National Hockey league action on Friday evening and we will see the Pacific Division grapple with the Metro Division as the Vancouver Canucks grapple with the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. The Canucks enter this game at 6-14 on the year while the Blue Jackets come in at 11-6.
Vancouver Is In For A Long SeasonThe Vancouver Canucks do not appear to be a team that will be in the mix for a playoff spot later in the season as they have struggled mightily out the gate. Vancouver comes in at 6-14 on the year and they have won kist one of their last eight games. It is going to be a long season for them. The offense has been a big issue for them as they come in ranked 28th in scoring, putting up just 2.30 gpg and it has been worse of late as they have averaged just 1.75 gpg over their last eight games. They enter this contest off of a 4-1 road loss to Pittsburgh and scoring their lone goal was Bo Horvat, which was his 6th of the year.
Horvat is 2nd on the team in goals while leading them is J.T. Miller with seven. The Canucks will not find the scoring easy in this one as the Blue Jackets have been solid in the crease at home. Yes, the offense has struggled, but their play at the other end of the ice has been bad of late as well as the Canucks have allowed 4.29 gpg over their last seven games and 4.00 gpg on the road for the year.Absorbing the loss to the Penguins was Thatcher Demko, who allowed three goals on 36 shot attempts to fall to 6-10 with a 3.07 GAA on the year, including 3-5 with a 3.73 GAA on the road. In his career, he is 16-24 with a 3.26 on the road and 1-2 with a 3.67 GAA against the Blue Jackets.
Blue Jackets Blank The JetsAfter making the playoffs four years in a row, the Blue Jackets missed out last year, but they appear to be headed back in the right direction. Columbus enters this game at 11-6 on the year, including 7-3 in their last 10 games, which puts them in 4th place in the Metro Division and seven points out of first. Columbus has been led by their offense so far as it comes in ranked 6th in the league in scoring at 3.41 gpg. That is a huge improvement over last year when they were 28th in scoring, putting up just 2.39 gpg. In their last game, they shot down the Jets by a score of 3-0, and scoring in the win was Gregory Hofmann (2nd), Zach Werenski (5th), and Andrew Peeke (1st).
Columbus has been great at the other end of the ice this year as they are 20th in goals allowed at 3.00 gpg, but they were strong on this night. It was their first shutout of the year.Pitching the shutout was Elvis Merzlikins, who stopped all 36 shots that he faced to move to 8-3 with a 2.44 GAA ion the year. It was his 1st shutout of the year and the 8th of his career. Merzlikins is slated to get the start here and he is 7-1 with a 1.99 GAA at home for the year and 1-0 with a 1.00 GAA against the Canucks in his career.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
These teams are heading in opposite directions and I expect them to stay that course in this one. The Canucjks have struggled to score of late, putting up just 1.75 gpg over their last eight games and they have gone just 1-7 over that stretch. The offense isn't likely to get much better against Merzlikins, who has gone 7-1 with a 1.99 GAA here at home for the year. The Columbus offense has been one of the best in the league and they will be facing Thatcher Demko, who is 3-5 with a 3.73 GAA on the road. We also note that Columbus is 7-3 in their last 10 games overall, including 4-1 in their last five. Yes, the Canucks have had success in this series but they will not have that in this one.
Full-Game Total Pick
The Blue Jackets are off of a shutout win over the Jets, but that has not been the norm for them this year. They have a strong offense but have been weak at the other end and that has led to their games averaging 6.41 gpg on the year. They have averaged 3.60 gpg here at home and the offense will have a good game against a Vancouver team that has allowed 4.00 gpg on the road. Four plus goals will be in the offing for the Blue Jackets, which means getting at least two from the Canucks will give us an easy Over in this one. The Jackets have allowed 2.50 gpg at home and they have given up two or more goals in all but three games this year, so Vancouver should be able to notch a couple in this game. Lastly, the Over is 4-1-1 in Vancouver's last 6 games as an underdog and 6-0 in Columbus's last 6 games as a favorite.