predators Odds -120
Over/Under 5.5
Time 3 p.m. ET
TV NHL Network
Odds as of Saturday night and via DraftKings.

There are missed opportunities in betting that we all lament, but rarely are we willing to acknowledge the bets we definitely would have lost. After all, we were right in not making the bet.

In the case of Saturday’s Music City matinee, the goaltending matchup didn’t give either team an edge on paper because they’ve played equally poorly. So, in theory, the over would have been the bet in that game. Of course, it never came close in coming home.

For those of us who didn’t pull the trigger, bullet dodged.

Columbus Blue Jackets

The Columbus Blue Jackets have to feel like an opportunity slipped through their fingers on Saturday after a 2-1 loss to the Predators. The Jackets were only able to manage one goal against Juuse Saros in the Nashville goaltender’s first game in nine days. In fact, the Predators presumed No. 1 goalie coming into the season fell out of favor with the coaching staff after a 3-0 loss to Columbus back on Feb. 18.

Seeing Saros in the crease to open up this weekend’s back-to-back set had to be a sight for sore eyes, as the Blue Jackets offense has had a hard time creating much in the way of chances lately. Even on a night where they scored five times against the Blackhawks, they only created five High-Danger Chances (HDC) at even-strength, converting one.

Columbus missed an opportunity not just because of who was in the net for Nashville, but also because of what they got from their own goaltender. Joonas Korpisalo has been searching for his best game for the vast majority of the season, having lost his last five starts.

Korpisalo has found himself slightly above Martin Jones and the two Senators goaltenders at the bottom of the NHL in Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA). The eye test hasn’t been pretty either because he’s often been out of position, especially in traffic.

That said, Korpisalo turned aside 31 of 33 shots in a very respectable performance on Saturday.

Nashville Predators

The Predators’ two goals on Korpisalo were almost identical, seeing-eye shots from the left point scored by Mattias Ekholm. You needed multiple replays to figure out how the puck found its way into the net but nevertheless, the two lucky shots were the difference on the scoreboard. 

These difference-making goals were a pleasant surprise for Nashville on an afternoon when the offense otherwise took the day off. The Predators had actually found a boost in their offensive creation metrics in the last three games, with HDC totals of 13, 12 and 11. So, in managing just five against the Blue Jackets, they definitely got away with one. 

The evenly played game did nothing to change either teams’ rating in my “Let’s Do That Hockey” model, as heard on “THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast.” The Predators continue to be slightly below average at even-strength while the Blue Jackets are almost 9% below. 

Betting Analysis & Pick

The key element for Sunday’s rematch isn’t so much the separation between the two teams from a rating perspective, but what kind of game we’re going to get from the goaltenders.

The Blue Jackets’ options are a second straight day of work from Korpisalo or turning to rookie Veini Vehvilainen, who has played as many minutes in an NHL crease as I have and for all I know may not be a real person. 

The Predators got away with starting Saros, and I would expect them to turn back to their old reliable netminder, Pekka Rinne, who until a pair of shoddy goals against him on Thursday had been playing the better of the tandem.

With a couple days’ rest for Rinne, an edge exists in net that didn’t on Saturday. While the tendency can be to lean to a revenge winner in these back-to-back scenarios — a strategy that’s been successful better than 60% of the time — in this case, I think we’ve got a situation where the Blue Jackets blew their opportunity for the split in the first game. I expect the Predators to be the team to step up their game on Sunday.

Pick: Predators (-120 or better)

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