Thursday NHL Odds, Pick, Prediction: Columbus Blue Jackets vs. New Jersey Devils Betting Preview
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images. Pictured: Jack Hughes.
- A pair of struggling defenses face off when the Devils (-130) host the Blue Jackets.
- New Jersey has some young promise in attack, although the back end and injuries have held it back.
- Carol Schram breaks down the matchup below and where bettors can find value.
Blue Jackets vs. Devils Odds
|Blue Jackets Odds||+110|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
A pair of Metropolitan Division rivals, the Columbus Blues Jackets and New Jersey Devils will kick off a back-to-back series at the Prudential Center on Thursday, with the rematch set for Saturday in Ohio.
Both teams are sitting at 31 points so far for the season, although the Blue Jackets have played three fewer games. And while the Devils have shown some promise since returning from their holiday break, both clubs are struggling with key injuries, especially on the back end.
Here’s why that means you should target the total on Thursday night.
Blue Jackets Defense Struggling Mightily
So far, 2022 has been less than kind to the Blue Jackets. They were outscored 14-6 in their first two games of the new year — big losses to the powerhouse Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning on home ice, where they’re a solid 10-5-1 for the season.
Columbus has now lost four of its last five games, is 3-6-1 in its last 10 and sits five points shy of the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
When a team is giving up seven goals a game, goaltending is clearly an issue. Elvis Merzlikins and promising rookie Daniil Tarasov are currently on the injured list, leaving Joonas Korpisalo and J-F Berube to mind the store.
The Blue Jackets are also without their top defenseman, Zach Werenski, who’s in COVID protocol. Also, forward Alexandre Texier is sidelined with a non-COVID illness and rookie forward Cole Sillinger didn’t finish Tuesday’s game due to an injury, although he might be available against the Devils.
Most nights, the Blue Jackets are effective offensively. Lately, though, they haven’t been able to score enough to overcome their defensive weaknesses. That’s how they’ve ended up among the league’s cellar-dwellers in expected goals percent at 5-on-5, ranked 26th at 46.18%.
Even when the Blue Jackets do get a lead, they’re fragile. They’re tied with Ottawa for most losses when leading after one period (four) and lead the league with three losses when trailing after two.
Injuries Preventing Devils Getting in Rhythm
The Devils’ 3-7 record over their last 10 games is a little worse than the Blue Jackets’ mark. But there was some reason for optimism around the team coming out of the holiday break. Three straight victories included dramatic overtime wins over Edmonton and Washington. And Jack Hughes’ impressive talent was on full display as he logged eight points in those games, earning second star of the week honors.
But every time the Devils seem to gain a little traction, injury issues beat them back down. Now, it’s a broken jaw for top defenseman Dougie Hamilton and forwards Pavel Zacha and Yegor Sharangovich placed in COVID protocol.
Captain Nico Hischier missed Tuesday’s 5-3 loss in Boston with a lower-body injury, but could be available to play against Columbus. He had looked strong in his three games since returning from COVID protocol, with four points including the overtime game-winner against the Capitals.
Like Columbus, New Jersey’s goaltending situation is also suspect. Mackenzie Blackwood sits at -7.8 goals saved above expected for the season to date, and will be the No. 1 netminder for the foreseeable future now that Jonathan Bernier is officially out for the year following hip surgery. That’s well below the Blue Jackets’ Korpisalo (-4.8). But despite his 3.32 goals-against average and .895 save percentage, Blackwood boasts a winning record this season. He’s 8-7-3 for the year.
Blue Jackets vs. Devils Pick
The Blue Jackets’ goaltending might be the bigger worry right now, but the Devils have now allowed three goals or more in 10 straight games. That’s the kind of trend that can catch a bettor’s eye.
New Jersey has also scored three or more in its last four games. And while the Blue Jackets haven’t been quite as offensively consistent of late, Gustav Nyquist has a hot hand, with four points in his last two games. Patrik Laine could also be set to break out in his fourth game back from injury, with just one goal to show for his efforts so far.
With both teams facing questions about their netminding and missing their best defenseman, this game looks like a terrific opportunity to play the over. As of Wednesday afternoon, PointsBet is offering some decent odds, at -115, for more than six goals.
Pick: Over 6 goals (-115)