Jackets to Back Tortorella’s Claim and Tie Series vs. Caps Monday

Dana Lane

Sunday, April 22, 2018 8:12 PM UTC

Sunday, Apr. 22, 2018 8:12 PM UTC

Despite a loss in Game 5, Columbus is still a sparkling 11-5 in its last 16 games against Eastern Conference opponents. That trend could pay off in Game 6 against Washington. 

NHL Monday: Capitals vs. Blue JacketsFree NHL Pick: Blue Jackets +1.5, -300Best Line Offered: Pinnacle

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You have to love Columbus coach John Tortorella after guaranteeing the Blue Jackets would be back in Washington for a Game 7 against the Capitals. Many in the media thought Torts had softened up a bit, but nothing like the postseason to get the old juices flowing again. Before he can get to a Game 7, however, his Jackets need to take care of business in Game 6 on Monday night (7:30 ET; CNBC).

Columbus opened a slight favorite (-106) on the NHL odds board, but the "sharps" made their feelings known that they are all in with the Capitals getting even money at most sportsbooks. Heritage will give you the only plus money on the board with Columbus at +101. The general public disagrees, with more than 70% of all wagers in favor of the Blue Jackets.

It’s easy to see what the "wise guys" see this as a Capitals win. Washington has beaten the Jackets in nine of the last 12 meetings overall and in four of five in Columbus.

The "over" is 18-7-1 when Barry Trotz’s Capitals play against teams with a winning record, while Columbus has cashed "over" tickets in nine of their last 11 games. With the exception of Game 5, the total has opened at 5.5 as it is Monday night, shaded to the "under" (-110). A little surprising that we haven’t seen more "over" wagers but 54% of the public likes the "under," a thought I’m not on board with but don’t have a strong enough opinion to make it an official release with my NHL picks.

Had it not been for a deflection off of Nicklas Backstrom in overtime of Game 5 we may had seen a different result. But this is hockey and no matter how much better the Jackets played than the Caps 5-on-5, they made too many mistakes while committing too many untimely penalties that couldn’t be made up in their 42-29 shot advantage.

The statistic I like the most in the postseason is blocked shots. It can give you a real understanding of which team wants it more. In Game 5 the Jackets held a 28-20 edge in blocks and for the series own a 115-92 edge. The Jackets' 115 shots blocked easily are the most of any team in the postseason, with Washington at No. 3. Columbus is third with 42 takeaways but they’re also first in missed shots with almost 17 a game.

You can see where Tortorella’s confidence comes from. He and I both know that the Jackets have more grit and are the better team.

Take the Jackets in Game 6.

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