I issued three free NHL picks last night and unfortunately took a loss as only one of those picks hit.
The lone winner of the night was the Islanders on the moneyline against their in-state rival Rangers.
They finally solved goaltender Alexandar Georgiev in that one, scoring four times to build a 4-0 lead and despite allowing a couple of goals themselves they would hold on and exact revenge on the Rangers in a 4-2 final.
The first loss of the evening came between the Penguins and Flyers from Philadelphia where I had the over 6.
The Flyers’ back end wasn’t affected by the loss of Carter Hart as Brian Elliott stood tall and turned aside all 19 shots he faced in what wound up as a 3-0 win for the home side and total fell well under 6.
Finally, I had the Blackhawks to win their sixth straight against the Panthers on the moneyline, but it was the Panthers who would win their sixth straight in that one.
Florida actually built a 3-0 lead in the second period and led 4-1 going into the third, but the Blackhawks scored twice in the third to get within one but the Panthers held on for the victory despite being outshot 35-26 in that one.
All told, we dropped 1.31 units on the night as an up-and-down last week or so continued.
Season Record: 82-69-1
Now let’s turn our attention to tonight’s lone free NHL pick featuring the Jets vs. Blue Jackets from Nationwide Arena in Columbus!
Jets vs. Blue Jackets Betting Odds
- Jets (+166)
- Blue Jackets (-185)
- Jets +1.5 (-150)
- Blue Jackets -1.5 (+130)
- Over 5.5 (-113)
- Under 5.5 (+102)
Jets vs. Blue Jackets NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s take a look at each of these clubs before I get into my final pick!
The Winnipeg Jets are sliding down the Western Conference standings of late as they have dropped three in a row and five of their last six entering this one after taking a 4-1 loss just last night in Carolina.
The Jets now find themselves outside of the playoff picture looking ion as they’re three points back of the two teams occupying the Wild Card spot in the west in the form of the Coyotes and Golden Knights.
This despite some solid results on the road this season where they have gone 14-10-2 despite starting this three-game road trip with a pair of losses.
Unlike at home, the Jets have been able to generate quality offense on the road this season where they rank ninth with 3.15 goals per game on the season.
That said, they have also allowed that same 3.15 goal mark on the defensive side, a middle of the pack number but one that’s increased in yielding nine goals in two road games to start this trip.
Special teams also haven’t been a strong point on the road where the Jets rank 20th with a 17.1% mark on the power play and 16th with a 78.9% mark on the penalty kill.
The power play has struggled of late, going just 1 for 16 (6.25%) over their last five games, although the penalty kill has been real good of late, going 12 for 13 (92.3) over that same stretch. They’ve allowed just two power play goals against over their last eight games.
The possession numbers aren’t pretty, however.
At 5v5 on the road, the Jets rank 25th with a 46.48% Corsi For%, 29th with a 44.38% Scoring Chances For% and dead last by a wide margin with a 37.37% High-Danger Chances For%.
They’ve put plenty of stress on their netminders on the road, but Jets goaltending ranks 11th with a .924 Sv% at 5v5 on the road and seventh with an .837 Sv% on high-danger chances, so they’ve been bailed out by their netminders for the most part.
The problem tonight is that those numbers are thanks to Connor Hellebuyck. Hellebuyck started last night’s loss in Carolina, so it will be Laurent Brossoit going in this one and he’s had a rough year.
Brossoit enters this one sporting a 3.67 GAA and .885 Sv% on the season with a 4-5-0 record in 10 starts and 14 appearances.
On the road, he’s posted an improved 3.35 GAA and .897 Sv%, but hasn’t been good over his last six outings and owns a 4.54 GAA and .869 Sv% in one start and three appearances in January.
This is a matchup of two teams heading in opposite directions as the Jackets have shot up in the Eastern Conference standings thanks to their current five-game win streak while they’re also 8-2-0 over their last 10.
They now find themselves sitting in the second Wild Card spot in the east as a result.
Their success this season hasn’t been on offense as they rank 25th with just 2.77 goals per game at home this season, but rather on defense and most recently between the pipes.
The Blue Jackets rank third with just 2.19 goals against per game at home this season and also third with a .923 Sv% from their goaltenders at home, something few people saw coming from the Joonas Korpisalo/Elvis Merzlikins combinations after two-time Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky walked in free agency and is subsequently struggling mightily with the Florida Panthers.
Korpisalo was hot before injuring his knee in December, but Merzlikins has been perhaps the NHL’s best goaltender since that time.
The Blue Jackets haven’t yet named a starting goaltenders, but if it’s Merzlikins he will bring a 2.36 GAA and .928 Sv% into action to go along with an eye-popping 1.08 GAA and .969 Sv% at home in five starts and seven appearances.
Furthermore, he’s posted a shutout in three of his last four starts and owns a 1.57 GAA and .953 Sv% in nine starts in the month of January.
If it’s not Merzlikins, it will be Matiss Kivlenieks, however Kivlenieks started their most recent outing – a 2-1 win over the Rangers in New York on Sunday.
It was his first NHL outing of his career, and an impressive on at that, but he also owns a weak 3.04 GAA and .896 Sv% in 16 AHL games this season.
That speaks to just how well the Jackets are playing defensively right now as they have allowed just three goals, yes only three goals, during their five-game win streak.
For their part, however, the Blue Jackets aren’t a great possession team themselves.
At 5v5 at home, they rank 24th with a 48.87% Corsi For%, 20th with a 50% Scoring Chances For% and 21st with a 51.27% High-Danger Chances For%.
Like the Jets, the Jackets have also benefited from strong goaltending as their .939 5v5 Sv% at home ranks third and their .854 Sv% on high-danger scoring chances ranks fifth.
The Jackets are playing some excellent hockey at the moment and there’s no doubt they’ll look to go into the All-Star break and their subsequent bye week with six wins in a row.
That said, while my intention is to not be a buzzkill, I’m always looking into the sustainability of streaks – both hot and cold – and I’m having a hard time with Merzlikins’ numbers at home.
His team’s defensive structure is certainly helping, but I mean a 1.08 GAA and .969 Sv% at home just isn’t sustainable. It’s also in a small seven-appearance sample, so I am definitely looking for regression in that number.
Furthermore he’s just 4-1-1 despite those insane home numbers. That means he’s still lost twice in six decisions at home despite allowing next to no offense. It’s because the Jackets are not a good offensive team.
It could take a team like the Jets and their quality road offense to deliver some regression tonight.
I’m not fond of Brossoit’s work of late and it’s certainly a concern. That said, his road record isn’t horrible despite those numbers as he’s been well supported by this Jets offense.
Given the regression that I see coming from Merzlikins, I am seeing some value in the Jets at these +166 odds. The two teams are going in opposite directions at the moment, but the Jets hold a notable offensive advantage in this one and Merzlikins is going to stumble at some point.
At +166, I’ll look for that stumble in this one tonight.