NHL Odds, Prediction, Preview: Canadiens vs Blue Jackets (Wednesday, November 29)
Via Ben Jackson/Getty Images. Pictured: Boone Jenner #38 of the Columbus Blue Jackets celebrates with goaltender Elvis Merzlikins #90 of the Columbus Blue Jackets after defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 7-3 in a game at Nationwide Arena on November 22, 2023 in Columbus, Ohio.
Canadiens vs. Blue Jackets Odds
Here's everything you need to know about Canadiens vs Blue Jackets on Wednesday, Nov. 29 — our expert NHL prediction and preview.
Columbus has been one of the worst teams this campaign, but the Blue Jackets have won three of their last four games, including an impressive 5-2 victory over the mighty Bruins.
We'll keep Columbus' recent success in mind while previewing its upcoming contest and offering a Canadiens vs. Blue Jackets prediction.
Montreal obviously isn't at Boston's level, but that doesn't mean the Canadiens are incapable of disrupting the Blue Jackets' hot streak. Montreal took two out of three contests against Columbus last season and bested the Blue Jackets again on Oct. 26 by earning a 4-3 overtime victory that was highlighted by a three-point effort from Cole Caufield, including the winning goal in overtime.
Caufield leading the Canadiens is not an unusual story. The 22-year-old has six goals and 17 points in 21 contests this campaign, putting him well on his way to surpassing his career high of 46 points set in 2021-22. Nick Suzuki also featured prominently in that contest versus Columbus by providing a goal and two assists, and he's enjoyed the same success as Caufield throughout the campaign with six goals and 17 points of his own.
While those two young forwards give Canadiens fans a reason to be optimistic about the future, Montreal hasn't built up enough support around them yet. No other Montreal forward has crossed the 15-point milestone.
Losing Kirby Dach (knee) didn't help, but Montreal also hasn't gotten enough out of Sean Monahan recently. Although his shift from Calgary to Montreal has revitalized his career, the 29-year-old has been held off the scoresheet for six straight contests. Getting him going is vital for Montreal, which ranks 28th offensively with 2.71 goals per game due to a lack of secondary scoring.
In net, Montreal is expected to turn to Sam Montembeault, who can be best described as acceptable with his 4-3-1 record, 2.81 GAA and .908 save percentage in nine contests. He did make 33 saves in the Canadiens' win against the Blue Jackets early this campaign but will likely only win Wednesday night if he gets at least a few goals of offensive support.
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Even with Monahan struggling and Montreal's forward corps underwhelming overall, the Canadiens still might have an edge on offense against Columbus because the Blue Jackets are the second-worst squad defensively with a xGA of 78.69, besting just San Jose in that regard.
Goaltenders Spencer Martin and Elvis Merzlikins have done okay, but neither has done well enough to bail out the defense. Combined they have a Goals Saved Above Expected of 1.0, which suggests they've been just slightly above average with a combined 3.14 GAA and .906 save percentage. Merzlikins has done slightly better than Martin, but the gap isn't large enough to be meaningful.
The two goaltenders have performed better recently as they have allowed nine goals over the last four contests. That's not likely to last, but perhaps the hot spell can extend at least one more game.
Speaking of Blue Jackets on a roll, keep an eye on Boone Jenner, who has four goals and six points over his last five contests. That's pushed him up to 11 markers through 23 contests, which puts the 30-year-old on track to have the best goal-scoring pace of his career. It's largely due to an uptick in shooting percentage (16.4 compared to his career average of 10.6), so his current success might not be sustained, but Columbus can enjoy it while it lasts.
If he does cool down, the Blue Jackets will struggle to make up the difference. They're in a three-way tie for 23rd offensively with 2.91 goals per game, even with Jenner arguably overperforming.
It'd help if Patrik Laine, who has three goals and five points through 13 contests, started to play like he has in past campaigns, but first, he needs to be more aggressive with the puck. He's averaging just 2.38 shots per game, which is way below his pace of 3.35 from last campaign.
If there's a silver lining, it's that he typically does well against Montreal, scoring eight goals and 12 points over 10 career contests, so maybe a game against the Canadiens is what he needs to get back on track.
With the game at home and Columbus being hot, the Blue Jackets are in a position that's been rare for them this season: they're significant favorites, based on FanDuel's moneyline.
That's fair because neither team is good, but the Blue Jackets are slightly better under normal circumstances and have a few advantages to push them further ahead tonight.
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I don't feel so confident in Columbus that I'd recommend taking the squad on the puck line where the spread is 1.5 goals in favor of Montreal, but there is a third option that comes with less risk than the puck line while still offering a better payout than the moneyline: FanDuel's 60-Minute Moneyline at +110.
It is a bet that you lose if the contest goes to overtime, but the increased potential return is high enough to offset that additional risk.