I made a single free NHL pick last night and it hit as a winner in a game that featured the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks.
I had the Blackhawks on the puckline at +115 odds, and things did not look good early as the Red Wings built a 2-0 lead in the first period.
However, it was all Blackhawks from there as they scored a pair of second period goals to tie the game at two entering the third, another to take the lead near the midway point of the third and then they added the empty-netter with 20 seconds remaining that gave us the puckline winner.
I appreciate being on the right side of the empty-net game on that one and I’ll take the win and move onto tonight’s lone free NHL pick!
Season Record: 67-56-1
Now let’s take a look at this free NHL pick featuring the Blue Jackets vs. Kings from the Staples Center in Los Angeles!
Blue Jackets vs. Kings Betting Odds
- Blue Jackets (-103)
- Kings (-107)
- Blue Jackets -1.5 (+233)
- Kings +1.5 (-273)
- Over 5.5 (+107)
- Under 5.5 (-118)
Blue Jackets vs. Kings NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s take a look at each of these clubs before I get into my final pick!
Despite fielding a roster that is missing plenty of key regulars including No.1 goaltender Joonas Korpisalo, the Columbus Blue Jackets have won seven of their last 10 games to stay within arm’s length of a playoff spot in the east.
However, they are coming off a home loss to the lowly San Jose Sharks as -135 favorites on Saturday, a game where they managed just 23 shots on goal.
Despite their winning ways of late, offense has indeed been hard to come by as they have averaged just 2.33 goals per game over their last six and 2.20 goals per game over their last five.
They’ll enter tonight’s contest ranked 21st with just 2.53 goals per game on the road where their power play sits 22nd with a 15.3% clip on the season.
Despite Korpisalo lacking starting experience and backup Elvis Merzlikins being a rookie, the Blue Jackets have hung in there defensively, ranking 15th with 3.11 goals against per game on the road where they actually sport a +1.8 average shot differential.
As a result, the advanced possession metrics are pretty solid.
At 5v5 on the road, Columbus ranks 13th with a 49.39% Corsi For% (CF%), eighth with a 50.44% scoring chances for percentage (SCF%) and all the way up to third with a 52.43% high-danger chances for percentage (HDCF%).
Capitalizing on their scoring chance share has been difficult, however, as their 6.36% road 5v5 shooting percentage ranks just 27th and their high-danger 5v5 shooting percentage of 16.90% ranks 25th.
The Blue Jackets haven’t yet announced a starter for this one tonight, but it’s likely that Merzlikins continues to get the starts in Korpisalo’s absence.
He’s been solid since taking over as the team’s starting netminder with a .945 SV% over his last three starts.
However, after allowing just one goal in wins over the Panthers and Bruins, he allowed three to the Sharks in a 3-2 loss his last time out.
It’s been a tale of two seasons for the Kings.
On one hand, they are a brutal 6-14-3 on the road this season where they rank 25th on defense.
However, they’e gone a healthy 11-8-1 at home where they are tied for ninth with 2.70 goals against per game.
They’ve alternated losses and wins over their last five, dropping their most recent decision to the Nashville Predators by a 4-1 count on Saturday night.
They’ve also lost five of their last seven entering this one tonight.
The splits are intriguing, however.
The Kings aren’t a very good offense wherever they play, however that defensive number is substantially better at home where they dominate the possession game.
On top of owning a +4.2 average shot differential at home, the Kings sport some nice advanced metrics on home ice.
At 5v5 at home, the Kings rank seventh with a 53.98% CF%, 15th with a 52.91% SCF% and ninth with a 55.50% HDCF%.
Like the Blue Jackets, the Kings have also had a tough time translating the solid possession numbers into goals as their 6.53% 5v5 shooting percentage at home ranks 29th and their 13.70% high-danger shooting percentage ranks 30th.
They have received real good goaltending at home, however, and those duties tonight will go to veteran Jonathan Quick whose splits mirror those of his team.
On the road, Quick has been torched to the tune of a 3.60 GAA and .879 Sv%, but at home he’s posted a 2.51 GAA and .912 Sv% across 14 starts.
After dropping two straight and posting an .870 Sv% in that time, Quick got back into the win column by turning aside 32 of 35 Flyers shots (.914 Sv%) in a 5-3 win at home his last time out.
The Jackets have done well to set aside the injury bug and plow forward with wins, however their lack of offense hurts them and with the way Merzlikins has played on the road this season, it’s going to be tough to win games away from Nationwide Arena moving forward.
The Kings are in the Western Conference’s basement, but their ability to defend at home is intriguing and they still average close to three goals per game at home as well. Not a great number, but a number superior to the Blue Jackets road offense and with defense factored in, the Kings should have a good shot at winning this game tonight.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Jackets struggle a little bit after being cooled off of their hot stretch, and a good home defense should help deliver another Columbus lost tonight.
Give me the home side here as slight favorites to win this one on the moneyline tonight.