NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Ducks vs. Blue Jackets (Dec. 9)
Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Anaheim Ducks standouts Trevor Zegras, left, and Sonny Milano.
Ducks vs. Blue Jackets Odds
|Blue Jackets Odds||-105|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
Fresh off lighting the hockey world on fire with a potential goal of the year candidate, Trevor Zegras and the Anaheim Ducks will travel in to Columbus on Thursday, looking to continue the hunt for a surprising playoff berth out of the NHL’s Pacific Division.
Columbus is in a similar boat, surprising many thus far with its 13-11-0 record in a very strong Metropolitan Division, but a 4-6-0 stretch in its last 10 games have seen the group fall out of the playoff picture.
That said, will Columbus take a step in the right direction here against a very exciting young Anaheim team and build on a dominant 9-3-0 mark at home this season?
Now short Captain Ryan Getzlaf, the Ducks continue to carry out a surprising march towards the postseason, with the spotlight solely on young talents such as Zegras, Sonny Milano and Jamie Drysdale, who are simply leading the charge aren’t your average rookies.
We can safely say that top line will continue to post strong offensive results, but the question for me is how much support lies in behind them and whether the offensive results seen so far are sustainable.
Troy Terry has fallen back to earth of late after his blistering start, with only four points in nine contests, and is struggling more with Getzlaf out of the lineup. Terry, Vinni Lettieri and Sam Steel were outplayed by Buffalo, generating nothing of substance and own a 42% xGF together this season.
Adam Henrique will remain out for Anaheim, and has quietly produced very well at age of 31 with 16 points in 24 games.
John Gibson will look to build on what has been just a so-so start to the season, specifically by his standards, with a .914 save percentage and -3.5 goals saved above expected rating across 20 games.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Having come flying out the gates, Columbus has faltered of late, as many might have expected, with a mark of 4-6-0 in their last 10 games and a 37.89 xGF% during that stretch.
At 5-on-5, the team has generated just 1.73 xGF/60 minutes over that time frame and are in turn looking more like the team many predicted. And when you look at the roster, it isn’t overly surprising to see some regression coming with little in the way of elite talents up front, although I do still like a number of depth pieces they have to offer.
They hold a back-end that’s headlined by Zach Werenski, which features a number of strong skaters, and I think the puck-movement is likely to be somewhat stronger than we have seen at times going forward.
Elvis Merzlikins has been very strong so far this season in goal, with a .915 save % and +2.5 GSAx rating throughout 15 games played, and should start.
Ducks vs. Blue Jackets Pick
When on their game, I still feel Columbus’ strengths generate a sweltering team game preventing glaring breakdowns and allowing Merzlikins a chance to shine, as its offensive talent doesn’t lend itself to playing in shootouts.
Although both of these offenses are currently in the top third of the league, this game sets up as a sneaky good spot to back the under, as I feel both are likely to regress.
The Ducks have seen strong offensive production of late, but ultimately even with Zegras and Milano proving to lead a legitimate top line, I still don’t believe this group continues this level of offensive success.
And I think this road spot lends itself to a lower offensive total, especially without Getzlaf and Adam Henrique, who are quietly both top-five point producers on the team.
Similarly, Columbus had the 11th-ranked offense that has scored more goals than expected (2.74) and I don’t like their chances to hang a big total on the Ducks.
I believe we will see their 3.25 goals/game mark in the early going of this season regress as we move along toward the postseason.
As the year wears on I think both teams will feature in less games offering a total of six goals, and more offering a line of 5.5 goals. Basically, the previous results are lending us a generous line here in my opinion.
As well, Columbus have allowed more goals against than expected, and considering I have felt its defensive play has looked mainly reasonable, I think we will see its goals against totals decrease down the stretch.
Getting that half goal is crucial, especially in spots like this where I feel a lot of the time we could see a 3-2 scoreline being busted on a late empty netter, which make the pick become a push.
Both teams feature excellent goaltenders in Merzlikins and John Gibson, who will draw starts, and I think that this will be a hard-fought contest offering less in the way of easy breakdowns.
I like the total staying under six here at -110, and I would play that down to -125 odds as my top pick.
Pick: Total Under 6 Goals (-110)