The Columbus Blue Jackets put their fifteen-game winning streak on the line tonight against the Edmonton Oilers. Yes, you read that correctly, the Blue Jackets have won 15 straight games. If you haven’t been paying attention to the NHL, the Jackets have been destroying teams at every opportunity they have. In their last matchup, against the Minnesota Wild, two winning streaks were on the line. The Wild had an impressive streak of success themselves, but the Blue Jackets were too much to contain.
The win went to Columbus, a 4-2 win that kept the streak alive. They come back home after beating the Jets and Wild on the road. In all, the Blue Jackets are 26-5-4 on the season. It’s a phenomenal turnaround for a team who were dead in the water last year. Notably, the way they opened the year in Columbus, which ultimately led to the firing of Todd Richards.
The Blue Jackets were quick to replace Richards with John Tortorella. I praised the hire at the time, and the move has worked out in aces for the Blue Jackets. The Jackets went on a nine-game losing streak to open last season open. They’ve made up for it quite nicely, producing fifteen wins in a row. They are the only team in NHL history to go from Thanksgiving to Christmas without a loss. The only thing Tortorella hasn’t done right this year was coach Team USA to anything of substance at the World Cup of Hockey. However, it seems like he had his eyes focused on the Blue Jackets then.
The success of the Blue Jackets is coming from all angles. First, the goaltender Sergei Bobrosvky has been playing lights out. He has posted a stellar GAA of 1.95 and 0.934% save percentage. While Tortorella didn’t enjoy much success at the World Cup of Hockey, Bobrovsky stood on his head for Russia. It’s carried over into his professional career. Others who are worth noting are Cam Atkinson, Sam Gagner, Jack Johnson, Brandon Saad, and Brandon Dubinsky. There are so many who have contributed in a big way, we could go up and down the lineup. The Edmonton Oilers, who have been a victim of the Blue Jackets during this winning streak, will look to snap it this time around.
The Oilers haven’t turned this year around quite like the Blue Jackets have. It’s hard to compete with a franchise who have accomplished one of the biggest 180’s in the NHL. The real test for Columbus will be if they can sustain this kind of production in the second-half. The Blue Jackets have showed no signs of slowing up. They’ve been proficient on both ends of the ice in 2016-17. The Jackets are averaging 3.46 goals per game, 1st in the NHL, while they are allowing 2.06 goals per game, tied for 1st. Jaw dropping numbers for a team who were lost without a paddle in October of last year. Tortorella took the paddle and took this team to greater heights.
The Oilers come in with a record of 19-12-4 and feeling pretty good about themselves as well. They haven’t really hit that wall like everyone was expecting to come. Sort of like people were waiting for the Blue Jackets to come crashing down. The Oilers have been more than capable on the road, posting a record of 10-5-3 out of Edmonton. They are also 9th in the NHL in goal scoring, with the defense improving tremendously to 10th in the league.
Connor McDavid leads the way for the Oilers, potting 14 goals and 29 assists so far. Through his first 82 games of his career, he ranks up there among the greats in points, including Steve Yzerman, Joe Sakic, and Jaromir Jagr. There were more than a few people expecting the Wild to finally end the streak. Conversely, absolutely nobody is on the Oilers here. In fact, it appears that over 90 percent of public are on the Blue Jackets. I might be reaching when I say this, but the Oilers are worth a look tonight. There is a real possibility that the Jackets finally let up after ruining the Wild’s winning streak. At the price the Oilers are catching, I think they are worth a look on Tuesday night.
PICK: OILERS TO WIN +145