NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Blue Jackets vs. Senators (Mar. 16)

NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Blue Jackets vs. Senators (Mar. 16) article feature image

André Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Anton Forsberg.

  • The Senators host the Blue Jackets as home favorites on Monday night.
  • The Senators have lost consecutive home games, but is there value in this buy-low spot?
  • Carol Schram breaks down the game and gives her top pick, below.

Blue Jackets vs. Senators Odds

Blue Jackets Odds+125
Senators Odds-150
Over/Under6.5 (-105 / -115)
Time7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

After back-to-back losses to non-playoff teams on their current five-game homestand, the Ottawa Senators will look to get back into the win column when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday at Canadian Tire Centre.

The Blue Jackets are riding high following a 6-4 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday, which saw 18-year-old rookie Cole Sillinger record his first career NHL hat trick.

Here's more on both teams, and your best bet for Tuesday's matchup.

Columbus Blue Jackets

The Columbus Blue Jackets won't make the playoff this season. Nevertheless, their first year under new head coach Brad Larsen has to be considered somewhat successful.

With 63 points in 60 games so far, the Blue Jackets are back above .500 after finishing at the bottom of the Central Division last season. They've gotten younger, and seen players like Boone Jenner and Oliver Bjorkstrand take a step forward. Jakub Voracek has been a solid veteran presence in his return to Columbus, and youngsters like Sillinger and Yegor Chinakhov have shown promise.

But injuries have derailed a good deal of the team's progress, particularly in net. Jenner is currently sidelined with a back issue, Voracek is day-to-day with a knee problem, and young defenseman Adam Boqvist, who was acquired as part of the Seth Jones trade, has missed the last seven games with an upper-body issue.

Elvis Merzlikins has started seven of eight games for Columbus since coming back from a lower-body issue in late February. His season hasn't been great, with a .902 save percentage and -7.8 goals saved above expected. But he has won his last two starts, against Minnesota and Vegas.

The Blue Jackets' defensive issues go beyond goaltending. At 5-on-5, no team has allowed more shot attempts this season as measured by Corsi Against. Their 35.6 shots allowed per game are also a league high.

The Blue Jackets are decent penalty killers but overall, they surrender the third-highest average goals per game, at 3.67. They're tied for ninth in scoring, averaging 3.25 goals per game. So when their offense is clicking, they can run-and-gun their way to wins like they did against Vegas last Sunday. But when their scorers falter, it's tough to come up with two points.

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Ottawa Senators

Sixteen points behind Columbus in the overall standings, the Ottawa Senators' haven't managed to put together the breakthrough season they were hoping for after a strong finish to the lockout-shortened 2020-21 campaign.

Like Columbus, injuries have been a big part of what has held them back, especially in net. But Anton Forsberg has proven to be a reliable option, and has been confirmed by coach D.J. Smith for the start against Columbus on Wednesday. Forsberg has a record of 13-11-2 on the season for an Ottawa team that only has 21 total wins. His .916 save percentage and 5.5 goals saved above expected back up his value, though he did get lit up for six by the Chicago Blackhawks in his last start, on March 12.

Sidelined at the moment for Ottawa: goaltender Matt Murray and forward Drake Batherson, who is skating but not quite ready to return to action.

The Sens have a promising core of young forwards, led by Brady Tkachuk, Josh Norris and Tim Stutzle. But they're still struggling to be consistently effective, and wore that frustration visibly after their loss to Arizona on Monday.

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Blue Jackets vs. Senators Pick

When you match up two inconsistent teams, it's not easy to predict the result. Will the Senators redouble their efforts after disappointing losses to low-ranking Chicago and Arizona? Can the Blue Jackets build off the high they felt from their wins against Minnesota and Vegas?

With two teams that are quite porous defensively, you might be tempted to take the over. If so, proceed with caution — in their one earlier meeting this season, Ottawa edged Columbus 2-1 on the road on Jan. 23, with Forsberg earning the win and first-star honors.

Given his overall consistency, Forsberg is the key player when it comes to betting this matchup. He should provide solid netminding, while the Sens' forward group takes advantage of the Blue Jackets' defensive permissiveness to snap their losing streak.

Back the home favorite on the moneyline — and take a look around before you lay your wager. Ottawa's line opened at -113. As of Tuesday evening, some sites are still there.

In terms of value, I wouldn't go much further than DraftKings' current line of -135.

Pick: Senators -135 (play to -140)

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