The Columbus Blue Jackets begin the 2021 NHL season as short road dogs in Nashville vs the Predators. Online sports betting welcomes ice hockey back into the fold, as football season winds toward its conclusion. NHL betting is back, so submit your betting slips at our sportsbook before the puck drops on this one! There’s money to be made on this opening night matchup between Columbus and Nashville on Jan 14.
Columbus Blue Jackets vs Nashville Predators
Thursday, 8 p.m. EST on FOX
Bridgestone Arena- Nashville, TN
NHL Betting Vitals
Puck Line: Blue Jackets + 1 ½ (-265), Predators -1 ½ (+225)
Money Line: Blue Jackets (Ev), Predators -120
Goal Totals: 5 ½
Columbus Goalie Tandem Great for Compressed Season
Having two excellent goalies will prove to be extremely handy when embarking on this shortened 2021 NHL season. Both Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo are capable starters in goal, and having this talented platoon benefits the Blue Jackets. Merzlikins finished the 2019-20 regular season with 13 wins, a 2.35 GAA, a .923 SV%, and five shutouts.
Korpisalo recorded 19 wins to go along with a 2.60 GAA, a save percentage of .911, and two SOs. The go-to guy for Columbus during last season’s playoffs was Korpisalo, but statistically, Korpisalo and Merzlikins played similarly. The Blue Jackets ultimately lost a wild first-round series with the eventual Stanley Cup champion Lightning, 4-1.
Merzlikins is expected to get the nod for Columbus in Nashville on Thursday, but either goalie is a solid option. Last season, Merzlikins suffered a 4-3 shootout loss to the Predators in Bridgestone Arena on Feb 22. Nashville G Jusse Saros (17-12-4, 2.70 GAA, .914 SV% in 2020) won that February game and faces Merzlikins again here.
Predators Heading Towards Extinction?
There were moments during the Predators’ 2020 Cup Qualifier series with the Coyotes that Nashville’s players seemed old and antiquated. After winning the first game 4-2, the Preds lost three straight to the Coyotes, en route to early elimination. One has to wonder if the Predators are heading towards extinction, just like the saber-toothed tiger logo Nashville sports.
After stockpiling top-six forward talent for years without much success, the Predators’ strategy seems to have fizzled. New Nashville head coach John Hynes is sub-.500 for his career, and only helped the NJ Devils to one playoff appearance in 2018. The Predators have some quality players, and currently have the fourth-strongest NHL division odds in the realigned Central Division.
Tampa Bay, Carolina, and Dallas are all rated as more probable than Nashville to win the Central. The Blue Jackets are projecting to finish behind Nashville, in fifth place, and consequently out of the playoffs. My money is on Columbus to clinch the fourth spot (at the least), and for Nashville to be in the bottom half of the division.
Blue Jackets Moneyline and the Over
The Blue Jackets +1½ is certainly attractive, but the corresponding payout is not. You won’t collect much cash at -265, and Columbus is going to win the game outright anyway. Bet the Blue Jackets’ moneyline at even money, and laugh all the way to the bank. Saros has never been an NHL starter, and Columbus is a spunky, gritty bunch.
Offense is never a problem when the Blue Jackets and Predators faceoff, so get in on that betting action too. The over has hit in four straight meetings between these division rivals, and there will be fireworks in Nashville. Make sure you’ve got a room with a view.
Free NHL Pick Moneyline: Columbus Blue Jackets (Ev)
Free NHL Pick O/U: Goal Total Over 5½
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