NHL Hockey Betting: Pittsburgh Penguins at Columbus Blue Jackets

NHL Hockey Betting:  Pittsburgh Penguins at Columbus Blue Jackets

When the mercurial John Tortorella took over as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets last season the team was in the midst of another ‘lost season’ due to injury. The question was how ‘Torts’ would do in what was essentially a ‘teaching role’ for the rest of the year. He did very well–probably not a surprise since his coaching ability and knowledge of the game has never been questioned but very surprising to the sports media. Every expectation was that the Blue Jackets would be better than last year but no one expected this. On November 26, the Blue Jackets were a very solid 11-5-4. They haven’t lost since and enter this game on a 10 game winning streak. Some teams go on winning runs and they’re a ‘fluke’ Not Columbus–they’re #2 in goals against per game (2.1), #2 in goals scored per game (3.3), have the #1 power play in the NHL (27.1%) and only their penalty kill is slightly below average (18th at 81.2%).

They’ll take on the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins tonight and they’re 8-0-2 in their last 10 games. Pittsburgh is tied for the second best record in the NHL (1 point behind Chicago) and for the best record in the Eastern Conference. Columbus is one point behind the Penguins. To say that this is a ‘big game’ is an understatement. The goaltending battle is equally titanic as Matt Murray (13-2-1 with a 1.85 goals against average and 0.938 save percentage) faces Sergei Bobrovsky (19-5-2 with a 1.94 goals against average and a 0.932 save percentage).

This game could be a franchise defining game for the Blue Jackets and they catch the Penguins coming off of a great performance in a big matchup as they beat the New York Rangers at home 7-2 last time out. Even with all of the injuries in recent years the Blue Jackets have given the Penguins fits winning 3 of the last 4 at home and 5 of the last 8 overall. Now Pittsburgh is facing Columbus when they’re not only healthy but playing as well as anyone in the NHL. Pittsburgh is playing without Kris Letang and he’s a huge part of what the Penguins do. Columbus’ top scorer Cam Atkinson is listed as ‘questionable’ with a foot injury but hard to think that he doesn’t try to go. It should be an insane environment at the Nationwide Arena tonight.