Friday night gives us just one NHL game on the schedule as the league prepares for a big weekend with 20 games scheduled. It might not be the most exciting game in the world, but every game is exciting if you bet on it.
After beginning the season by giving up 20 goals in their first four games, the goaltending in Chicago has finally found its footing. Goaltender Kevin Lankinen made 41 saves for the Blackhawks on Wednesday night, but unfortunately they still lost the game in a shootout.
The Blackhawks find themselves in the bottom ten of the NHL in all key metrics including expected goals, high danger chances, scoring chances and shot attempts. They are bottom ten in high danger chances per 60 minutes as well as expected goals per hour at 5-on-5. They are bottom ten in goals per game as well.
On the flipside, their defensive metrics are not much better as they are in the bottom ten in both high danger chances against and expected goals against.
If you’re not picking up what I’m putting down, I’ll say it a little more clearly. The Chicago Blackhawks are bad and they will struggle this season. Their 2-4-2 start is not a mirage and I expect the losing to continue in Chicago this season.
They are without captain Jonathan Toews, who was ruled out at the beginning of training camp with an unknown medical issue. Without Toews, the supporting cast around Patrick Kane is weak. It does not help that the Blackhawks will likely be without one of their top players in Alex DeBrincat. DeBrincat was placed on the Covid list and has missed the last two games.
On the other side of the matchup, the Columbus Blue Jackets continue to do what the Columbus Blue Jackets have done over the past few seasons. Despite not a lot of big names on their roster, the Blue Jackets are humming along, having gotten points in 6 of their first 8 games.
Columbus is led by their goaltending duo of Elvis Merzilikens and Joonas Korpisalo. Elvis played on Thursday night against the Panthers, so expect Korpisalo to get the start on Friday. There is no significant dropoff as Korpisalo has shown he is a solid NHL goalie.
Columbus is a team that doesn’t generate much offensively, but their attention to detail and defensive work is amongst the best in the league. Coach John Tortorella demands accountability from his team and he gets it.
While the Blue Jackets aren’t the sexiest team in the league, I think they have enough talent to overcome the dreadful Blackhawks in this matchup. It doesn’t help that Columbus is playing the second half of a back-to-back, but that fact probably kept this line at a reasonable price.
Bet: Columbus ML @ -125
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Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Chicago Blackhawks: Blue Jackets ML @ -125 (Click to bet)
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