Friday night should be a good one in the NHL with six different games on the slate. I hit my last forum posted NHL pick which puts my record at 4-1 for the season. I'll be going with two more totals this evening and my notes/picks are below. Feel free to share your thoughts and BOL tonight everyone!
Columbus Blue Jackets @ Washington Capitals
My Pick: Columbus Blue Jackets/Washington Capitals Over 6 (-101) - L
Washington is 3-1-1 Over/Under their previous 5 matchups against Columbus
Washington is 6-4-3 Over/Under their previous 13 home matchups against the Blue Jackets
Washington Recent Games
6-2-1 Over/Under their previous 9 games
7-2-1 Over/Under their previous 10 home games
3-2 Over/Under their previous 5 home games versus Eastern conference teams
9-5 Over/Under their previous 14 home games versus Metropolitan division teams
4-2-1 their previous 7 games versus teams above .500
Columbus Recent Games
7-6 Over/Under their previous 13 games
13-4 Over/Under their previous 17 road games
8-1 Over/Under their previous 9 road games versus Eastern conference teams
5-0 Over/Under their previous 5 road games versus Metropolitan division teams
11-3 their previous 14 games versus teams above .500
7-1 Over/Under their previous 8 games with 2+ days of rest
3-2 Over/Under the first game of their last 5 back-to-backs
We should see Braden Holtby between the pipes for Washington in this one. He's struggled this season, but is coming off a nice win on Wednesday where he stopped 41 of the 42 shots against the Penguins. That officially puts a close to his three-game losing streak. It was also the first time in four games where Holtby has allowed fewer than three goals-against. In fact, through his 11 outings this season Holtby has allowed at least 3 goals in seven of them. In the four games leading up to his last against Pittsburgh, Holtby allowed 4, 4, 3, and 4 goals-against. He owns a 5-3-2 record with a 3.37 goals-against-average and a .899 save percentage this season. His matchup figures to be a tough one tonight as Columbus does really well in divisional matchups. The Blue Jackets have scored at least 3 goals in five of their last seven games, and 3+ goals in every single one of their last 5 road games versus other teams in the Metropolitan division. Outside of the playoffs last season, Holtby allowed 4, 2, 2, and 3 goals-against when playing Columbus. Considering that Columbus is at full-strength, sits 10th in the league for shots taken (32.80) and 10th in the league for average goals this season (3.33) - I think Holtby is in for a tough night and bound to let a few past..
On the other side we should see Sergei Bobrovsky getting the nod at goalie for Columbus. He's also coming off a nice win where he stopped 26 of 27 shots Tuesday against the Stars. Still, that's only his second win out of his last six tries. Bobrovsky owns a 4-6-0 record with a 3.09 goals-against-average and a .902 save percentage this season. He's allowed at least 3 goals-against in six of his ten outings this year and outside of the playoffs last season we saw him give up 1, 4, 3, and 4 goals-against versus the Capitals, with each of the 4 goal games coming in Washington. I don't doubt that Bobrovsky will be busy tonight as Washington is another team that plays well against divisional opponents. They've scored at least 3 goals in six of their last eight versus Metropolitan division teams and the Capitals currently rank 1st in the league for average goals scored (3.71) to go along with 2nd in the league for power play goals scored (1.14). He struggled against them on the road last season, and with Washington at full-strength tonight we could very well see him give up 4 goals again..
Both Holtby and Bobrovsky are coming off nice games against other above .500 teams. Still, I'm not buying it. Both goalies have had their struggles this year and both of these offenses are good enough to take advantage of that. It doesn't hurt that these two teams have also totaled 6 or more goals in three of their last four matchups. I just can't really see the under being an option here, so I'll be rolling with the over!
Colorado Avalanche @ Winnipeg Jets
My Pick: Colorado Avalanche/Winnipeg Jets Under 6 (-100) - L
Winnipeg is 3-7 Over/Under their previous 10 matchups against Colorado
Winnipeg is 2-5 Over/Under their previous 7 home matchups against the Avalanche
Winnipeg Recent Games
0-3-2 Over/Under their previous 5 games
3-6-1 Over/Under their previous 10 home games
5-13-1 Over/Under their previous 19 home games versus Western conference teams
2-6 Over/Under their previous 8 home games versus Central division teams
1-5-1 Over/Under their previous 7 games versus teams above .500
1-3-1 Over/Under their previous 5 games with 2+ days of rest
Colorado Recent Games
4-7 Over/Under their previous 11 games
3-4 Over/Under their previous 7 road games
2-2 Over/Under their previous 4 road games versus Western conference teams
2-4-2 Over/Under their previous 8 road games versus Central division teams
2-4 Over/Under their previous 6 games versus teams above .500
It'll be Connor Hellebuyck between the pipes for Winnipeg and he owns a 5-5-1 record this season with a 3.01 GAA and .907 save percentage. Hellebuyck has had his struggles lately, allowing at least 3 goals in four of his last five. However, he's also been playing quite a few games on short rest. The last outing was his 3rd game in just five days. Hellebuyck has had a few days to rest and gets to draw a home matchup versus an Avalanche team he actually did really well against last season. Through his 4 matchups against Colorado last year we saw him allow just 1, 0, 3, and 3 goals-against with the two lowest games coming in Winnipeg. The Avalanche have certainly been scoring some goals this year. However, when it comes to playing divisional games we've seen them surpass 2 goals just one time in their last four against other teams in the Central division. Colorado sits 4th in the league for average goals scored (3.53), but Winnipeg themselves sit 5th in the league for fewest goals-against (38). I atually see this as a good bounce back spot for Hellebuyck. Colorado is 1-9 SU their previous 10 road games against other teams in the Western conference, and 1-3 SU their previous 4 road games against other teams in the Central division. It actually wouldn't really surprise me to see Colorado once again be capped at just 2 or 3 goals tonight..
On the other side it'll be Semyon Varlamov getting the nod for Colorado. He played well on Wednesday and it was actually one player (Colton Sissons) who beat him on all three goals Nashville scored. Varlamov is now on a four game losing streak, albeit he's played rather well. He owns a 4-4-2 record with a 2.21 GAA and a .934 save percentage this season. Throughout the first 10 outings Varlamov has only allowed more than 3 GA once. Heck, he's allowed 2 or less in seven of them. His matchup today figures to be somewhat favorable considering Winnipeg ranks below the league average in goals scored this season (2.93) - That's actually bottom-12 in the league. They've scored exactly 2 goals in four of their last five and in each of their last two at home. That looks like good news for Varlamov if you ask me, and last season versus the Jets he held them to just 1, 2, 0, and 2 goals-against. Once again, I see this as a pretty good spot for the Russian netminder and I expect he should be able to keep Winnipeg fairly limited. Something like a 2 goal ceiling for the Jets doesn't seem unreasonable in my opinion..
Both of these goalies performed fairly well against the other team last season. Both also had their best games happen when the matchup was played in Winnipeg like it is tonight. Hellebuyck has been in a bit of a slump, but he's had a few days off now and this could be a nice spot to drop his GAA with Colorado being in the midst of a losing streak. At the same time, Winnipeg has had their struggles with actually getting the puck into the net this season. Regardless, I don't see it being a very high scoring game so I'm taking the under here!