December 31, 2016

Blue Jackets @ Wild NHL Handicap Betting Preview – Saturday 31st December by @The_Drewse

Columbus Blue Jackets @ Minnesota Wild – Xcel Energy Center at 23:00

This Handicap Betting preview sees the matchup between the most in-form teams in the NHL. Both Columbus and Minnesota will make history for tonight’s game as it will be the first time in any of the four major North American professional sports leagues that two teams will face each other with a win streak of at least 12 games.

Columbus Still marching On

I still cannot fathom the incredible run that the Blue Jackets have gone on. They are currently on a 14-game winning streak, the third-longest in NHL history. The franchise are 3 games away from equalling the record set by the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins. It is a complete transformation for the franchise that started the last campaign with 8 consecutive losses that inevitably led to the dismissal of Todd Richards. His successor John Tortorella steadied the ship in an unspectacular manner as they finished last in their division with a 34-40-8 record. This makes the landmark run that Columbus are currently on even more striking.

The MVP for the Blue Jackets so far has been goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. The Russian has recaptured the form that saw him win the Vezina in 2013. Prior to the season I did presume that Bobrovsky would steal the Blue Jackets a couple of wins but he has been supported by an excellent cast. The player who stands out the most for me is Sam Gagner who has 28 points (14G 14A) in 33 games. The centre is finally fulfilling the potential that saw him drafted 6th overall in 2007.

Minnesota Aiming to Rule the Roost in the West

Minnesota have also been bubbling under the surface as they have caught the tail of the Blackhawks. It is also worth noting that the Wild have 4 games in hand over Chicago. Unlike the Blue Jackets, Minnesota were expected to be in contention for a playoff position having made the postseason for the past 3 years. Head coach Bruce Boudreau has done a sterling job with the Wild. The Canadian was hired in the offseason following his dismissal by the Anaheim Ducks. He has an impressive regular season record, on the other hand his postseason record leaves a lot to be desired.

Just like Bobrovsky, Wild’s goaltender Devan Dubnyk has been their saviour. His numbers are even more impressive than his counterpart:

Bobrovsky – GP: 30 GAA: 1.95 SVS%: .934

Dubnyk: – GP: 28 GAA: 1.67 SVS%: .944

Both goaltenders have laid down the foundations for their respective sides winning streaks. They have also enhanced the underappreciated (in my opinion) position of goalie.

Prediction

Both sides are on historic franchise runs nonetheless one will come to a halt tonight. Columbus have been very strong on the road this campaign with a 11-2-3 record. Meanwhile Minnesota have made the Xcel Energy Center a fortress with 13 wins and only 3 losses in regulation. The value on Minnesota to win in regulation (2.37) is too tempting to resist. I believe that Dubnyk can steal the game for Minnesota and keep their streak alive whilst distinguishing the Blue Jackets’.

Handicap Betting Recommendation: Minnesota -0.5 at 2.37 (excluding OT)

Prices correct at time of writing

By @The_Drewse

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