Blue Jackets vs. Blackhawks NHL Pick – January 29, 2021

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Last night was a 2-2 night that saw us notch a tiny profit. And you know what? I’ll take it after scuffling to catch a break over the last few days.

I was right with the Flyers in regulation over the Devils. That one actually sat knotted at 1-1 into the third, but the Flyers scored twice in the final frame’s first seven minutes and took that one by a 3-1 final. We hit that at +100.

We also hit the Over 6.5 between the Maple Leafs and Oilers. It was 3-2 Toronto in the third, but as soon as Zach Kassian tied the game 3-3 with about nine minutes left in the game, the Over was locked in before Auston Matthews’ power play strike gave the Leafs a 4-3 win. We notched that one at +111.

I took a shot on the heavily underdog Red Wings, and missed. The Wings actually scored two third-period goals to turn a 4-1 deficit to 4-3 with the game got away from them at that point as a power play goal, an empty-net goal and a late tally ended that one at 7-3 Dallas. Detroit outshot the Stars 33-29 in that one, but that lost cost us one unit.

Finally, we dropped our Penguins underdog pick in Boston, and it wasn’t really close. The Pens managed just 17 shots on goal and scored once in the first period, but two second-period goals from Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron sealed a 4-1 Bruins win, costing us another unit.

All four of our plays were at plus-money last night, and the 2-2 night netted us a whopping 0.11-unit profit. Again, I’ll take it.

Let’s see if we can notch some more profits in the only game featured on the NHL schedule as it’s the Blue Jackets vs. Blackhawks from Chicago!

  • Season Record: 8-14
  • Units: -7.04

Blue Jackets vs. Blackhawks Betting Odds

  • Blue Jackets (-127)
  • Blackhawks (+115)
  • Blue Jackets -1.5 (+195)
  • Blackhawks +1.5 (-225)
  • Over 5.5 (+101)
  • Under 5.5 (-111)

Blue Jackets vs. Blackhawks NHL Pick Breakdown

Blue Jackets

Offense

We knew the Blue Jackets would struggle to generate offense again this season given their defense-first mindset under John Tortorella, and that’s been the case so far.

The Jackets enter this one tied with the Arizona Coyotes for 22nd with just 2.50 goals per game on the young season, and once again their power play is a major issue at just 9.1% on the season, good for 27th league wide.

Of course, the team traded Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Winnipeg Jets and Patrik Laine remains on IR, but the team did get Jack Roslovic into action last night for the first time after he came to Columbus along with Laine.

NOTHIN’ DOIN’
For now, the Jackets just aren’t generating much of anything at 5v5, either. They rank 28th in scoring chances for/60, dead last in high-danger chances for/60 and 27th in expected goals for/60 at 5v5, as per Natural Stat Trick. Their 2.39 goals for/60 at 5v5 is far higher than their expected 1.79 mark, so we should actually anticipate regression from a 5v5 offense that’s already scuffling.

They actually rank seventh in high-danger shooting rate and 12th in overall shooting rate at 5v5, but any regression in those numbers will spell doom for this offense considering the lack of opportunities they’re generating.

For now, it’s a team rather thin down the middle and while the likes of Oliver Bjorkstrand and Cam Atkinson are quality point-producers on the flanks, we shouldn’t expect this offense to improve a whole lot, if at all, moving forward.

Defense

This remains a defense-first club. After all, they tied the Coyotes for third overall with 2.61 goals against per game last season.

This season, their number has risen slightly to 2.88 goals against per game, but that number actually sits in a share of 18th alongside the Buffalo Sabres. Their penalty kill has been strong, however, posting an 88.2% mark that ranks them sixth in the league.

It appears they are more or less deserving of their surface defensive number so far this season. At 5v5, they rank 15th in scoring chances against/60, 13th in high-danger chances against/60 and 17th in expected goals against/60. Their 2.39 goals against/60 at 5v5 sits above their 2.07 expected mark, so perhaps some improvement is on the horizon.

There was some turnover on the back end in the offseason as the team dealt Markus Nutivaara to the Florida Panthers and they added veteran Michael Del Zotto to the bottom pair. The team has handed youngster Vladislav Gavrikov an increased role in the top-four while mainstays Seth Jones, Zach Werenski and David Savard remain the stout core of the Jackets’ blueline.

The team has allowed just two goals against in two of their last three games including last night when they edged the Florida Panthers 3-2 in a shootout.

Goaltending

After Elvis Merzlikins secured the win last night, the club will go to Joonas Korpisalo for this one tonight, and the Finn has been stellar this season.

In four starts, Korpisalo has worked to a 2.45 GAA and .928 Sv%, but has gone just 1-1-2 in the process thanks to a lack of offensive support. The 26-year-old is coming off a season in which he posted a 2.60 GAA and .911 Sv%, a campaign that was broken up due to a knee injury that cost him six weeks of action, an injury that actually occurred in Chicago in the club’s lone visit to the Windy City last season.

