NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Panthers vs. Blue Jackets (Jan. 31)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Panthers vs. Blue Jackets (Jan. 31) article feature image

Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Jonathan Huberdeau.

  • The Florida Panthers are a huge favorite over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night, and the line has only grown over the last day. The Panthers have gone from -260 to -300 at DraftKings.
  • The over has also taken some action, moving from 6.5 with the over juiced at -110 to -130.
  • Get Nicholas Martin's full Panthers vs. Blue Jackets preview and pick below.

Panthers vs. Blue Jackets Odds

Panthers Odds-300
Blue Jackets Odds+250
Over/Under6.5 (-130/+110)
Time7 p.m. ET
TVNHL Network
Odds via DraftKings, updated at 4 p.m. ET. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

Columbus looks to fare better against the Panthers' lethal attack than it managed in Florida earlier in the month. The Blue Jackets were embarrassed 9-2. Columbus has managed back-to-back victories since then after Sunday night's win in Montreal.

Will it be able to avenge that humiliating defeat here at home?

Huberdeau Continues Dominance for Panthers

Florida continues to post stellar results and enters this one on yet another three-game win streak in which it has produced 14 goals. It would certainly love to keep cleaning up all the obtainable points early on this season with the Atlantic Division set to offer a nightmare 2 vs. 3 matchup in Round 1.

A dominant sixth-best 55.54 xGF% in the month of January certainly runs in line with its success, although a 2.85 xGA/60 is arguably a concern.

The Panthers' up-tempo style of play has a ton of people jumping on their bandwagon, as the lethal offensive group led by two of the league's elite in Jonathan Huberdeau and Alex Barkov continues to produce exciting contests.

Huberdeau's big month now has him leading the league in points at 62, while Barkov is well beyond a point per game having missed time due to injury. In behind that pairing is a wealth of support that can realistically allow the Panthers to continue this absurd offensive pace.

Anton Lundell, Sam Reinhart and Mason Marchment compose arguably the league's best third line and round out a top nine that has very legitimate cup aspirations this season.

Sergei Bobrovsky should likely start here and has been strong with a +22.2 goals saved above expected rating and a .921 save % throughout 31 games played this season.

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Blue Jackets Have Trended Downward

Columbus has pushed back with consecutive wins the last two times out, but looking towards a wider scope, it's hard to say that any sort of continued upward trend can be expected.

The Blue Jackets were outplayed handily at even strength Thursday vs. the Rangers but managed a win, before finding a big offensive output in Montreal Sunday night — something essentially every team in the league has managed as of late.

The Blue Jackets still hold a horrendous 36.97 expected goals for % over their last seven contests, the worst mark in the league by a decent margin.

Surely there are some positives looking forward, but this is a rebuilding year for the Blue Jackets, and it seems as the year has worn on that the talent is simply not there. That hot start after what seemed to be a very sharp training camp from coach Brad Larsen in his debut year seems to be wearing off.

The results have slowly trended downwards as the year has run along, and it's hard to see this group able to greatly change that trend with the defensive pieces on hand. I do, however, surely still see them as a mark above the true bottom feeders, as we saw last night.

The Blue Jackets hold the league's third-worst goals against per game this season at 3.57 and will receive a stiff test here against the Panthers.

Panthers vs. Blue Jackets Pick

More than in other sports, I love to point out that prior matchups hold little to no relevancy in the NHL — something we see every playoffs when we look towards series results compared to regular-season matchups.

But it's not overly surprising that this lethal Florida offense lit up Columbus in the first matchup 9-2. I think it's always going to be a very tall order for Columbus' suspect defensive play to keep this Panthers group in check.

It's a replicable result that this Panthers offense can completely expose a softer Blue Jackets defense, which is hardly even a slight on the Blue Jackets considering what the Panthers have done on average this season.

The over 6.5 at -130 will likely be a very popular and reasonable play as well, or the Panthers moneyline parlayed with the over, but I see more value in simply backing the Panthers to win by a reasonable margin at a plus number in this spot.

Columbus has posted the worst expected-goals-against mark in the league this month, and it will be opposed by the league's most lethal and up-tempo squad in the Panthers. Florida has scored a ton and won big often this month, covering the puck line in nine of 14 games (underdog at Carolina included), mainly in tougher spots than this.

There isn't much reason to look away from the obvious narrative that Florida should be able to continue its unreal start to the season with a solid win, and I think the Panthers are winning by two, more than 50% of the time. There is certainly value at +105 here, and I would play that down to -115. I expect the line to be worse closer to puck drop.

Pick: Florida Panthers -1.5 (+105)

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