NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Blackhawks vs. Blue Jackets (Jan. 11)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Blackhawks vs. Blue Jackets (Jan. 11) article feature image
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Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images. Pictured: Seth Jones

Blackhawks vs. Blue Jackets Odds

Blackhawks Odds -110
Blue Jackets Odds -110
Over/Under 6
Time 7 p.m. ET
TV ESPN+
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

Two teams that have faced their fair share of struggles this season square off in Columbus. The  Blue Jackets host the Chicago Blackhawks as they both look to snap out of a cold spell. While both teams are coming off a win, prior to the victories, they each went through significant losing streaks.

Chicago certainly has had a season to forget. Before their most recent win in Vegas, the Blackhawks went through a six-game losing streak dating back before the Christmas pause. Currently 10 points out of a playoff spot, it’s hard to see the Blackhawks make a run, but crazier things have happened.

Columbus is coming off a 4-3 victory against the Devils, but lost three in a row before. The Jackets aren’t struggling as poorly as Chicago, since they’re seven points out of a playoff spot, but going 3-6-1 in their last 10 games is not going to keep the Jackets in the hunt. They’ll look to build off their momentum from Saturday and make it two in a row.

A Lost Season for the Blackhawks 

Everything just seems to have gone wrong in Chicago. Aside from the obvious stars in Patrick Kane, Alex Debrincat and Seth Jones, just about everyone else has underperformed.

Captain Jonathan Toews hasn’t been the same since his year off, while Kirby Dach and Dylan Strome have also struggled. The Blackhawks seemed to have turned a corner when they fired Jeremy Colliton and replaced him with Derek King, but that is looking more and more like a dead-cat bounce with each passing game.

Surely, it’s no surprise that the Blackhawks are the worst team in expected goals per 60 minutes with a 1.77 xGF. Along with that low number, but they’re also the third-worst team at generating high-danger chances — behind the Islanders and Senators. Special teams, however, is where they get some sort of success, scoring at an 18.8 % clip. It’s not great, but it’s better than what they’re normally putting out there.

Marc-Andre Fleury has done the best he can do with what he’s been given. The Vezina winner is posting OK numbers on a poor team with a .910 SV% but a poor -8.7 Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx). Backup Kevin Lankinen is out on Covid protocol, so youngster Arvid Soderblom would be the backup.

Given that, I would expect to see Fleury starting tonight.


The Blue Jackets Came Back to Earth

Even with this rough stretch, the Blue Jackets still have a solid foundation to work on. They will be without Alex Texier due to Covid protocols, but they have leading scorer Oliver Bjorkstrand back, which will be a help. Behind Bjorkstrand is proven vet Jakub Voracek, captain Boone Jenner and Zach Werenski who are all capable players.

Before this poor stretch of 3-6-1, the Jackets were hanging in there with the playoff teams, and now look to push themselves back into the fold.

Believe it or not, but the Blue Jackets are a top 10 team in expected goals per 60. With an xGF of 2.60, you would think it’s mind boggling that they’re also a bottom 10 team in generating high danger scoring chances. It starts to make sense due to the poor power play they have, where they only score 16.3% of the time, which is seventh-worst in the league.

Starting goaltender Elvis Merzlikins has been out with injury since Jan. 1, however, he started practicing yesterday. Merzlikins started the season as the hottest goaltender in the league but slowly came back down to Earth. He’s currently posting a .907 SV% with a -0.7 GSAx. Should Merzlikins not start, look to Joonas Korpisalo. The Finnish netminder is posting an .886 SV% and a poor -4.4 GSAx.

Blackhawks vs. Blue Jackets Pick

Both of these teams have given up a ton of goals since the turn of the year, and I think that can continue in this matchup. With shaky defenses, and poor goaltending, I see value in betting the over.

Expect a shootout tonight with both Columbus and Chicago looking to get back on track.

Pick: Over 6

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