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Posted at 1:30 PM EST
8:05 PM EST. OT included. The Blue Jackets are 4-1 and they’ve got the numbers to back up a great start to the season. Columbus is a top-10 puck possession team (8th in CorsiFor%, an advanced statistic used to measure shot attempt differential while at even strength play) and 6th in Fenwick For (like Corsi but does not include blocked shots) at 54.7%. The Jackets have outshot the opposition in four of their first five games and putting up more than 30 shots in each of those contest including 43 against the Rangers. Columbus actually outshot the Blackhawks in its only loss which came on the second half of a back to back with backup Joonas Korpisalo making the start. Starting goaltending Sergei Bobrovsky is 4-0 with 1.48 goals against average and a .952 save percentage, which is second to only Chicago’s Corey Crawford in both of those categories. Bobrovsky has played at an elite level to start the season which is more than we can say about his counterpart tonight.
The Jets have ripped off three wins in a row after making the switch to Connor Hellebuyck between the pipes. You’d think that head coach Paul Maurice wouldn’t want to tinker with things too much but he is under pressure to play Steve Mason, who the Jets signed to a two year, $8-million deal in the offseason. We’ve got to wonder what the locker room thinks of a decision like this, as Hellebuyck has been around for a few years now, is well liked and has stood on his head to spark this winning streak and he gets rewarded by sitting tonight. There is no doubt who the better option in net is because everything is about money, the Jets aren’t going to sit a player they just signed foralmost $50-thousand a game to warm the bench and work the gate. Maurice has also been critical of his defense and while this team didn’t play well in front of Mason, they haven’t played well in front of Hellebuyck either despite the wins. The Jets are a poor puck possession team and rank 28th in Corsi For at 45.6%. The Jets inability to dictate the pace of play the majority of the time is an even bigger concern when you consider that they are dead last in offensive zone starts at just 39.2% a full 5% behind the next closest club. Winnipeg is spending way too much time in its own end. They’ve been outshot and out-chanced in four of their last five games with the only exception being their game in Edmonton when Hellebuyck still faced 39 shots. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again that the Jets are loaded with offensive talent but talent alone is not enough. The timing is off to start Mason. Really off and it can’t be sitting well with anyone in that Jets locker room. The Jackets are a difficult out on any day because of their work ethic, goaltending and talent and in an evenly priced game we’re thrilled to get the superior goaltending.
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Columbus -105 (Risking 2.1 units - To Win: 2.00)