Tonight marks my first free NHL pick of 2020, but I was happy to end my 2019 with another profit as I concluded a very nice month of January.
I released a pair of free NHL picks on New Year’s Eve, both on home underdogs, and a 1-1 split meant a profit on the night and a real nice one to be quite honest.
The losing pick came between the Maple Leafs and Wild. I had the Wild as +116 home underdogs in that one on the back of their impressive play at home this season up against a Leafs team that had struggled defensively of late.
However, the pick didn’t work out in a thorough 4-1 win for the Maple Leafs, starting our night with a one-unit loss.
However, things turned around for the better from there.
The Red Wings hosted the San Jose Sharks as big +156 underdogs at home, which was odd to me despite the Red Wings being the worst team in the NHL.
The Sharks are a bad road team, struggle to score on the road and struggle defensively away from home as well.
The offensive struggles showed through in this one as the Red Wings posted a rare shutout over the visiting Sharks and notched us a 1.56-unit profit on that pick thanks to a 2-0 win.
It was a nice way to end 2019 and I’ll look to get 2020 started on the right note on a busy Thursday night schedule!
Season Record: 64-54-1
Let’s take a look at this free NHL pick featuring the Blue Jackets vs. Bruins from the TD Garden in Boston!
Blue Jackets vs. Bruins Betting Odds
- Blue Jackets (+185)
- Bruins (-225)
- Blue Jackets +1.5 (-135)
- Bruins -1.5 (+115)
- Over 5.5 (-105)
- Under 5.5 (-115)
Blue Jackets vs. Bruins NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s take a look at each of these teams before I get into my final pick!
The Columbus Blue Jackets, perhaps aside from the Pittsburgh Penguins, are the most injury-ravaged team in the NHL.
The team is without key regulars all over the roster including Cam Atkinson, Josh Anderson, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Ryan Murray, Alexandre Texier, Marcus Nutivaara and Emil Bemstrom.
Now, they’re also without starting netminder Joonas Korpisalo for a minimum of four weeks after he was injured in a shootout loss to the Blackhawks last week.
Korpisalo fully hit his stride with a stout 1.94 GAA and .932 Sv% in 11 starts and 12 appearance in the month of December, but now it’s up to Elvis Merzlikins to keep the Blue Jackets close to the playoff race in his absence.
Merzlikins was successful in his first start since the injury when he stopped 36 of 37 Panthers shots for the win on Tuesday, however that start was his lone start of the season on home ice.
In eight road starts, the 25-year-old rookie has been torched to the tune of a 3.68 GAA and .879 Sv% on the season, something that’s got to be of grave concern moving forward.
With Korpisalo’s improvement between the pipes, the Blue Jackets improved to 17th with 3.22 goals against per game on the road, although goals have still been hard to come by on the road where their 2.56 goals per game ranks 22nd.
With Atkinson, Bjorkstrand and Anderson sidelined at the moment, it’s tough to see that number getting much better in the foreseeable future.
The good news is that the Jackets have been a good puck possession team on the road.
At 5v5 away from home, the Jackets rank 13th with a 49.67% Corsi For% (CF%) on the season, ninth with a 50.40% scoring chances for percentage (SCF%) and third with a 52.49% high-danger chances for percentage (HDCF%).
Their 27th-ranked 6.52% shooting percentage at 5v5 on the road as hurt their offense big-time.
Not helping matters has been their special teams.
Entering this one, the Jackets rank 20th with a 15.8% power play on the road and tied for 16th with a 77.8% mark on the penalty kill. The rankings themselves aren’t horrible, but the numbers are not good.
The Bruins saw their three-game winning streak snapped with a 3-2 shootout loss in New Jersey on Tuesday, a rare poor effort as they were also outshot 44-30 in that one against one of the NHL’s worst teams.
The loss was their sixth of their last 10 games as thoughts of them falling back into the pack in the Atlantic Division continue with the Maple Leafs and Lightning playing better of late.
Nonetheless, the Bruins will return home tonight where they’ve lost just once in regulation all season long as the TD Garden continues to be among the toughest places to play for visitors in the NHL.
The Bruins will enter this one ranked ninth with 3.43 goals per game on the season on home ice while their 2.35 goals against per game at checks in at fourth.
Despite the cold stretch over the last few weeks, the Bruins remain dynamite on special teams, a large key to their success.
The Bruins rank fourth with a 28.9% mark on the power play at home where their 87.8% mark on the penalty kill also checks in at fourth.
Potent special teams is key to success, however, goaltending is as well and the Bruins have gotten that in spades between Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak this season.
It’s Rask that will get the nod tonight after Halak took the loss in New Jersey on Tuesday.
He’s been brilliant regardless of venue, but he’s been better at home.
He’ll enter this one tonight sporting a 2.31 GAA and .923 Sv% on the season, but Rask has gone 10-0-5 at home to go along with a 2.22 GAA and .925 Sv% across 15 starts.
He fell off a bit in the month of December when he posted a 2.72 GAA and .906 Sv%, however Rask enters the New Year riding back-to-back wins while posting a .926 Sv% in that time.
The Blue Jackets have done well to put their injuries aside and continue to win hockey games, but I’m very concerned about Merzlikins’ work on the road this season and their ability to score against this Bruins back end.
Conversely, the Bruins might not be playing at full capacity right now, but they remain a dynamite home team and one that dominates both ends of special teams at home.
If we add it all up, the Bruins are the much better offensive team, the much better defensive team, much better on both ends of their special teams and certainly own the goaltending advantage here.
To me, this appears to be a very winnable game for the Bruins on the puckline here, and I think we’re getting attractive +115 odds for that to take place tonight.