NHL Odds, Pick, Prediction: Bruins vs. Blue Jackets (March 5)
Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Boston Bruins teammates Brad Marchand, left, and Patrice Bergeron.
- The Boston Bruins go up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Saturday's NHL action.
- The Blue Jackets will retire club legend Rick Nash's number, but analyst Nicholas Martin doesn't think that will give them an edge against the powerful Bruins.
- Check out below where he's found betting value on Boston ahead of this showdown.
Bruins vs. Blue Jackets Odds
|Blue Jackets Odds||+200|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
Columbus will get right back at it after playing Los Angeles on Friday, but could see a little extra pep in its step Saturday as it looks to play well when the team honors legend Rick Nash, who will see his No. 61 sweater raised to the rafters prior to this contest.
However, will that be enough to help them steal a victory from a Boston team that has been in truly dominant form of late, with a number of statement victories over a 7-2-1 run?
The Bruins will look to cap off what has been a successful 4-1-0 road trip with a win, and look to build on what has been an excellent run of play, with the club’s current form offering very little to nitpick at.
Over the last stretch of play, the Bruins have seen more of the depth pieces up front chip in some better offensive nights, such as Jake Debrusk, Craig Smith and Charlie Coyle.
So, considering the team has continued to post near-league best defensive play and seen the top three pieces up front in Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak continue to dominate, it’s not surprising the results have been excellent of late with no real holes to nitpick at.
Over their 7-2-1 run, the Bruins have continued to hold the opposition to very little in the way of quality scoring chances, holding the league’s best expected goals against per 60 rate of 2.25 over that time, and generating effectively at the other end for a stellar 58.13 expected-goals rate.
The Bruins have one of the best top two defensive pairings, and that strength should continue to allow them to suppress chances at a great rate, and are supported by a number of talented two-way forwards up front, with Marchand and Bergeron setting the tone in that regard.
It’s unclear whether or not we will see Linus Ullmark draw back in for this one or the Bruins ride Jeremy Swayman, who has clearly been a little sharper.
Swayman has built upon a great start to his career last season, and holds a +14.1 goals saved above expected rating with a .930 save % throughout 25 games played, while Ullmark has fared considerably worse with a -5.6 GSAx and a .908 save % throughout 28 contests.
Boston should enter this one with no meaningful roster losses.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets’ recent tear has them somewhat in the playoff mix amid Washington’s scuffles, and this year has the roster showing a lot of promise.
However, I wouldn’t expect the results to continue, as it seems Columbus has managed to outscore expectations on route to a solid record of late, but still hold a well below average expected goals rate of 46.48 this season.
Moving forward, I feel it’s far to say the roster likely doesn’t hold the upside to produce this level of results either, even as someone who from the get-go has argued the Blue Jackets would not be clumped anywhere near league bottom.
With Elvis Merzlikins confirmed to start against Los Angeles, we will likely see J.F. Berube get the nod. Berube holds a +3.1 goals saved above expected rating with a .924 save % throughout four starts this season.
While those are strong numbers and predicting play in goal can be tough, it’s a tiny sample size and Berube has posted a below .900 save % 3 years in a row in the AH. So, with no disrespect, I find it hard to imagine he continues to post such good results, but I will happily acknowledge that returning to the NHL after such a long hiatus and succeeding is special.
Bruins vs. Blue Jackets Pick
The retiring of Nash’s jersey is truly a massive moment in Blue Jackets history, as they pay homage to an excellent person who is the clearcut most important player the franchise has ever seen.
Yet, that extra incentive for the Blue Jackets to win aside, this is a very favorable matchup for the Bruins, who have shown some improved offensive play as of late to go alongside their consistently stellar defensive work.
Earlier this year, we saw both of Henrik Lundqvist and Sergei Zubov’s numbers retired by the Rangers and Stars respectively, and despite both those club’s holding excellent home records, they still fell in each contest.
So, my point is not to say this actually means it’s more likely Boston win this game because of that narrative, but that these jersey retirement nights likely won’t dictate a meaningful edge to either side over a large sample.
In a spot where Boston should very likely be able to control far more of the play and continue their offensive upswing, I see value backing Boston to win in regulation at -115 odds.
Pick: Boston 3-Way ML (-115 | Play to -135)
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