Blue Jackets vs Flames NHL Odds, Picks, Predictions
Scott Taetsch/Getty Images. Pictured: Johnny Gaudreau of the Columbus Blue Jackets
- The Flames host the Blue Jackets for a Monday-night showdown in Calgary.
- It's Johnny Gaudreau's first game in Calgary since leaving the team and signing with Columbus.
- Below, Nicholas Martin explains why he expects it to be a high-scoring affair.
Blue Jackets vs. Flames Odds
|Blue Jackets Odds
|6.5 (-105 / -115)
|9 p.m. ET
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.
Johnny Gaudreau will return to Calgary for the first time since signing with Columbus last offseason, which will make for one of the more exciting dates in a lost campaign for the Blue Jackets, who will surely love to steal this one for their franchise player.
Gaudreau will likely receive a mixed reaction from Flames faithful, as many fans feel hard done by with the way his tenure ultimately ended.
Calgary's players may feel the same, and we should end up with a quietly fun and hotly contested matchup on Monday despite the fact that Calgary is priced as -365 favorites.
Gaudreau in No Rush With Columbus Blue Jackets
Things have been tough for Gaudreau in his inaugural season as a Blue Jacket, but what seems to be lost upon Flames fans is that Gaudreau surely did not sign long-term expecting to win this season.
Columbus is looking to build toward the future, and over the last five games, has actually trended into somewhat better form and has a number of young pieces inspiring hope.
Over the last five games, Columbus has played to a 53.24% expected goals for rating, which is an impressive mark even considering it came throughout a soft slate of games.
Nick Blankenburg, the 24-year-old defender, is somewhat of a complete unknown, but he's returned from the IR with four points in six contests, and he displayed strong puck movement, which had been lacking badly.
Captain Boone Jenner also returned up front, and it seems possible that his presence has helped to stabilize the young team's overall work rate.
Offensively, Columbus has been completely underwhelming this season, but the ability to produce goals is the area where the Blue Jackets roster projects to hold the most growth moving forward.
The Blue Jackets sit dead last in powerplay success rate at 14.9%, but with Gaudreau, Patrik Laine, a strong net-front presence in Boone Jenner, and an underrated shooter in Kirill Marchenko all finally healthy skating on the top unit, we should see far better production.
The greatest concern for Columbus this season has been the play of Elvis Merzlikins in goal, and so we'll want to keep an eye on his status.
Merzlikins is listed as probable, and he has played to a -24.3 GSAx rating and an .868 save % throughout 20 appearances.
Calgary Flames Poised for More Offense?
Calgary played one of its best games of the season Saturday at home versus the Lightning, and even with Andrei Vasilevskiy producing a number of 10-bell saves, the Flames managed to hang up a six spot.
Offensively, it's easy to make the case that Calgary is due for a ton of improvement this season, as it has generated chances at an elite level for much of the season but had a very hard time converting.
Over the last five contests, Calgary has generated 3.84 xGF/60 and has been rewarded with 3.60 goals for per game.
Calgary is perhaps producing lower shot quality than a number of truly elite offensive sides, but the fact that it has hit a league-leading 49 crossbars/posts this season is likely making the shot quality appear to be more of a concern.
Goaltenders Jacob Markstrom and Dan Vladar are pitted in a close battle for starts for the time being, and it is unclear which option will go tonight.
Vladar has played to a -3.1 GSAx rating and .904 save % throughout 17 appearances, while Markstrom owns a +2.0 GSAx and .895 save %.
Blue Jackets vs. Flames Pick
Columbus is showing enough scrappiness lately that backing Calgary as a gigantic favorite in this spot does not project to hold a lot of value. And I would actually lean toward backing the Jackets in some fashion, be it the puck-line or looking for a shocking upset.
Blue Jackets' game totals have trended somewhat low due to the fact that their offensive play has been extremely underwhelming, but I actually would argue the talent on hand should be capable of producing more as the season wears along.
Seeing Gaudreau and crew find a way to manage some offense tonight is realistic, and I think the Blue Jackets are displaying some better signs on that front recently.
Columbus likely will not keep what is currently an undervalued Calgary offense in check either, and it could be another long night for Merzlikins.
This is a good spot to back the game to go over 6.5, and I see value playing that down to -115.
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