Free NHL Bets and Picks: Tampa Bay Tries to Slow Down the Blue Jackets
October 19 offers a mix of nine games. The streaking Blue Jackets host the Lightning, the Devils meet the Senators in Ottawa and more. Here are my free NHL bets for Thursday. The odds I am using are found at BetOnline.
Tampa Bay Lightning (+113) at Columbus Blue Jackets (-125)
The Lightning and Blue Jackets enter this matchup with impressive records. The Lightning hold a 5-1-1 record coming in after a loss to New Jersey. Columbus is on a four-game winning streak, which has led them to a 5-1 record.
The Lightning’s power play versus the Blue Jackets penalty kill could be the difference in this game. The Lightning hold a 25.81 power play percentage, while the Blue Jackets have only killed 78.57 percent of their penalties against. On the other side, the Blue Jackets have had difficulty scoring on the man advantage. Columbus has only scored one goal on sixteen tries.
The Blue Jackets hold an advantage in net, if both teams have their starters play. Sergei Bobrovsky is a perfect 4-0 on the season, with a .952 save percentage and a 1.48 GAA. These numbers are staggering, but will not likely hold up all season. Last season Bobrovsky finished his Vezina trophy campaign with a .931 save percentage and a 2.06 GAA.
Bobrovsky will eventually have an off game, which I believe could happen against Tampa Bay’s lethal offense. Nikita Kucherov has a goal in all seven games this season. In total Kucherov has put up eight goals and twelve points. Steven Stamkos also has twelve points, ten of them from assists.
The Lightning have put up a total of twenty-seven goals on the season, which leads to almost an average of four goals per game. If the Lightning continue this trend, it will be hard to beat them. Tampa Bay has also allowed twenty-two goals in seven games, compared to Columbus’s thirteen in six games. The Lightning will need to do a better job of keeping the puck out of the net.
In a battle between two eastern conference power houses, the game could go either way. I believe as the underdogs, Tampa Bay is the better pick. Tampa Bay has proven to be strong this season, battling in each of their games, they hope to stop Columbus from picking up their fifth win in a row on Thursday night.
New Jersey Devils (+130) at Ottawa Senators (-144)
New Jersey has been a surprising team to start the season. Ottawa has proven that they are still the strong team that took the Penguins to seven games in last season’s eastern conference finals. The two teams will meet up in Ottawa on Thursday.
Ottawa sits 3-1-2 on the season, all three losses coming at home. On the other side, New Jersey has started 5-1, going 3-0 on the road. Both trends are not going to continue throughout the season. It is just a matter of time before it ends. I believe the Senators hand New Jersey their first road loss, while getting their first win at home.
The Senators got their Captain, Erik Karlsson, back last game against Vancouver. He had a solid game, but he did not log a point. It will not take long for Karlsson to get points on the board. I expect him to have plenty of chances to log one against New Jersey.
Ottawa has allowed eleven goals in regulation, four of those goals came in the season opener against Washington. Ottawa’s thirty-six-year-old goaltender, Craig Anderson, has been playing great hockey to start the season as well. Anderson has a .926 save percentage as well as a GAA of 1.91. If Ottawa can play this well defensively, they will be able to beat New Jersey on Thursday.
New Jersey’s early season success has been helped by Will Butcher. Butcher was picked up in the offseason from Colorado. The defenseman captained Denver University to a Frozen Four championship in college last season. Now he is tearing it up in the NHL, with nine assists in six games. He leads the team in points.
Ottawa’s defensive style could slow down New Jersey’s shot production. Ottawa allows an average of twenty-eight shots per game. More importantly, Ottawa does not allow second chance shots very often. New Jersey has had enough difficulty creating shot opportunities. They average only twenty-nine shots per game. The league average is closer to thirty-two shots per game.
If Ottawa can impose their defensive style, the Senators could control the game over the Devils. I believe the Senators finally get a victory at home against the Devils on Thursday.