NHL Odds, Preview, Pick: Avalanche vs. Blue Jackets (November 3)

NHL Odds, Preview, Pick: Avalanche vs. Blue Jackets (November 3) article feature image

Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Elvis Merzlikins

  • The Colorado Avalanche are still the Stanley Cup Favorites despite a sluggish start due to injury issues.
  • The Columbus Blue Jackets have been a pesky underdog this season, winning five of their first eight games.
  • Jonny Lazarus previews Wednesday's tilt in Colorado.

Avalanche vs. Blue Jackets Odds

Columbus Blue Jackets+150
Colorado Avalanche-185
Time9 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The Colorado Avalanche haven't played up to their lofty expectations thus far this season, and with a depleted lineup it could take a bit longer for Colorado to get on pace.

Believe it or not, the Columbus Blue Jackets (5-3) come into this game with a better record than the Avalanche (4-4), and it's clear that taking this Blue Jackets team lightly is a mistake.

In fact, I see a path to success for the Jackets tonight, especially with the Avalanche missing key players like Cale Makar, Mikko Rantanen and Devon Toews. Not to mention, the Avs will be starting Jonas Johansson in net on Wednesday.

Don't Sleep on the Blue Jackets

Elvis Merzlikins has been the story so far in Columbus, skating to a 4-1 record with a .939 save perecentage (SV%) and a +5 Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx), per MoneyPuck. Merzlikins is expected to get the start for the Blue Jackets.

Columbus' calling card over the years has been its defensive structure, but last year that went out the window as the team fell apart. The team has improved a bit in the early going in its own end, but the Jackets are still allowing 11.52 high-danger scoring chances (22nd) and 2.63 expected goals against (26th) per 60 minutes at 5-on-5.

Merzlikins has been the difference, though, as the Jackets' goaltenders have a .928 SV% on high-danger opportunities to start the season.

The Jackets were never expected to knock anybody's socks off going forward, so it's no surprise that the team is in the middle of the pack averaging 2.75 goals per game. The team also ranks in the bottom 10 in xGF/60 and high-danger chances created.

Columbus is getting just enough offense thanks to contributions from Boone Jenner (five goals), Patrik Laine (eight points), Oliver Bjorkstrand (10 points) and Jakub Voracek (seven points).

Can Depleted Avalanche Find a Way to Click?

The Colorado Avalanche came into the season as the Stanley Cup Favorite and remain at the top of the oddsboard, despite a sluggish start. The Avs can't do much to control bad injury luck, so right now it's about keeping pace in the Central until they get healthy.

For Wednesday night, the team will be without No. 1 defenseman and power play quarterback Cale Makar and first-line winger Mikko Rantanen — another key piece on the PP.

Jonas Johansson will mind the cage for the Avs and he's been good in limited duty this season, but his -6.58 GSAx in eight games last season was a bit concerning.

Blue Jackets vs. Avalanche  Pick

Nathan MacKinnon hasn't been bad this year, but he has definitely not been the MacKinnon that we are used to seeing. The MVP candidate is returning from Covid and has not had his usual supporting cast, but it's still a bit surprising to see him with just one goal in his first six games.

As long as Merzlikins is in the net, the Jackets have a chance to steal two points against any team — even the Avalanche. He is the A-side in this goaltending matchup and the edge in net is enough for me to feel confident that Columbus can hang with Colorado.

The Jackets are a tough out, so I think a bet on them to cover the Puck Line (+1.5 goals) or win the game outright are both worth exploring, but Columbus has taken money already on Wednesday morning and moved down to +150, so it may be worth waiting on the market to see if that number ticks back up before placing a bet.

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