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NHL Odds & Picks for Panthers vs. Blue Jackets: Florida Has Value, Even as Favorite (Tuesday, March 9)

NHL Odds & Picks for Panthers vs. Blue Jackets: Florida Has Value, Even as Favorite (Tuesday, March 9) article feature image

Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Sergei Bobrovsky.

  • The Florida Panthers are one of the best teams in the NHL, but the betting market hasn't realized it yet.
  • Pete Truszkowski breaks down why there's great value on the Panthers agains the Blue Jackets.

Panthers vs. Blue Jackets Odds

Panthers Odds -125
Blue Jackets Odds +105
Over/Under 5.5
Time 7 p.m. ET
Odds as of Monday night and via PointsBet.

The Florida Panthers will travel to Columbus to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets in a battle of Central Division teams.

The Panthers have been a surprise to most, having won points in 19 of their first 24 games. On the flipside, the Blue Jackets have been a disappointment, currently finding themselves below .500 and on the outside looking in when it comes to a playoff spot. 

Florida finds themselves as short road favorites in this contest. As the better team, are they in range for a bet?

Florida Panthers

The Florida Panthers enter this game with a record of 15-5-4. This is the fourth best record in the league, but only the 3rd best record in the top-heavy Central Division. Nevertheless, the Panthers are amongst the best teams in the league. 

Florida’s analytical profile backs up their strong start. Florida is doing a good job in terms of controlling play. Their 53.6% expected goal-rate ranks fourth best in hockey. The Panthers also find themselves in the top seven when it comes to shot attempt rate, high danger chance percentage and scoring chance share. 

A lot of attention is paid to Florida’s offense, as they rank 6th in the league scoring 3.3 goals a night on average. Jonathan Huberdeau and Alexander Barkov are two elite players in this league and their supporting cast has been strong to begin the season. Patric Hornqvist has been a great addition for the Panthers while Carter Verhaeghe, Anthony Duclair and Alex Wennberg have also been solid in their first season in Sunrise. 

As talented as their offense is, it’s actually the defensive effort that has driven the Panthers. They rank third in the league in terms of expected goals against. They are giving up just 7.47 high danger chances per hour at 5-on-5, far and away the best number in the league. Aaron Ekblad has developed into an elite defenseman while the rest of the defensive corps has been solid behind him. 

While their record doesn’t show it, goaltending has been an issue for the Panthers. Sergei Bobrovsky has a -9.1 goals saved above expectation mark while Chris Driedger has started to slip a little after a great start. The Panthers need Bobrovsky to be the goaltender that they paid him to be. 

Columbus Blue Jackets

Over the past few seasons, the Columbus Blue Jackets have been a team that outperformed their talent level due to a commitment to team defense and attention to detail. In the early part of the season, it seems like things are starting to catch up to the Jackets. 

Sitting at 10-11-5 through 26 games, the Blue Jackets find themselves out of a playoff spot despite playing more games than most teams in the division. Columbus has been a solid team analytically over the past few seasons, but that hasn’t been the case to begin this year. 

The Jackets rank 27th in the league with an expected goal rate of 47.2%. Only the Detroit Red Wings are generating less offense at 5-on-5 than Columbus. The Blue Jackets are actually over-performing their metrics offensively but still find themselves in the bottom ten in 5-on-5 goals per hour and 25th in terms of goals per game. 

Defense has been the identity of this team under John Tortorella, but that hasn’t been the case to begin this year. Usually near the top of the league, the Jackets are right around average in terms of expected goals against and limiting high danger chances. Columbus is giving up 3.2 goals a night, which ranks 25th. 

Elvis Merzlikins might make his return for Columbus between the pipes in this game. It’d be a welcome addition, as Joonas Korpisalo has struggled this season. Both goalies have room for improvement as the two have combined for a -15.2 goals saved above expectation on the season. 

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Panthers vs. Blue Jackets Best Bet

It seems to me like oddsmakers still aren’t fully buying in on the Florida Panthers. This is one of the best teams in the league that can be had on most nights at an affordable price. If you bet Florida on the moneyline blindly in every game this season, you’d have nearly a +15% return on your investment. 

Once again, I think the Panthers are undervalued here. Columbus is a below average team in the Central Division while Florida is amongst the league’s elite. Goaltending might be an issue for the Panthers, but Sergei Bobrovsky is trending in a positive direction and has the pedigree to inspire confidence in a resurgence.

Florida has a dangerous offense, while Columbus hasn’t been its usual self in terms of keeping the puck out of their net. On the other side, Columbus is subpar offensively while the Panthers are very good at limiting their opponents’ chances. 

At the current odds, it’s implied that Florida wins this game less than 56% of the time. I disagree with that claim. Even as a road favorite, I think there’s still some value on the Panthers in this spot. 

Pick: Panthers -125 (up to -130)

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