Sabres vs Blue Jackets Preview, Prediction: NHL Odds For Friday, Feb. 23

Sabres vs Blue Jackets Preview, Prediction: NHL Odds For Friday, Feb. 23 article feature image

(Photo by Andrea Cardin/NHLI via Getty Images). Pictured: Boone Jenner.

Sabres vs. Blue Jackets Odds

Friday, Feb. 23
7 p.m. ET
NHL Network
Sabres Odds-160
Blue Jackets Odds+135
Over / Under
-125o / +105u
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute NHL odds here.

Here's everything you need to know about the Buffalo Sabres vs. Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday, February 23 – our expert NHL prediction and pick.

The Sabres will wrap up a two-game road trip with a visit to Columbus. They got off to a good start in Montreal on Wednesday, beating the Canadiens 3-2.

As for the Blue Jackets, they’re also feeling good following a 7-4 win in Anaheim on Wednesday. And after playing just one home game in more than a month, they'll be opening a two-game home stand against the Sabres.

The season series between the two teams is tied 1-1. While Buffalo has an eight-point edge in the standings and has been getting good goaltending, Columbus has shown some signs of life in recent games. 

Let's get into our Sabres vs. Blue Jackets prediction and pick, and dive into why the Blue Jackets offer some nice value here as plus-money home underdogs.

Buffalo Sabres

After missing the playoffs by a single point last season, the Sabres have taken a significant step backwards in 2023-24.

Inconsistency has been a major issue. Just last week, they beat the Los Angeles Kings 7-0, then lost 4-0 to the Florida Panthers two nights later. Buffalo hasn't put together a winning or losing streak that has been longer than two games since dropping four straight between Nov. 30 and Dec. 5. That makes it tough to know what to expect on any given night.

At 5-on-5, the Sabres rank 19th for the year, controlling 49.86% of expected goals, and their goaltending has ranked 22nd, with a .908 team save percentage. But Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has taken control of the crease and done good work recently. Since Jan. 11, he has started 13 of the Sabres’ 15 games, and while his record over that time is 7-6-0, he has a .929 save percentage and 1.87 goals-against average to go along with three shutouts. Luukkonen is doing his bit to keep his team in every game.

Over that same span, the Sabres have been averaging 2.8 goals per game, which is not enough to give the team a chance to win every night.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Also well below where they’d hoped to be this season, the Blue Jackets are in a state of flux now that longtime general manager Jarmo Kekäläinen has been relieved of his duties. They’re back from the West Coast after going 2-1-0 in California, and interim GM John Davidson made a minor trade Thursday.

Columbus also struggles with consistency. And while the team sometimes loses two or three games in a row, it hasn’t strung together back-to-back wins since late November. The Blue Jackets struggle most on defense, ranked 31st with 3.73 goals against per game, and are 25th in expected goals share at 5-on-5 at 47.07%.

In net, Elvis Merzļikins has continued to get most of the work and is likely to start Friday. He served as backup in Anaheim, but did get pressed into duty for four minutes in the second period. With a .900 save percentage and -0.9 goals saved above expected this year, he has performed close to replacement level within his environment.

With trade rumors swirling around him, Boone Jenner has played his best hockey of the year over the past five games, logging five goals and eight points. 

Just one injury for the Blue Jackets: Adam Fantilli remains sidelined after suffering a skate laceration just before the All-Star Break.

(North Carolina sports betting is set to launch soon. Get the latest news and timeline.)

Sabres vs. Blue Jackets

Betting Pick & Prediction

Friday's game will be just the second on home ice for the Blue Jackets in more than a month. And while they've established a worrisome pattern of letting leads slip away, they were able to stop the bleeding in Anaheim on Wednesday, regrouping after the Ducks came back to tie with four straight goals late in the second period, then putting the game away in the third.

That could be a huge confidence booster for a group that has dealt with more than its fair share of adversity. The oddsmakers have opened with the Blue Jackets as +120 underdogs for this matchup, and you can do better now close to puck drop.

Pick: Blue Jackets moneyline (+136 at DraftKings; Play to +105)

Phone With the Action App Open
The must-have app for NHL bettors
The best NHL betting scoreboard
Free picks from proven pros
Live win probabilities for your bets

How would you rate this article?

This site contains commercial content. We may be compensated for the links provided on this page. The content on this page is for informational purposes only. Action Network makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the information given or the outcome of any game or event.