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NHL Betting Odds & Picks for Stars vs. Blue Jackets: Expect Little Offense From Columbus (Feb. 2)

NHL Betting Odds & Picks for Stars vs. Blue Jackets: Expect Little Offense From Columbus (Feb. 2) article feature image

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images. Pictured: Miro Heiskanen (left) and John Klingberg.

  • Two teams that pride themselves on a strong defense meet on Tuesday night in Columbus.
  • The Stars made the Stanley Cup Final last season thanks to a stellar defensive unit.
  • Pete Truszkowski breaks down how he's targeting a low-scoring matchup.

Stars vs. Blue Jackets Odds

Stars Odds -108
Blue Jackets Odds +108
Over/Under 5 (-141 / +116)
Time 7 p.m. ET
Odds as of Monday night and via DraftKings

Two of the league’s top defensive teams will face off on Tuesday night in Columbus, where the Blue Jackets will host the Dallas Stars.

With both teams coming off losses, expect them to try and focus on what they do best: defend. 

The oddsmakers agree as we see a rare total of a flat five goals in this game. Is the under still worth pursuing despite this deflated number?

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Dallas Stars

After opening the season with four straight wins over the Predators and the Red Wings, Dallas was slowed down this past weekend by the Hurricanes. Carolina took both games of the two-game set, as Dallas’ record dropped to 4-1-1. 

Despite a pair of seven-goal outbursts early in the season, Dallas’ bread and butter remains its defense. The Stars made the Stanley Cup Final last season backed by their stinginess and ability to defend. That has carried over to the first six games of this season as they have an expected goals against of 1.94 per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. This mark ranks in the top 10 in the NHL. 

Dallas’ biggest superstars are found on the backend. Miro Heiskanen and John Klingberg are two of the top puck-moving defensemen in hockey who can take care of matters in their own end. Esa Lindell stands out as a shutdown defenseman who can eliminate another team’s top line. 

When the defense breaks down, veteran goaltender Anton Khudobin has been there to clean up the mess. Thrust into the starting role due to Ben Bishop’s injury, Khudobin has opened the season playing well. He has a +2.42 goals saved above average (GSAA) through five starts. Backup goaltender Jake Oettinger is a highly regarded prospect who has also performed well when called upon. 

Even the Stars’ top forwards — Roope Hintz, Jamie Benn and Joe Pavelski — are known for their two-way game. Dallas’ third line of Radek Faksa, Andrew Cogliano and Blake Comeau is often deployed as a checking line against other team’s top players.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Under coach John Tortorella, the Blue Jackets have built an identity as a hard-working, in your face, defensively sound hockey team. They’ve made the playoffs in four straight years which is a shock when you look at the offensive talent on this team over the past two seasons. 

To begin this season, the Blue Jackets have just 46.3% of the expected goals and 41.6% of the high danger chances. This is below their performance over recent seasons. 

A big reason for the Blue Jackets’ underperformance has been their offense. Columbus currently sits third from the bottom in terms of expected goals scored per hour at 5-on-5. The Blue Jackets simply don’t have the offensive talent to overperform. This shows on the scoreboard, as they’ve been held to two goals or fewer in regulation seven times in their first 10 games. 

The team acquired Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for Pierre-Luc Dubois in order to try and add some offensive firepower. Laine will play his first game with the Blue Jackets after returning from an injury. However, it’ll be his first game with a new team with almost no practice time. 

Much like Dallas, the Blue Jackets’ best players are found on the back end. Seth Jones has established himself as one of the better defensemen in the league while Zach Werenski is a top-end puck mover. Few teams have as good of a top pairing as this duo.

In goal, the Blue Jackets rely on a pair of rather unknown goalies in Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzilikens. Korpisalo has been better to open this season, as he’s posted a +4.92 GSAA, which is the second best mark in the league. 

Stars vs. Blue Jackets Best Bet

Going into this game, it felt like an easy under bet for me. Both of these teams have solid goaltending, great team defense and questionable scoring abilities. Neither team does great in terms of driving play, so I expect a very chippy game with not much flow. 

However, the oddsmakers hit us with a total set at 5 goals, which is very rare in hockey. Usually, you’ll see totals set at 5.5. That half-goal safety net is huge.

If I was looking to bet the game total, I’d probably look towards the alternate total. DraftKings offers under 5 goals at +115, but under 4.5 goals at +180.

With this total so low, I can see a 2-1 game here. With that in mind, I’d take the better payout without the safety of a push. If this game gets to a total of 5.5 goals with the under listed at better than -135, I’d be all over it.

With the way the line is at currently, I prefer attacking a team total here.

You can get the Blue Jackets team total under 2.5 goals at -117. Columbus is an underdog in this game, so them scoring three goals in a game with a total of five seems unlikely if you expect them to lose the game. 

With Laine likely needing time to adjust to Columbus, the Blue Jackets don’t have a game changer on offense. They’ve struggled to score this season and have been held under three goals in 60% of their games. When you couple that with the fact that the Stars are one of the better defensive teams in the league, I think there’s value on this team total.

Pick: Columbus Blue Jackets Team Total Under 2.5 (-117) 

UPDATE: Patrik Laine will be in the line-up for Columbus. However, due to the fact that this is his first game in a new system with limited practice, it doesn’t change my handicap much.

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