Ducks vs Blue Jackets NHL Odds, Picks, Predictions
Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Boone Jenner #38 of the Columbus Blue Jackets celebrates his goal with teammates
- The Anaheim Ducks continue their road trip with a Thursday trip to Columbus.
- This isn't the most intriguing game on the NHL slate, but there's still value to be had.
- Carol Schram breaks down the matchup and offers up her best bet below.
Ducks vs. Blue Jackets Odds
|Blue Jackets Odds||-144|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
It’s a battle for NHL basement. The Anaheim Ducks’ six-game road trip touches down at Nationwide Arena for a Thursday date with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Ducks, Blue Jackets and Chicago Blackhawks are the frontrunners for last place in the standings and have the best odds of winning the 2023 draft lottery.
At first glance, this looks like an even matchup. Here’s the latest on both teams, and your best bet for the game.
With a 12-28-5 record and 29 points in 45 games, the Ducks are quickly hurtling toward missing the playoffs and landing a top-10 draft pick for the fifth straight season. Averaging a league-low 2.27 goals per game and giving up an NHL-high 4.18, it’s no wonder the Ducks have the worst goal differential in the league (-85). The Ducks are tied with Chicago for the fewest wins (12) and just four of those have come within 60 minutes. Both of Anaheim’s regulation road wins came north of border, against Montreal and Edmonton.
The Ducks’ expected goal share at 5-on-5 is also worst in the league (39.30%) and both special teams are in the bottom five. Anaheim allows a league-high 39 shots per game, which has starter John Gibson sitting with a 4.14 goals-against average, despite a not-terrible .895 save percentage.
Anaheim is dealing with a handful of injuries. Versatile forward Isac Lundestrom is close to returning from a fractured finger that has kept him out since early December, but promising young defenseman Jamie Drysdale is sidelined long term with a shoulder issue.
The Ducks are 0-4-1 in their past five games and are in the midst of a heavy six-game road trip. Gibson made his fourth-straight start in Anaheim’s 4-3 shootout loss in Pittsburgh on Monday, then Anthony Stolarz guarded the cage for Tuesday’s 5-2 loss in Philadelphia. Expect to see Gibson back between the pipes Thursday.
Columbus Blue Jackets
With one fewer game played than Anaheim, the Columbus Blue Jackets also have one fewer point and are 13-29-2. The Blue Jackets have the NHL’s second-worst goal differential (-65), allow the second-most shots (35.1) and are third-worst in both goals for and goals against. And in a year where power plays are up around the league, the Blue Jackets seemingly didn’t get the memo as they are last in the league with a 14.4% conversion rate.
Injuries have been a big problem for Columbus, especially the season-ending ones for big-minute defenseman Zach Werenski and veteran forward Jakub Voracek. The Blue Jackets are also missing forwards Yegor Chinakhov and Justin Danforth, defenseman Jake Bean and goalie Joonas Korpisalo.
The Blue Jackets are also in the midst of a busy week with lots of travel. They’ll be back on home ice Thursday after dropping a 3-1 decision to the New York Rangers on Monday, then falling 2-1 to the Nashville Predators on the road Tuesday. Columbus has lost seven of its past nine games in regulation, its last win coming a 4-3 game against Detroit last Saturday.
Ducks vs. Blue Jackets Pick
This is the first of two meetings between the Ducks and Blue Jackets this season. And whether they like it or not, somebody is going to skate away with two points.
Both Columbus and Anaheim are averaging an identical 28.9 shots on goal per game this season — tied for fifth fewest. But the porous defenses on both sides could make this an excellent night to consider backing a shot prop or two from either side. Troy Terry and Frank Vatrano are the most prolific shooters for Anaheim, with 125 shots each this season, while Johnny Gaudreau is at 117 for Columbus and Patrik Laine is not far behind with 107 in just 29 games played. The Blue Jackets generated a solid 40 shots against the Predators on Tuesday and 10 of those came from Laine, who has totaled 20 shots over his past three games.
With a solid, albeit unsuccessful, effort against Nashville, combined with Columbus’s 10-14-1 record on home ice, it appears the hosts will have the edge on Thursday. That’s reflected in the moneyline price of -150.
Given the Ducks’ struggles, it’s not unreasonable to back the Blue Jackets for a regulation win.
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