NHL Picks: Blue Jackets vs. Wild

David Lawrence

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 12:44 PM GMT

It’s not often that I find myself playing the puck line in the NHL but bettors are quite aware that there is some value to be had there. On Tuesday night, it looks like that’s exactly the case when the Columbus Blue Jackets visit the Minnesota Wild.

The NHL odds makers list the Wild as a big favorite but the puck line is where the best value lies for our NHL picks in this game.

[gameodds]7/218178/43/us[/gameodds]

The Columbus Blue Jackets can win because…

The Wild are struggling right now. While their season started positively with two straight wins, the Wild have since lost three in a row. While it’s one thing to lose a couple of games here and there, the bigger concern for Minnesota has to be that their defense has completely broken down.

Over their last three games, the Wild have allowed at least three goals each time while giving up a total of 13 in the process. They’ve been alternating goaltenders every game this season and it hasn’t helped. Backstrom has just one win in three starts while Harding is 1-1. Backstrom’s save percentage is just .885.

If the Blue Jackets can get to three goals in this game – as the Wild’s last three opponents have –they’ll have a great shot to win it.

The Minnesota Wild can win because…

The Blue Jackets haven’t been very good to start the season and now find themselves in a tough spot on Tuesday. The Blue Jackets are not only in a back-to-back situation and playing their third game in four nights, but this will be their fifth game in seven nights. We knew that the condensed NHL schedule was going to have an impact and it should in this contest.

The Blue Jackets started in Phoenix last Wednesday, played in Colorado on Thursday, came home to face Chicago on Saturday and Dallas on Monday, and now have to play in Minnesota on Tuesday. That’s quite the travel schedule.

Beyond that, there’s a noticeable difference in quality between these days. The Blue Jackets have been very sluggish to start the season as their offense has been feeble without Rick Nash and their defense hasn’t been very good either. On the flip side, the Wild have lost three straight but at least those three losses came against teams that made the playoffs last season with two of those games being on the road. On the whole, the Wild are still 2-1-0 at home this season.

Look for the Wild to take advantage of a fatigued Blue Jackets team and get back on track with a good win.

For a play on this game's total and more free selections, check out my 'NHL Picks of the Day' article.

Outlook & NHL Betting Prediction:

The Wild are the better of the two teams here and while they are relatively rested after having a day off on Monday, the Blue Jackets could be out of gas by the time they get to Minnesota. It will be the Blue Jackets fifth game in seven nights, which is as jam-packed a schedule as any team can have.

I am offering you another one of my free sports picks on the Wild with the puck line in this spot. I don’t want to lay -180 with them but I still think they’ll win, so I’ll lay the 1.5 to get big plus-odds.

NHL Picks: Wild -1.5 +170