Blue Jackets vs. Sabres Odds, Pick, Prediction: Lay the Short Price With Columbus
Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Sean Kuraly.
- Updated Blue Jackets vs. Sabres odds list Columbus at -125 at DraftKings Sportsbook, up five cents from the opener last night.
- Nicholas Martin is backing the team with the rest advantage, overall talent edge and superior goaltending at what he believes is a reasonable price.
- Get his full Blue Jackets vs. Sabres preview and pick below.
Blue Jackets vs. Sabres Odds
|Blue Jackets Odds||-125|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL odds.|
Scuffling Buffalo seems to be falling into the natural regression towards league bottom that most expected, but it will look to get back in the win column as it hosts the Columbus Blue Jackets for its second game in as many nights.
Columbus needs to continue to take advantage of contests against lesser competition should the upstart young group hang around in the Eastern playoff race. Let’s breakdown why I feel Columbus is likely to continue that early trend here.
Blue Jackets are Strong, Even in a Rebuild
First-year head coach Brad Larsen has the Blue Jackets off to a solid 9-6-0 start to the season, and while we can expect them to regress to an extent, I continue to believe this club is far beyond complete cellar dwellers such as the Sabres.
I speculated in covering Columbus the first game of the season that the powerplay was an area quite likely to improve from last year’s disastrous numbers, as the unit offers some great pieces in Zach Werenski, and Oliver Bjorkstrand, amongst others.
Werenski is a tremendous quarterback at the top, while Bjorkstrand quietly has one of the NHL’s most lethal wrist shots, as well as a good half-wall guy in Jakub Voracek.
The unit currently owns a strong mark of 20.5% so far this season, and I believe they can sustain that high mark, even short an excellent shooter in Patrik Laine.
The penalty kill has been strong, as well, at 84.1%, good for 11th league wide.
Those strong special teams numbers have helped Columbus post a strong record through some modest 5-on-5 play, although a 49.23 xGF% at even strength is still average altogether.
However throughout November the Blue Jackets have even shown better at 5-on-5, with a strong 54.08 xGF% over seven games.
Altogether the Blue Jackets have been quite well run under general manager Jarmo Kekalainen, as he had Columbus skating as more of a legit contender than oft credited for years, but being stuck behind Washington and Pittsburgh left his club widely underrated, especially considering it’s not an overly attractive market to retain talent.
Now that the team is in somewhat of a rebuild, he continues to prove his worth, as well as the scouting department, as his handling of the Seth Jones situation looks very sharp, and recent draft picks Cole Sillinger and Yegor Chinakhov are showing very well on the big club now.
Drafted 12th overall last summer, Cole Sillinger appears likely to be one of the draft’s best selections, as he is already making an impact in the NHL this season for the Blue Jackets, posting eight points over his first 15 contests.
It is unclear whether Columbus will start Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo here. Ideally we will see a confirmation towards Merzlikins, who has been great in stopping 91.8 percent of shots and 3.6 goals saved above expected (GSAx).
Korpisalo is livable though, with a -0.0 (GSAx) rating and a poor .897 save percentage, which will likely trend upwards as the sample grows bigger.
Sabres Have Regressed to Low Expectations
As I continue to allude to when covering the Sabres, coach Don Granato must be pleased with the work rate and attention to detail for which his group has competed with most nights, but the sheer lack of talent the roster offers has began to show through.
The hot 5-0 start his club once enjoyed has now fallen to a 7-7-2 mark, and the team has began tracking towards the bottom of the standings as many expected.
I don’t think there are a lot of talking points worth continuing to go through towards the Sabres, as the club is obviously skating through a developmental year as it looks to finally get the rebuild done right.
With Dustin Tokarski likely to start vs. New York on Sunday, we should see third-stringer Aaron Dell here, as Craig Anderson remains sidelined due to concussion protocols.
Dell has struggled through his first two starts, stopping 86.1 percent of shots faced with a GSAx of -2.5. To look towards a bigger sample size, Dell stopped 85.7 percent of shots last season and is likely to continue below-average play at best this season.
Blue Jackets vs. Sabres Pick
Columbus has opened as a smaller favorite than I expected in this contest, skating at -115 against a poor Buffalo outfit set to play in New York Sunday night.
With Buffalo starting Dustin Tokarski Sunday night in New York, and with Craig Anderson likely to remain out, we will likely see third-stringer Aaron Dell in net, who as alluded to, has been below replacement level over his NHL career.
The Blue Jackets are altogether more talented than the Sabres, offering a considerable goaltending advantage, and are skating in a favorable scheduling spot here, as well as quite possibly facing a third-string goaltender.
As this season rolls along I fully expect Columbus to finish with considerably more wins than the Sabres, and I see value in backing a better Blue Jackets team to clean up two points here as it looks to continue its strong start to the season.
I will be locking this in prior to Buffalo’s contest Sunday, as I feel that closer to game time this line will sit at around -130 most places, and taking a good price now makes the most sense.
Pick: Columbus Blue Jackets -115 (DraftKings) | Play to -135