NHL Odds, Picks and Predictions (Wednesday, August 19): Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Game 5 Preview

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Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Joonas Korpisalo

  • The Columbus Blue Jackets (+150 odds) and Tampa Bay Lightning (-177 odds) meet in a crucial Game 5 Wednesday.
  • The Blue Jackets are down 3-1 and face a must-win situation in today's matinee matchup.
  • Michael Leboff's gives his game analysis below and prediction, including where he sees the most betting value.

Game 5: Blue Jackets vs. Lightning Odds

Blue Jackets Odds +150 [BET NOW]
Lightning Odds -177 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 5 (-125/+104) [BET NOW]
Time 12 p.m. ET
TV NBCSN

Odds as of Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.


The Columbus Blue Jackets are a wonderful story. The Jackets lost their two most important players over the offseason, had their roster ravaged by injuries during the regular season and were basically left for dead ahead of the 2019-20 season.

John Tortorella’s side scratched and clawed their way into the playoff mix thanks to one of the NHL’s best defenses, only to draw their polar opposites, the super-talented but defensively ignorant Toronto Maple Leafs, in the best-of-5 Qualifying Round ahead of the Stanley Cup Playoffs Proper.

The Jackets upset the Leafs, battling back to win a do-or-die Game 5 just 48 hours after blowing a three-goal lead with five minutes left in Game 4, only to get rewarded with first-round series against the mighty Tampa Bay Lightning.

Four games and 16-plus periods later, the Jackets are on the brink of seeing their gutsy season come to an end. And once again the odds are not in their favor.

Despite ending up on the wrong side of a 2-1 result, Columbus put together its best performance of this series in Game 4. For the first time in this matchup the Blue Jackets were able to keep things relatively even at 5-on-5. The Bolts still won the expected goals battle, 1.44 to 1.22, but the shot attempts and high-danger scoring chances were split down the middle.

On the whole, this series has been one-way traffic in favor of the uber-talented Lightning.

Blue Jackets Lightning
Goals 5 9
Expected Goals 5.95 11.3
Shot Attempts 203 329
High-danger scoring chances 24 50

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.


The Blue Jackets do a splendid job at making mismatches look a lot closer than they should, but it’s hard to call Tampa vs. Columbus anything else.

The odds reflect that notion and there is growing confidence in the Lightning ahead of Game 5. The Bolts haven’t closed above -180 yet in this series at DraftKings but they are sitting at -182 at the time of writing.

It’s hard to imagine the Jackets will receive much betting support ahead of puck drop on Thursday afternoon.

Lightning Blue Jackets
Game 1 -165 +143
Game 2 -180 +150
Game 3 -177 +150
Game 4 -162 +140
Game 5 -182 +155

Odds via DraftKings

It takes some courage to back Columbus in this game but I think the price is good enough to give the Jackets some serious consideration. The listed odds imply that Columbus wins this game 37.8% of the time and I think that’s a little low, considering the Jackets closed at +140 ahead of Game 4.

I always tend to lean towards good defensive teams at high odds and I’ll stick with that here, even though I acknowledge that the Bolts are very likely to get the job done. I wouldn’t dip too much further below +155, but I’ll be on the Jackets for perhaps the final time on Thursday.

[Bet now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

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