Tuesday NHL Odds, Picks, Prediction: Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Betting Preview
Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Tristan Jarry
- The Pittsburgh Penguins are big home favorites on Tuesday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
- The Blue Jackets have been overachieving, but can they keep up with the powerful Penguins?
- Nicholas Martin breaks down the game below and delivers his top pick.
Blue Jackets vs. Penguins Odds
|Blue Jackets Odds||+240|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
The Columbus Blue Jackets continue to overachieved expectations in a rebuilding season, and of late have even cleaned up their defensive play while winning four of their last five.
Will they continue to show progress against a high-powered Penguins?
Penguins Making a Push
Pittsburgh is 7-2-1 over its last 10 games and very much in the thick of the Stanley Cup race. General manager Ron Hextall recognized that in making a big splash on Monday.
The Penguins acquired one of the more notable pieces available at the trade deadline in forward Rickard Rakell from the Ducks, adding to an already very talented offensive core.
The Penguins paid a high price for Rakell, and while he might not move the needle in the type of way you might expect from a move like this, it won’t be imperative for Rakell to do everything given the group he’s joining.
The Penguins have been dominant in the month of March, playing to a 60.28 expected goals rate throughout eight games, and they have generated a lot of chances for, with a 4.01 xGF/60 mark over that time.
Many have been waiting for the day when the Penguins are finally not a meaningful threat in the East, but with Bryan Rust, Jake Guentzel and several others supporting the two-headed monster of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, it’s easy to see why the results are still positive. Especially given the strong defensive play again this year.
We saw the Penguins fall apart in the playoffs last year mainly due to some poor play from Tristan Jarry, but Jarry has answered with a big bounce-back season, and should likely get the start Tuesday.
Jarry has played to a +15.6 goals saved above expected rating with a .922 save % throughout 49 games.
Blue Jackets Overachieving
Columbus is well on its way to smashing a preseason over/under betting line of 76.5 points, and this group can certainly be proud of what has been accomplished this year.
With that said, it this club has overachieved with regards to the actual amount of wins generated.
The Blue Jackets hold a -24 goal differential with an above .500 record. To put into context, the Islanders hold just a -4 differential. That lowly mark is to be expected as Columbus has the league’s fourth-worst expected goal differential at -38.41 this season, including holding the league’s highest expected goals against mark.
So while Columbus has cleaned its defensive play up to an extent this month with a just-below-average expected goals against mark per 60 of 3.13, I am not counting on that success continuing as there is little clear causation toward the improvement over a small sample size.
Elvis Merzlikins will likely get the start here for Columbus, and has posted middling results.
Blue Jackets vs. Penguins Pick
Despite the improved play from the Blue Jackets’ defense, the actual results have still featured a ton of pucks ending up in the back of the net, as they have allowed 3.6 goals against per game over their last 10 contests. Many of those have come in spots far more favorable than a trip in to Pittsburgh to face the rested Penguins.
Pittsburgh has generated a ton of chances offensively of late, and has played to the second-highest expected goals for per/60 rate in March. The offensive talents on hand suggest that is no fluke, and we should see them able to generate a solid offensive output against Merzlikins and a leaky Blue Jackets defense.
My favorite play is Single Game parlay combining Pittsburgh on the moneyline with the total clearing 6.5 goals, which is priced at +164 at the time of writing. If you wanted to play it a little safer, the over seems like a very solid option, but I’m imagining the Penguins winning a high-scoring contest more often than that long number suggests.
Pick: Single Game Parlay — Pittsburgh ML & Total Over 6.5 Goals +164 (Play to +140)