The Columbus Blue Jackets and Chicago Blackhawks will face off against each other for the second time in three days on Sunday night, so here’s the best betting pick for their Central Division showdown at United Center in Chicago.
The Blue Jackets outlasted the Blackhawks 2-1 as -135 road favorites last Friday in their first duel in more than two years. According to BetMGM Sportsbook, the Jackets are slight favorites to beat the Blackhawks once more, so let’s take a closer look at these two teams.
Columbus continues to lean on its defense, aims for its third straight W
After four losses in their first five games of the season, the Columbus Blue Jackets (4-2-3) have won three of their previous four contests. They beat Tampa Bay 5-2 and Florida 3-2 in a shootout along with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Panthers.
The Blue Jackets are allowing 2.63 goals per game (tied-11th in the NHL). They score 2.50 in a return (tied-21st) on just 27.6 shots per game (25th) while converting only three of their 24 power-play opportunities (24th).
Joonas Korpisalo guarded the cage last Friday, posting 31 saves to improve to 2-1-2 on the season. He’s recorded a 2.17 GAA with a .936 save percentage, while Elvis Merzlikins has a 2-1-1 record with a 2.94 GAA and a .905 save percentage. Winger Oliver Bjorkstrand leads the way for skaters with three goals and five assists in nine appearances.
Chicago needs more from its offense, hopes to stop a three-game slide
The Chicago Blackhawks (2-4-3) are on a three-game losing streak following Friday’s defeat to the Jackets. They took 32 shots towards Joonas Korpisalo, but only Dylan Strome found the net, converting a power-play opportunity midway the third period to cut the deficit.
It turned out to be a consolation goal for the Blackhawks who average just 2.27 goals per game (24th in the league). Winger Patrick Kane leads the way with three goals and five assists through nine games, but he hasn’t found the net in four straight outings.
Chicago allows 2.82 goals a night (17th) while surrendering 35.1 shots to their opponents which are the fourth-most in the NHL. Kevin Lankinen has played between the pipes in five of the previous six contests, and he’s 2-1-2 with a 2.16 GAA and a .930 save percentage.
- 4-8 in the last 12 games overall
- 7-13 in the last 20 games against Chicago
- 10-3 in the last 13 home contests against Columbus
- 6-2 in the last eight regular-season games at home
The Blackhawks have some problems with injuries and COVID-19 protocols, but they can still lean on a lot of good players. Patrick Kane needs to be more aggressive, while I expect to see a more prolific display by the entire team after scoring just once on 32 shots last Friday.
Both teams look like they’re still trying to figure out things, especially on the offensive end. We should see another tight clash, and the Blackhawks will come out on top in case they’ve learned a few lessons from their previous encounter with the Jackets.
Pick: Take Chicago at +100
I’ve mentioned the Blue Jackets’ struggle with the man advantage, while they’ve allowed just three power-play goals on 20 attempts thus far. However, the Blackhawks are 10-for-28 with the man advantage and has the fifth-best power-play percentage in the league.
I’m looking for the Blackhawks to finally break out of their funk and score a few goals regardless of who’ll guard the cage for the Jackets. Chicago’s allowing too many shots, and I think the Blackhawks won’t win this game on the back of their defense.
Pick: Go over 5.5 goals at -120