Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#53 Minnesota Wild 5.5 vs.
#54 Columbus Blue Jackets -130
Friday, February 28, 2020 at 7:05pm EST
Nationwide Arena, Columbus
Written by The Admiral

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Minnesota Wild vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

NHL: Friday, February 28, Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio, 7:00 PM ET

The Minnesota Wild opened a two-game road trip Thursday night in Detroit and will play back-to-back in Columbus on Friday. On the other side, the Blue Jackets will start a two-game homestand after losing nine of their previous 10 games overall including four of their last five contests at Nationwide Arena.

The Wild and Blue Jackets will face off for the second time in just four days. Minnesota outlasted Columbus 5-4 as a -160 home fave this past Tuesday, recording its second straight victory over the Blue Jackets.

The Wild continue chasing the wild-card spot in the West

Before they visited the worst team in the league Thursday night, the Wild beat the Blue Jackets 5-4 to snap a three-game home skid. They won the first period 2-1, while Mikko Koivu netted twice in the second period to help his team build a three-goal lead. The Wild took 40 shots towards the Blue Jackets goalie and fully deserved to grab two points in the regulation.

Minnesota was sitting at the sixth spot of the Central Division standings on Thursday, 13 points behind the third-place Dallas Stars. Still, the Wild were only three points behind the bottom wild card in the West, so they are pretty much alive in the playoff race. Minnesota missed this past postseason after reaching the playoffs for six straight years.

Alex Stalock guarded the cage against the Blue Jackets, tallying 24 stops with a .857 save percentage. He should get another starting call against Columbus on Friday, while Stalock is 16-9-4 on the season and has a 2.74 GAA and a .907 save percentage. The Wild are 25th in the league in goals against (3.19) and 16th in goals scored per game (3.05).

The Blue Jackets have to find their defensive mojo

Columbus allowed five goals to Minnesota on Tuesday, surrendering three or more goals for the eighth straight outing. Before they lost to the Wild, the Blue Jackets put an end to an eight-game losing streak with a 4-3 overtime victory over the Ottawa Senators on the home ice. Joonas Korpisalo returned from an injury and posted 14 saves with a .933 save percentage in that win to the Senators, but Matiss Kivlenieks guarded the cage against the Wild.

Elvis Merzlikins (12-9-8, 2.39 GAA) is questionable to play Friday night, so we expect to see Joonas Korpisalo between the pipes. Korpisalo is 18-10-4 on the season and has a 2.48 GAA and a .914 save percentage. The Blue Jackets are third in the league in goals against (2.57) and desperately need to restore their good defense.

On the other side, the Blue Jackets are the fifth-most inefficient team in the league, scoring only 2.62 goals per game. They sit at the fifth spot of the Metropolitan Division standings, three points behind the third-place Philadelphia Flyers, but the Blue Jackets hold the bottom wild card, just two points ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

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The Blue Jackets are without a couple of defensemen which is a reason why their defense has collapsed over the last few weeks. Still, the Blue Jackets possess the depth to overcome those issues, while Joonas Korpisalo’s return will boost their confidence. Hereof, I expect the Blue Jackets to finally put on a solid defensive performance and beat the Wild in front of the home fans. Minnesota is one of the most unpredictable teams in the league, and the Wild have been struggling defensively all season long. They allowed four goals to Columbus four days ago, and I assume they are capable of scoring five once again.

Prediction: Columbus Blue Jackets (-125)

Full-Game Total Pick

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If you like to follow betting trends, you should know that the over has hit in Columbus’ six straight outings and three of Minnesota’s previous four showings, but the under is 12-4-2 in the last 18 encounters between these two interconference foes. As I’ve already mentioned above, the Blue Jackets have to bounce back, and the only way to do it is by playing tough defense. Despite some serious defensive woes over the last few weeks, the Blue Jackets are still the third-best defensive team in the NHL. Therefore, I don’t expect to see a bunch of goals in this one. The stake is huge for both teams, so I’m looking for a cautious approach on both sides. Give me the under on the totals.

Prediction: Under 5.5 goals (-105)
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Written By The Admiral

You want someone to show you how to make some money, then talk to the Admiral, because he is your man. He has been handicapping for many years, so the Admiral knows a thing or two on how to beat the spread and get your pockets loaded with cash. The Admiral has brought his talents to StatSalt & Winners & Whiners and will always find the best pick for you.