NHL Betting Picks: Columbus Blue Jackets at St. Louis Blues

NHL Betting Picks:  Columbus Blue Jackets at St. Louis Blues

The Columbus Blue Jackets haven’t had much success since entering the NHL as an expansion team in 2000. They’ve made the playoffs only once–in 2009–and that year they were swept 4-0 by the Detroit Red Wings in the first round. They started the shortened 2012-2013 season looking like it would be more of the same but then something strange happened–the Jackets started playing decent hockey. They’re currently just outside of playoff consideration and tonight will face a team that is just ahead of them in the Western Conference standings as they play the Blues in St. Louis.

Columbus made a very big move at the NHL trade line when they acquired Marian Gaborik from the New York Rangers. Gaborik had disappointed this season in New York but based on his first game in a Blue Jackets’ uniform could have just needed a change of scenery–he had a goal and an assist in his Columbus debut, a 3-1 road win over Nashville. The Gaborik led Jackets could pick up another two points in this matchup as they face the St. Louis Blues. The Blues started the season with Stanley Cup aspirations but have slumped after a strong start due in large part to a rash of injuries. The Blues have steadied the ship but are far off the pace from where they wanted to be at this stage of the season.

The Jackets have lost both meetings with St. Louis this year but are coming off the best month in franchise history in March and are now 1-0 in the month of April. Both teams played last night, with the Blues winning in overtime at Chicago. Still, there appears to be more upside with the Jackets who are simply a different team now than they were at the start of the season and could get yet another boost from the acquisition of the brutally talented Gaborik. It sends a strong signal to the team to be ‘buyers’ rather than ‘sellers’ at the trade deadline and the franchise’s second playoff berth is a very realistic goal. The Western Conference is very tightly bunched as it seems to be every year. Chicago and Anaheim have pulled away from the pack, but only 11 points separate third place Vancouver from 13th place Dallas. Columbus is currently tied for 9th place with Edmonton and just one point back of 8th place St. Louis for the final playoff spot in the West. And they could move up from there–the Jackets are 2 points back of 7th place Detroit, 5 points back of Dallas and San Jose in 5th and 6th and 6 points back of 4th place Los Angeles.

This could be a special season in Columbus and at the very least this is an evenly matched contest in which the up and coming road team presents a solid wagering value.