The NHL is in the middle of a quiet week after the NHL All-Star break. Only three games are on the board for Thursday night because a lot of teams are on their bye week after the break. One of the three games though is between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Winnipeg Jets. Both teams have been off to a fast start this season, which should lead to a good game. The puck will drop around 8:00 PM Eastern time on ESPN+.
The Blue Jackets have started this season with a record of 28-18-3. Columbus is sitting in third place of the Metropolitan Division. The Blue Jackets lost their first game after the All-Star break to the Buffalo Sabres, which brought Columbus’ losing streak up to three games. The Blue Jackets will look to break the losing streak with a road win on Thursday night.
Winnipeg has earned the top spot of the Central Division with a record of 32-16-2. The Jets have gone 1-1 since the All-Star break, beating the Boston Bruins and losing to the Philadelphia Flyers. Winnipeg has been on a tear this season and are only five points behind the Calgary Flames for the top spot in the Western Conference. The Jets will look to earn a home win to help make that climb up the standings.
Thursday night’s matchup between the Blue Jackets and the Jets will be the first matchup of the season series. Columbus and Winnipeg will meet one more time this season on March 3. Both of these teams have looked like playoff teams to this point in the season, which should lead to a tightly contested matchup on Thursday night.
Last Season’s Matchups
The first game of last season’s series was hosted by Winnipeg. The Blue Jackets exploded for a big second period, scoring four goals. Cam Atkinson, Nick Foligno, Jack Johnson, Lukas Sedlak, and Zach Werenski all scored a goal for Columbus. Kyle Connor and Joel Armia scored for the Jets. Joonas Korpisalo stopped 24 of 26 shots to help give Columbus a 5-2 win.
The second matchup of last season’s series was hosted by the Blue Jackets. Brandon Tanev opened up the scoring for the Jets in the first period. Cam Atkinson tied it up halfway through the third period and Josh Anderson gave Columbus the win in overtime. Steve Mason faced 37 shots and stopped 35 of them, but it was not enough. Sergei Bobrovsky had 29 saves as the Blue Jackets swept the season series with a 2-1 overtime win.
Columbus was able to sweep the season series against the Jets last season. Both games were early in the season though, and Winnipeg did not pick up their play until a little bit later in the season. I expect the Jets to put up a much better performance for Thursday night’s matchup as they are in full swing to this point in the season.
The Blue Jackets have been doing alright on special teams this season. Columbus’ power play has not been doing great, scoring on only 15.1 percent of their chances. The Blue Jackets penalty kill has been doing much better, stopping their opponents around 83.2 percent of the time. Columbus will need their penalty kill to step up if they want to stop the Jets on Thursday night.
Winnipeg’s power play has been one of the top ones in the NHL this season. The Jets have scored on 26.5 percent of their power play chances. Winnipeg’s penalty kill has been doing a good job this season, holding opposing teams to a power play percentage of around 81.2 percent. The Jets are above average in both categories to this point the season.
The Jets have a clear edge on special teams in this game. It will take a perfect game from Columbus’ penalty kill if they want to stop Winnipeg’s power play. The Blue Jackets best bet is to avoid taking any dumb penalties. I do not see Columbus’ power play putting up a great performance on Thursday night against the Jets.
I expect Sergei Bobrovsky to start in net for the Blue Jackets on Thursday night. Bobrovsky has played well to start out the season, earning a record of 19-15-1. He has a save percentage of .902 and a 2.97 GAA this season. Bobrovsky has played decently well this season and will need to put up a strong performance to beat the Jets on the road.
Connor Hellebuyck will likely get the nod in the net for Winnipeg. Hellebuyck has posted a .910 save percentage and a GAA of 2.85. He has a 22-14-1 record in his starts this season. Hellebuyck has been on a roll this season and he will be tough to beat on Thursday night.
I give the edge in net to the Jets with Connor Hellebuyck. Hellebuyck has been playing really well since last season, where he earned a Vezina Trophy nomination. I believe that he will play a really nice matchup against Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky has not been doing great this season and he will need a good performance to slow down Winnipeg’s offense.
The Blue Jackets and the Jets have both been playing really solid hockey this season and they are both sitting in playoff spots as of right now. Winnipeg has the better goalie and special teams, which I believe could give them the edge in Thursday nights game. The Jets lost both games in last season’s series and I believe they will end that losing streak against Columbus on Thursday night.
BetOnline has Winnipeg listed as a -145 against the money line. The Jets do not have much value as large favorites, but I believe that Winnipeg could put up a dominant win at home. If you take the Jets -1 ½, you can get a money line of +180, which has a lot of value. I believe that the Jets put up a dominant win at home to cover the goal and a half puck line.