The Columbus Blue Jackets are on a back-to-back following a loss in overtime at Winnipeg. Down 3-2 with less than 20 seconds remaining in regulation, the Blue Jackets scored a game-tying goal to force overtime.
The Jets were unable to hold with the extra attacker on the ice off a faceoff as the clock ticked down. However, Nikolaj Ehlers made no mistake on a breakaway after the Jets came up with a big stop under pressure in their own zone.
It’s another tough loss for the Blue Jackets, as their defense and goaltending let them down again. Elvis Merzlikins could have been better, which seems to be a common thing for the Latvian this season.
A big save by Coms at one end, and @NikolajEhlers24 going 5-hole at the other end.
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) March 26, 2022
The Blue Jackets fell to 32-29-4 with the loss. They are going into tonight fifth in the Metropolitan Division. Building on that position looks tough, as their 68 points is 14 points behind the next closest team in the division, the Capitals at 36-20-10 and 82 points.
As long as they continue to fail to get stops consistently, the Jackets aren’t going far the rest of the season. The Wild feel more confident in their chances, as they go into Saturday at 38-20-4 and 80 points in the Central Division.
Minnesota is in a tight race for second in the Central. There is no catching the Colorado Avalanche, who are well up with 97 points. However, there are three teams within 3 points of the Wild.
They addressed their goaltending added Marc-Andre Fleury at the trade deadline. Fleury hasn’t been thrilled since leaving Las Vegas.
— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) March 26, 2022
He tried to hide that he was fine going to Chicago, but it’s clear the former Penguin intended on ending his career as a Golden Knight.
I’m not sure Minnesota was his preferred destination. This gives him a much better opportunity to be a winner and go to the playoffs again, though.
Head below for our free Blue Jackets vs. Wild prediction on March 26, 2022.
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Minnesota Wild Betting Odds and Team Statistics:
The following odds are courtesy of BetOnline:
|Columbus Blue Jackets||+1.5 (-110)||+235||Over 6.5 (-115)|
|Minnesota Wild||-1.5 (-110)||-265||Under 6.5 (+104)|
|Team Data||Columbus Blue Jackets||Minnesota Wild|
|Goals Per Game||3.23||3.65|
|Goals Against Per Game||3.71||3.13|
|Shots Per Game||30.11||32.74|
|Shots Against Per Game||35.35||31.69|
Blue Jackets vs. Wild Prediction:
Last night, the Blue Jackets didn’t get what they wanted from Elvis Merzlikins. He let one especially soft goal towards the end of the 2nd period last night.
Merzlikins went to catch the puck on a shot from the point, and he whiffed on it, which trickled into the back of the net. That goal was a killer, as the Jets scored to make it a 3-2 game going into the intermission.
It’s been that season for the Blue Jackets, as they continue to allow goals at a worrying pace. The Blue Jackets are 30th in the NHL with 3.71 goals against per game.
They’re last in the league, having conceded 35.35 shots per game. If it’s not porous goaltending, they’re under constant pressure then.
Instead of going to the backup, Merzlikins is playing on a back-to-back. He is not getting a break in Minnesota, as Merzlikins is getting the call and is the confirmed starter versus the Wild.
Merzlikins enters this one with a 3.40 GAA, and 0.902 save percentage this season. It’s going to be a tough assignment versus a Minnesota team scoring 4.03 goals per game at home this season.
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Minnesota Wild Betting Trends:
- 4-1 overall in their previous five games versus the Western Conference
- 22-45 overall in their previous 67 games as an underdog
- OVER is 4-1-1 in their previous six games versus the Central Division
- OVER is 10-2 in their previous 12 games on a back-to-back
- OVER is 6-1 in their previous seven games on a Saturday
- 10-1 overall in their previous 11 games versus the Metropolitan Division
- 41-14 overall in their previous 55 games as a betting favorite at home
- OVER is 24-6-1 in their previous 31 games as a betting favorite at home
- OVER is 23-9-2 in their previous 24 games versus the Eastern Conference
- OVER is 36-16 in their previous 52 games on one-day rest
This doesn’t look like an ideal matchup for a Blue Jackets squad that struggles defensively. The Wild can light the scoreboard up in a hurry, and Columbus has allowed 4.2 goals a game in their last ten outings.
There are no improvements that have to be made to their wingers for Minnesota in this one. They should find room to operate and score.
They added Fleury to provide depth in the crease. The Wild can’t expect vintage Fleury, but we’ll see if he has another hot run in him. Pittsburgh thought he was done, too.
Fleury is going into tonight with a 2.95 GAA, and 0.908 save percentage. He joins a team that has allowed 3.13 goals per game for 19th in the NHL. There is room to improve.
At home, this season, Minnesota is scoring better than 4 goals per game, but allowing more than 3 goals a game at 3.07 per game. Fleury inherits plenty of pressure to give the Wild defense a better chance.
I’m looking at a high-scoring game in Minnesota in this one. A final score of 4-3 or 5-3 doesn’t look out of reach here.