Grab Blue Jackets Valuable Odds Against Lightning With Your Sunday NHL Picks

Swinging Johnson

Sunday, March 13, 2016 1:29 PM GMT

The Lightning will try to get well in Columbus after dropping their last three games while the Blue Jackets are merely playing out the string. Let's review the NHL odds.

Tampa Bay Lightning (39-29, -0.1 unit)
Tampa Bay made a bold bid to the Stanley Cup Finals last season before falling to the Blackhawks in the championship round. Now here they sit, poised for another playoff run only three points out of first place in the Atlantic Division with two games in hand yet also perilously close to a wild card entry and only seven points removed from getting ousted from the postseason entirely. They say there is a fine line between genius and jackass (okay, I said that) and there is also a definitive line between celebrating a division title and bemoaning a lost opportunity. As of late, the Lightning must be fixated on the latter after losing three straight at a critical juncture in the season.

The Philadelphia Flyers, currently the team with their nose pressed hard against the metaphorical playoff bubble, notched two crucial wins over the Lightning within a span of four days. On Monday night they welcomed Tampa Bay to the City of Brotherly Love then sent them packing with a 4-2 defeat in hand.

The Lighting, looking to avenge the loss, desperately wanted to pay their northern neighbors back but found themselves on the short end of a 3-1 decision, installed as -175 home chalk by the NHL odds makers. Sandwiched in between was a loss to the top team in the Atlantic, the Boston Bruins, where they bowed 1-0 in overtime suffering the first of what would be two consecutive home losses.

 

Columbus Blue Jackets (28-40, -9.7 units)
The Blue Jackets are mired in the muck of the Metropolitan Division with 64 points and no shot of doing anything at the end of the regular season except making vacation plans. Yet to their credit they have won four of the last seven and continue to battle for head coach John Tortorella. The Jackets saw their four game home winning streak snapped in their last outing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 3-2 home loss. It was the return of Columbus's starting netminder Sergei Bobrovsky and he held up well turning aside 28 shots after a 19 game absence.

The loss was the first of a five-game homestand for the Blue Jackets but it had silver linings with Bobrovsky's groin no worse for the wear after the game and it also saw Gregory Campbell tally a lamplighter for the first time in 47 games. Left winger Brandon Saad missed his third straight game with an upper-body injury but has been cleared to suit up this afternoon against the Lightning.

 

Betting Analysis
The Lightning have defeated the Blue Jackets in their two previous games this season by the scores of 2-1 (in Columbus) and 5-2 (in Tampa Bay). However, the teams have split the last four meetings in Columbus and here we have a Jackets' team that may be playing its best hockey of the season while the Lightning are sputtering.

Yes, the Lightning are the better club overall, with a spectacular goalie in Ben Bishop and ranked 12th on offense. However, Columbus has held their own when playing the Lightning on their home ice and there is no doubt the addition of Sergei Bobrovsky will give the entire team an added boost.

If this game was even would I bet the Lightning? The answer is yes but when we consider that we are getting plenty of return from the oddsmakers on a home team that is playing far better than their season record indicates I will include the Jackets in my NHL picks if based on nothing more than betting value. Watch the Jackets give the Lightning all they can handle.

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NHL Pick: Columbus +140
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline