Canadiens vs. Blue Jackets Odds, Picks, Predictions: Total Has Value on Wednesday
Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Elvis Merzilkins.
- The Blue Jackets are favored over the Canadiens in Wednesday night NHL action, as both teams play out the string of the regular season.
- Carol Schram is targeting the total in this one, counting on both teams to tighten up their defense a bit.
- Get her full Canadiens vs. Blue Jackets pick and preview below.
Canadiens vs. Blue Jackets Odds
|Blue Jackets Odds||-185|
|Over/Under||6.5 (-105 / -115)|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
On the brink of playoff elimination for the second-straight year, the Columbus Blue Jackets will be looking to deliver a positive moment for their fans when they host the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday at Nationwide Arena.
The Blue Jackets are 18-15-4 on home ice for the season, but have gone 0-2-1 in their last three home games. With a victory, they’ll sweep their three-game season series against the Canadiens, after a pair of regulation wins at Bell Centre earlier this year.
Here’s the latest on both teams, and your best bet for the game.
Canadiens Struggling During Busy Period
The Canadiens have improved since Martin St. Louis took over behind the bench in mid-February. Under his watch, they’re .500, with a record of 12-12-4.
Even so, Montreal remains locked in a battle with Arizona and Seattle for last place overall and the best odds in this spring’s draft lottery. And while veteran netminder Jake Allen went 4-4-2 after returning from a two-month injury absence, he suffered a groin injury on Saturday which has now ruled him out for the rest of the season.
So while the Canadiens are playing four games in six nights this week, they’ll likely lean heavily on Sam Montembeault in the crease. The 25-year-old was charged with the losses in Toronto on Saturday and in Winnipeg on Monday, dropping his record for the season to 7-15-6, and carries a rating of -11.4 goals saved above expected for the year.
It remains to be seen whether Carey Price will be well enough to start a game for Montreal at some point. He has been practicing with his teammates for the last few weeks and even traveled with them last week, but the club still hasn’t given any indication when he might get into the lineup.
After missing the last three games with an ankle injury, defense prospect Justin Barron has also been ruled out for the rest of the season. Forward Jonathan Drouin is also out for the year.
The Canadiens come into Wednesday’s game on a two-game losing streak, and with a record of 3-6-1 in their last 10 games.
They have improved their offense since St. Louis took over and are now averaging 3.14 goals per game, and Cole Caufield’s 17 goals in 29 games have him in the top 10 in the NHL for that period. But Montreal’s special teams are still dismal and they’re prone to giving up shorthanded goals.
Looking deeper into their possession stats, their expected goals rate at 5-on-5 is third-worst in the league for the season, at 44.99%. It has improved only fractionally under St. Louis, to 45.09%.
Rested Blue Jackets Riding High
The Blue Jackets will be coming into Wednesday’s game on a high note, following a rare three-day rest break. On Saturday night, Jack Rosvolic’s hat-trick goal gave the club a 5-4 overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena.
Elvis Merzlikins had a strong game in Detroit, named third star after making 34 saves. But the Blue Jackets’ once-solid power play has fallen into a major drought. It went 0-for-5 on Saturday and has now gone eight games without producing a goal with the man advantage. The good news is that the Columbus penalty kill has been perfect for the last four games.
This week’s extra days off could benefit Merzlikins as much as any Columbus player. Since missing one game with a back issue on March 26, the goaltender has made nine straight starts. He has picked up wins in two of his last three games, though he’s at -6.3 goals saved above expected for the season.
Basically, when Merzlikins has been healthy, he has been playing. With Joonas Korpisalo sidelined after undergoing season-ending hip surgery, J.F. Berube is currently backing up. But he hasn’t seen a minute of game action since his four-game run in February. With the light schedule this week, that’s unlikely to change.
For the season, the Blue Jackets’ possession numbers are almost identical to the Canadiens’. They’re also among the league’s worst defensive sides at 5-on-5, and their expected goals rate for the year is 45.00%.
Columbus also has a long list of injured forwards, headlined by captain Boone Jenner. But after 12th-overall draft pick Cole Sillinger stepped straight into the NHL and has acquitted himself well this season, the Blue Jackets have also just brought in a second 2021 first-rounder, forward Kent Johnson. The fifth-overall pick is expected to debut on Wednesday along with his University of Michigan teammate Nick Blankenburg, a defenseman who just inked a free-agent contract with Columbus.
Canadiens vs. Blue Jackets Pick
Given the defensive porousness on both sides of this matchup, it’s tempting to think that Wednesday’s game will be a high-scoring affair. But both teams’ power plays have been dismal lately. And in net, Montembeault looked very strong against Winnipeg on Monday, while Merzlikins can steal the show when he’s on his game. A little rest this week could help him elevate his game even more.
In their two head-to-head matchups in Montreal earlier this season, Columbus won 6-3 with Korpisalo in net, then 2-1 in front of Merzlikins.
The rested Blue Jackets look set to sweep the season series, but there isn’t much incentive to bet the home side at -185 on the money line. The greater value lies with the under.
Pick: Under 6.5 (-115); bet down to -125