- The winless Columbus Blue Jackets (0-2) are 1.5-goal favorites going into Monday’s game against the improved Detroit Red Wings.
- The Martin Luther King Day matinee (Noon, ET) will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network
- See the game odds, spread, total, plus a preview below
The favored Columbus Blue Jackets have to guard against taking the rebuilding Detroit Red Wings too lightly when they meet Monday.
What seems clear after the Red Wings first two games of the 2020-21 season: they aren’t as inept as they were last season when the team lost 54 of 71 games. The Blue Jackets were 3-0 against Detroit last season and have been miles ahead of the Red Wings in the standings for the past four seasons.
In an effort to be more competitive this season, GM Steve brought in four veteran defensemen (Marc Staal, Jon Merrill, Troy Stecher and Christian Djoos), plus forwards Bobby Ryan and Vladislav Namestnikov. The result: The Red Wings only gave up two even-strength goals to the skilled Carolina Hurricanes in their two-game series. Last season. the Red Wings had the NHL’s worst goals-against average of 3.70.
Blue Jackets vs Red Wings Odds
|Columbus Blue Jackets||-160||-1.5 (+175)||O 5.5 (-110)|
|Detroit Red Wings||+135||+1.5 (-210)||U 5.5 (-110)|
Odds taken Jan. 17 from FanDuel
Blue Jackets Have Troubles
No. 1 Center Pierre-Luc Dubois, the Blue Jackets’ best offensive player, has told Columbus management that he would like to be traded.
Dubois did sign a two-year extension, giving GM Jarmo Kekalainen plenty of time to work out a deal. However, if the Blue Jackets delay moving him, they risk having his trade demand disrupt team harmony. Players say they separate the business side of sports from the competition, but Kekalainen has to consider the possibility that some Columbus players may feel betrayed.
The Blue Jackets boast a quality young team, and Dubois is a major part of their steady rise. Already it feels as if the Columbus players are waiting for something to happen.
Pierre-Luc Dubois first destination choice is @CanadiensMTL The @BlueJacketsNHL ask is now focused around Nick Suzuki / plus. Romanov has been deemed untouchable. Would you do it if your Marc Bergevin? @Line_Movement
— Nick Kypreos (@RealKyper) January 14, 2021
Red Wings Now Solid in Net
The free agent signing of goalie Thomas Greiss probably will do as much to enhance the Red Wings’ competitiveness as any of the other signings.
Greiss is respected as a solid, dependable, predictable goalie. He is replacing Jimmy Howard whose game fell apart in 2019-20. The former University of Maine standout was 2-23-2 last season with a 4.20 goals-against average and .882 save percentage.
The Greiss acquisition is already paying off. He stopped 40 of 42 shots against Carolina in Detroit’s opener. He enters the Columbus series with a .952 save percentage. Detroit’s other goalie is Jonathan Bernier who was probably Detroit’s top performer last season. He was probably one of the NHL’s top 10 goalies for the second half of last season. Detroit’s goaltending is not the problem.
Thomas Greiss has taken the early lead in the best offseason acquisition department so far. Been very solid. #TendySquad #LGRW
— Andy Hill™ (@andy_hill25) January 15, 2021
Blue Jackets Need More Goals
The Nashville Predators are not considered one of the NHL’s elite teams. But they opened the season with two wins against the Blue Jackets and outscored them 8-3.
Already, the Blue Jackets look like they have the same problem they had last season. In 2019-20, Columbus defended aggressively, outworked every opponent and were aggravating to play against. Their goaltending was consistently strong. But the Blue Jackets couldn’t score. They ranked 29th in the NHL with an average of 2.54 goals scored per game.
New threads! ?❤️ pic.twitter.com/hJe4bQVbPL
— Max Domi (@maxdomi) November 7, 2020
Surprisingly, they didn’t do much to address that in the offseason. They traded Josh Anderson for Max Domi and picked up Mikko Koivu. That might help, but unless Domi blossoms into a 30-goal scorer, it won’t be enough. Even though the Blue Jackets had cap space, they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, add another scorer. It doesn’t help that Gustav Nyquist is on the long-term injured reserve.
And it will become a bigger problem if Kekalainen deals Dubois and doesn’t receive a strong return.
Beware of the Red Wings
The Blue Jackets, based on their defensive play, should make the playoffs this season and the Red Wings will not. But going into their first meeting this week, the Red Wings look more in sync.
Pick: Red Wings, Moneyline (+135)