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NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Oilers vs. Blue Jackets (April 24)

NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Oilers vs. Blue Jackets (April 24) article feature image
Credit:

Codie McLachlan/Getty Images. Pictured: Connor McDavid.

  • The Oilers are huge favorites on Sunday afternoon in Columbus.
  • The Blue Jackets have been struggling of late against opponents who aren't nearly as good as Edmonton.
  • Check out Nicholas Martin's preview for the game and betting pick below.

Oilers vs. Blue Jackets Odds

Oilers Odds -250
Blue Jackets Odds +200
Over/Under 6.5 (-125 / +105)
Time 1 p.m. ET
TV ESPN+
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

Scorching-hot Edmonton heads into Columbus looking to build on its 11-1-1 tear, as Connor McDavid and crew look to tune up for what will hopefully be a lengthy postseason run.

The Oilers will face a shorthanded Blue Jackets group that has lost four straight and seen its play regress all season.

Can Edmonton avoid a letdown Sunday?

Elite Oilers Trending Upward

Edmonton’s tremendous record under head coach Jay Woodcroft has it on the cusp of locking up home-ice advantage to open the playoffs. All the Oilers need for that is two points from this game.

The Oilers’ play under Woodcroft has been far better altogether, and we have seen them take it to another level of late. Defensively, the play has looked far sharper, which has allowed Mike Smith to settle into quite a groove between the pipes.

Edmonton has played to a 53.25 expected goals for percentage (xGF%) over its last 10 contests, which has included a number of very dominant efforts over good sides. The Oilers have played Colorado twice very effectively this month, losing one in a shootout and then winning 6-3 on Friday.

Back-to-back 4-0 shutout wins over Nashville and Vegas last week were also notably impressive. The Oilers’ current play certainly has me concerned about some of my takes that this group had no chance to actually win a cup this season.

This is a matchup in which I think we will see McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and the Oilers’ other offensive talents thrive. The current makeup of their top three lines offensively will likely prove very hard for this depleted, young Blue Jackets team to keep in check.

It’s unclear whether we will see Smith given a chance to continue his excellent run of play here, or if Edmonton opts for Mikko Koskinen in the net. To me, the difference is more marginal than the recent results may suggest.

Smith has thrived of late and is clearly been making the saves he is supposed to and then some. However, I feel his recent results have been quite a comment toward how effectively this Oilers group has truly been defending, as well.

Smith has now played to a +3.9 Goals Saved Above Expected ratings (GSAx) and .913 save percentage after his recent tear, while Mikko Koskinen holds a -9.4 GSAx and 902 save percentage.

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Can Columbus Contain Edmonton’s Attack?

Columbus will limp into this game in the midst of a four-game losing streak that has come against well-below-average competition in the Senators, Sharks, Ducks and Kings.

Dating back to April 5, the Blue Jackets have played eight games with Los Angeles being the closest opponent to the playoffs. Even playing through a notably easy scheduling stretch, the Blue Jackets have played to just a 46.3 xGF%, and allowed a high 3.29 expected goals allowed per 60 minutes (xGA/60). That could be quite a concern here, as Columbus looks to lock down an attack that’s beyond anything this group has seen of late.

Having top defensemen and the team’s best skater altogether in Zach Werenski on the sidelines certainly has worsened the situation, and Werenski will remain out here. Captain Boone Jenner, Patrik Laine and possibly Adam Boqvist will also be notable absentees.

Elvis Merzlikins will likely start in goal for the Blue Jackets. He has played to a +0.2 GSAx rating and .906 save percentage in 55 games this season.

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Oilers vs. Blue Jackets Pick

Edmonton has been in far better form in all areas of the ice of late. Although it’s not necessarily an important game, I think we will see them deliver another great effort.

Offensively, this Oilers group is very hard to keep under wraps, and this looks like a horrible matchup for a shorthanded Columbus team that has allowed a lot of goals all season.

The pieces simply aren’t there for Columbus to hold the Oilers’ stars to a low output very often. It would take one of the Blue Jackets’ best defensive efforts of the season to see them contain Edmonton.

I see Edmonton winning this game by two or more enough of the time to have value at that price.

Pick: Edmonton Oilers -1.5 -105 (Play to -115)

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