NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Jets vs. Blues (December 8)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Jets vs. Blues (December 8) article feature image

Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck

  • The Blues host the Jets in a battle of Central Division teams on Thursday night.
  • Each team is coming off a win, but our analyst thinks one side is clearly better than the other.
  • Carol Schram previews the game and shares her best bet below.

Jets vs. Blues Odds

Jets Odds-130
Blues Odds+106
Over/Under6 (-115/-105)
Time8 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

We've got a classic Central Division battle on tap Thursday as the Winnipeg Jets kick off a quick two-game road trip against the St. Louis Blues.

With a record of 12-14-0, the hosts have struggled to find consistent form this season. The Blues have just two wins in their past eight games and are kicking off an important three-game, all-divisional homestand on Thursday night.

The Jets have lost just two of their past eight games and head into Thursday's game tied with the Dallas Stars for first place in the Central Division (16-7-1).

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Winnipeg Jets

It has been a tumultuous 12 months for the Winnipeg Jets, who saw longtime head coach Paul Maurice leave his job last December. His replacement, Rick Bowness, shook up the on-ice leadership group during training camp and the Jets have been one of the biggest surprises in the NHL.

It starts with Connor Hellebuyck, who is back to the form that won him the Vezina Trophy in  2020. He's 13-5-1 and leads the NHL with 15.6 goals saved above expected.

The Jets also have the league's fourth-best penalty kill (83.3% success rate). So, despite being a middle-of-the-pack team at 5-on-5, with an expected goals share of 48.30%, Winnipeg has allowed the fourth-fewest goals per game (2.54) at a time when scoring is on the rise.

Offensively, the Jets' full-season numbers are more modest. But lately, they've been putting the puck in the net. Winnipeg has scored five or more goals in five of its past six games, and is also 7-for-19 (36.8%) on the power play in that span.

The Jets will be playing the first half of a back-to-back on Thursday night, so Hellebuyck will likely split the duties with backup David Rittich, who's more likely to face the Blackhawks.

On the injury front, the Jets' recent success has come despite the absence of forwards Nikolaj Ehlers and Mason Appleton and defenseman Logan Stanley. All three have been sidelined for several weeks.

St. Louis Blues

The biggest headline-maker around the Blues recently has been goaltender Jordan Binnington. On top of his aggressive outbursts toward opponents, he's wearing an .889 save percentage and 3.42 goals-against average this season. He's also given up at least three goals in each of his past six starts, and was pulled after allowing four goals on 17 shots in 21:51 of action in the Blues' 6-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.

On the second half of a back-to-back on Tuesday night, Thomas Greiss made his eighth appearance of the year for the Blues. He improved his record to 3-3-0 with a 7-4 win over the New YorkIslanders. Greiss is at -0.9 goals saved above expected this season, so it's possible Craig Berube will give him another look Thursday.

All told, the Blues are tied for 30th in goals against per game, and their penalty killing is now the worst in the league, with a success rate of just 64.8%. They don't take a lot of penalties, but have given up five goals in just eight times shorthanded over the last four games.

Offensively, St. Louis has picked up the pace from earlier in the season. But an average of 3.04 goals per game and a 22.9% power play isn't enough to overcome the defensive struggles currently plaguing the team.

On the injury front, defenseman Torey Krug and forward Pavel Buchnevich both missed Tuesday's win over the Islanders and are listed as day-to-day. Defensemen Marco Scandella and Scott Perunovich have both resumed skating as they recover from their injuries. Neither is expected back imminently.

Jets vs. Blues Pick

Though both teams are coming off wins, the Jets and the Blues are trending in opposite directions.

After they followed an eight-game losing streak with a seven-game winning streak earlier in the season, the Blues could conceivably be making their way back onto the winning track. But they do have a losing record on home ice (5-6-0) and the potential absences of Krug and Buchnevich are also a cause for concern.

The Blues and Jets have played each other once this year: a 4-0 home win for Winnipeg back on Oct. 24. The Jets have gotten even better since those early games — yet the oddsmakers have made them only slight favorites for Thursday's matchup.

As a result, there's no need to overthink this one. There's decent value available on this strong road dog.

Pick: Jets (-114) | Play Down to -125

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