There is one lone game in the NHL on Friday, as the Columbus Blue Jackets and Chicago Blackhawks face off in the Windy City. The Blue Jackets (3-2-3) have responded nicely from their rough start to win two of their last three games, while the Blackhawks (2-3-3) had their two-game winning streak snapped with back-to-back losses.
Columbus Blue Jackets Betting Preview: Plenty of Buzz
Things didn’t get off to the best start in Columbus. The team lost four of their first five games and had a disgruntled star in Pierre-Luc Dubois, whom they were actively shopping. But since trading Dubois to Columbus, they have gone 2-0-1, giving them enough points to currently sit atop the Central Division.
Through eight games, the Blue Jackets are averaging 2.5 goals per game, 22nd in the NHL, on about 29 shots on goal. Their power play needs a shot in the arm, as so far, they have converted on just 9.1% of their chances.
Things are a little better defensively, where they allow 2.88 goals and have a strong 88.2% success rate on the penalty kill. However, they’re also giving up 33.4 shots per game, the fourth-most in the league.
The solution to some of their offensive woes may be new acquisition Patrik Laine, who is coming over from Winnipeg in the Dubois deal and scored twice in his only game played. However, visa issues will keep him from making his team debut until sometime early next week. In the meantime, look for young scorers Oliver Bjorkstrand and Alexandre Texier to shoulder the load.
Both have a team-leading six points, with Texier netting four goals and Bjorkstrand racking up four assists. Veterans Boone Jenner and Nick Foligno each have multiple goals, while Columbus would love to get more from new acquisitions Max Domi and Mikko Koivu.
Chicago Blackhawks Betting Preview: Flying Low
Like Columbus, Chicago probably wishes things started a little better for them in the new year. The Blackhawks opened up the season with four straight losses, allowing five goals in all of them. But things may be on the up-and-up now after getting a point in their last four contests, two of which were outright wins.
This season, Chicago has been able to average 2.75 goals per game on just under 30 shots, both of which rank 18th in the NHL. However, one area they have excelled on is the power play, where their 36% scoring rate is the fifth-best in the league.
Defensively, a sub-par blue line and questionable goalie tandem result in the Hawks giving up 3.38 goals on the second-most shots at 34.4. Their penalty kill is middle of the pack, though, sitting at almost 79%.
Injuries to players like Kirby Dach, Alex Nylander, and captain Jonathan Toews, along with COVID cases like Alex DeBrincat, certainly affect Chicago’s offensive potential. But that doesn’t mean others aren’t stepping up. Both Dylan Strome and Dominik Kubalik have scored two goals and earned three assists, while newcomer Pius Suter recently put together a hat trick in a win against Detroit.
Defensemen Duncan Keith and Connor Murphy have also been solid, tied with Strome and Kubalik with five points each. Of course, former MVP Patrick Kane has been steady as ever, scoring three goals and entering Friday’s game with a team-leading seven points.
Blue Jackets at Blackhawks Betting Odds & Lines
Bet this game at MyBookie, where right now the Blue Jackets are road favorites at -130. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, are listed at +110.
Additionally, the over/under at MyBookie is 5.5. You’ll find that the under is favored just slightly, listed at -115 compared to -105 for the over.
Free Betting Pick
When you look at how these teams began the year and where they are now, you will see some similarities. This should be a fun game that will pit a Blackhawks team that can score, particularly on the power play, against a Blue Jackets team that has been solid defensively, particularly on the penalty kill.
This game may just come down to freshness. The Blue Jackets are coming off of a game on Thursday and one that had to be decided in a shootout. The Blackhawks had Thursday off and are at home, which should give them a little bit of an advantage.
With Columbus still not at full-strength on offense and perhaps a bit tired, I like Chicago as the home underdogs to pull off the upset.
Spooky Express Free Pick: Blackhawks +110