Korpisalo’s last action came against the Panthers when he allowed three goals on 31 shots and it marked the second straight game in which he surrendered three goals after doing so against the high-octane Lightning two starts back. He owns a .912 Sv% over his last two starts.

Blackhawks

Offense

Given the absences of Jonathan Toews, Kirby Dach and Alex Nylander, along with missing Alex Debrincat for the last two games due to league protocol, the Blackhawks’ offense has hung tough.

No, they’re not the most potent group we’ll see, but their 2.75 goals per game puts them 18th in the league, but plenty of that has to do with a power play that’s come out of the gate hot at 36%, good for fifth league wide.

Still, at 5v5, they rank 17th in scoring chances for/60, but fall to 25th in high-danger chances for/60 and 22nd in expected goals for/60. Their 1.75 goals for/60 at 5v5 this season sits a little under their 2.00 expected mark, although their 30th-ranked high-danger shooting rate of just 10.42% should improve moving forward as the worst mark in the league last season was the San Jose Sharks at 13.55%.

We’ll see if DeBrincat can return for this one. He’s day-to-day on the protocol list, as is the offensively-minded Adam Boqvist on the back end. If the Blackhawks can get that duo back their offensive picture certainly improves.

Defense

This team’s demise was always going to be on defense this season, and that’s pretty much been the case so far.

They actually allowed just three regulation goals in losing two extra-time affairs to the Nashville Predators earlier in the week, but both their surface numbers and underlying metrics are quite poor.

The Blackhawks rank 24th with 3.38 goals against per game on the season and their penalty kill sits right in the middle of the pack at 78.8%, good for 15th league wide.

However, at 5v5, the Blackhawks rank 27th in scoring chances against/60, 20th in high-danger chances against/60 and 21st in expected goals against/60. Their actual 2.71 goals against/60 sits above their 2.31 expected mark at this point. To be honest, I expected worse from this back end but they’ve been a little better than expected despite ranking 30th in shots against per game.

In Boqvist’s stead, rookie Lucas Carlsson is now in a top-four role alongside Duncan Keith while Nikita Zadorov and Connor Murphy form the team’s top pair at the moment. It’s not the prettiest of groups, but with just 2.00 goals against per game over their last four, they’ve been getting the job done of late.

Goaltending

The Blackhawks’ goaltending situation appeared to be the worst in the league between Malcolm Subban and Collin Delia to open the season, but the emergence of rookie Kevin Lankinen has given them a steady presence between the pipes of late.

Lankinen will get the nod tonight — a good childhood friend of Joonas Korpisalo from back in Finland — and he’s coming off a stellar effort against the Predators, turning aside 41 of 42 shots (.976 Sv%) while single-handedly earning his team the single point despite the shootout loss.

That is three consecutive stellar efforts from the 25-year-old and he owns a .960 Sv% in that time and has earned his team five of a six possible points as well.

His resume entering the season wasn’t exactly impressive. Lankinen posted a 3.03 GAA and .909 Sv% in just 21 AHL appearances last season and even spent time in the ECHL as recently as the 2018-19 season. He produced excellent numbers in Finland’s top professional league prior to making the jump overseas, but it’s certainly fair to say that his emergence has been on the surprising side.

Blue Jackets vs. Blackhawks NHL Pick

The Blue Jackets are facing a back-to-back set in this one and had to travel after beating the Panthers at home last night. The team is 1-5 over their last six back-to-back situations and 1-4 in their last five games on the road as well.

Meanwhile, while they traveled from Nashville back to Chicago, the Blackhawks are actually 6-2 over their last eight games on home ice and 5-2 in their last seven games as a home underdog.

Trends aside, I like the Blackhawks in this spot. Do I like them as a team? No. Their injuries aren’t helping, but I’m not a fan of this blueline despite their recent results.

That said, their recent work is something to build on for them as a team and this matchup with the low-scoring Blue Jackets is another opportunity to keep rolling. Lankinen is in a nice spot to keep the good work going as well.

Korpisalo’s strong start is a concern, and they didn’t score much in Nashville this week, but the best player on the ice tonight is Patrick Kane and with Pius Suter’s emergence as his top-line center, the team has been able to spread the wealth a little bit and pair Dylan Strome and Dominik Kubalik on the second line. A return of DeBrincat would also be a major boon to their chances.

The value here is on the Blackhawks, so give me the home dogs on the moneyline.

The Bet
BLACKHAWKS
+115
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Brenton Kemp / Author

Brenton is a lifelong sports fan who resides in Ontario, Canada. Brenton is a fan of most all sports but specializes in hockey, baseball, football, basketball, and golf. He’s a fierce researcher with a strong appetite to deliver accurate and relevant facts that in turn have led to past success with picks and DFS advice across the board. Brenton’s biggest goal is to deliver readers with the picks and advice that can build their bankroll. He takes great pride in his success and loves nothing more than to share that success for the benefit of everyone involved.