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Blue Jackets vs. Red Wings NHL Odds & Picks: Why You Should Back Detroit as Underdog (Jan. 19)

Blue Jackets vs. Red Wings NHL Odds & Picks: Why You Should Back Detroit as Underdog (Jan. 19) article feature image

Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Dylan Larkin (center).

  • The Red Wings are in a rebuilding phase, but a strong start to the regular season suggests they may be better than expected.
  • Matt Russell breaks down why he sees value in Detroit against Columbus on Tuesday night.

Blue Jackets vs. Red Wings Odds

Blue Jackets Odds -177 [BET NOW]
Red Wings Odds +150 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 5.5 [BET NOW]
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds as of Monday at 7:30 p.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.

Donnybrook, brouhaha, yard sale, line brawl. 

Some words are funnier to say than others and in the case of hockey culture, there’s more than enough slang to go around. Just watch any episode of Canadian comedy series “Letterkenny” to drink that in. 

The Blue Jackets and Red Wings spent Monday afternoon celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day by punching each other in the face in the late goings of what was eventually a 3-2 Blue Jackets win. At the time of the spirited brawl that included former college teammates, Dylan Larkin and Zach Werenski, duking it out, the score was 3-1 Blue Jackets and a late Wings goal made the score cosmetically more appealing for Detroit.

While the fights got the headlines and the two points go to Columbus in the standings, we have to look a little bit deeper to find who we might want to trust in the rematch on Tuesday — I’m not talking about Larkin vs. Werenski.

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Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets rolled into Motown with some early season urgency for the Monday matinee.

Despite having lost two games to the Predators to start the season, Columbus deserved better based on how they played 5-on-5. My rating of the Blue Jackets actually improved in the “Let’s Do That Hockey” model over at THE WINDOW podcast. The market seemed to agree, as the Blue Jackets were consensus -185 favorites on the road in Detroit, which was within 1% of my projection for the game. 

The Blue Jackets went to Detroit needing a win against an inferior team, checked into the downtown Caesars property, dropped the puck, won the game relatively easily and now all is well for Columbus heading into the game on Tuesday night, right?


I don’t think it’s that easy, and it starts with our primary 5-on-5 metrics that we look at to determine predictiveness going forward. According to the good people at Natural Stat Trick, the Blue Jackets only were good enough for 1.33 Expected Goals For (xGF) and accumulated only five High-Danger Chances at full-strength, about two-thirds the average number per game. Despite an inability to create, they scored three times on the five chances, an absurd 60% rate. Teams are converting at an average of around 15% this season. The Jackets themselves had only converted at 13.3%.

The law of averages apparently took the day off on Monday, as well. 

Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings came into the season with incredibly low expectations, and we’re not here to make the case that they’re any better than the fifth-worst team in the league. However, they’ve got a win under their belt against Stanley Cup-contender Carolina after playing the Hurricanes to a 1-0 score in Game 1 before putting Detroit away with a pair of late goals.

Watch any of the Red Wings’ games and you’ll see an interesting mix of young potential and veterans with something to prove. You’ll get some fight from the Wings, and not just when they get tangled up with a former college teammate.

While the Blue Jackets were putting up subpar creation numbers and improbably conversion numbers 5-on-5, it was the Red Wings that actually had the better results. Detroit was good for 2.27 xGF, almost double the rate of the Blue Jackets, while also creating nine High-Danger Chances. Some quick math indicates that’s also almost double the number that Columbus had.

The issue for the Red Wings was scoring just one goal on those High Danger Chances. Adding in a Detroit goal 6-on-5, and we have ourselves the 3-2 final score.

Blue Jackets-Red Wings Pick

If you’re willing to rely on the Blue Jackets to convert at outrageous levels again, feel free to lay the big price on a Columbus team that the market has rated at slightly above average. The number is pricing the Red Wings as a terrible team but so far, the numbers indicate they’re merely “not good.”

Even with the Blue Jackets rated 10% above average thanks to an outlier High Danger Chance conversion rate and the Red Wings rating 10% below average, that still only adds up to make Columbus no more than a -140 favorite. 

It’s the fourth true back-to-back rematch of the season in the NHL, with no day off in-between. The Oilers bounced back after losing to the Canucks last week, with a 13.9% increase in win probability from first matchup to rematch, according to my model. The Sabres had a small dip in their win probability in their two games against the Capitals, but Buffalo actually was the better team 5-on-5 in both games, even though they actually lost each time. Then the Toronto Maple Leafs increased their win probability 36.1% on the second half of a back-to-back against the Senators.

We’re all over the map here and are going to need more information, but I’d lean to what the math has shown us, as well as the eye test, of an improved effort in Game 2 by the loser of the first.

Even without building in anything mathematically, the model still says Detroit has value. The Red Wings were able to win the second game against Carolina, and I’ll take them at significant value to beat the Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.

The Pick: Red Wings (+140 or better) 

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