Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 1:00 PM EST.
7:05 PM EST. Regulation only. Let’s see if we have this straight, shall we? New Jersey has won four in a row. Those victories came in Tampa Bay, in Philly against a red-hot Flyers’ squad and two wins against Carolina. The Devils scored 17 goals in those four wins. Then there’s the Blue Jackets, a team that opened as a pick-em against Pittsburgh on Sunday and was bet up to -145 by game time before they got buried 5-2 to run its losing streak to three games. We point the line movement out because it goes to market influence. A high majority of the market, which was largely behind the Jackets, ripped up their tickets in disgust this past Sunday will therefore not be anxious to get behind them here. The Jackets have been outscored 13-6 over their current three-game losing streak. The Jackets have now lost nine of their past 11 games. Just to recap – the Devils have won four in a row while scoring 17 goals over those four wins while the Jackets have lost three straight and nine of 11. Despite that, Columbus is (opened as) road chalk here? Does that make any sense at all? It does to us because all of the recent results for both teams are so damn misleading.
Each one of the Devils last four victories during this current streak have been underserving and very lucky. See that 4-3 victory over Tampa Bay? New Jersey was outshot, 51-28 and played practically the entire game in its own end. Eddie Lack made 48 saves on those 51 shots and that’s a sentence you may never see again. See that 3-2 victory the very next night in Carolina? The Devils were outshot 42-21 and were under siege the entire game but this time it was Keith Kinkaid that bailed them out. See that Devils’ 5-2 win over Carolina? New Jersey scored five times on 22 shots on net and finally, in the 5-4 OT win over Philadelphia, the Devils were down two in the third, tied it up and won it in OT. Prior to winning four in a row, the Devils had dropped four in a row so we should realistically be discussing a team on a 0-8 run and not a 4-0 run.
The Jackets are the polar opposite in that they’re playing at a high level and dominating games but cannot get a win. If hard work pays off then the Jackets are about to get paid in spades. Columbus ranks top seven in the NHL in several metrics over the past five weeks. During 5v5 play, the Jackets rank 7th in xGF, 7th in CF%, 1st in CF/60 and 6th in Expected Goals Differential. The reason the Jackets are losing is a combination of weak goaltending by Sergei Bobrovsky and the inability to score timely goals. Those are both luck-driven. Bobrovsky can get hot at any time (although we can’t stand him and have never liked him) and the inability to score timely goals is also just a complete fluke and unpredictable. What we know for sure is that the Jackets are in so much better from than the Devils. What we also know is that winning games when playing so poorly is unsustainable but that’s what the Devils have been doing for the past four games. They’ve been playing poorly and sloppy for close to two months. It likely catches up to them and we’re betting it catches up to them here.
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Columbus -½ +145 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.90)