Nobody would say that Winnipeg is in bad shape ahead of the January 30th NHL free pick. After all the Jets are in 2nd in the Western Conference and their 66 points are the third most in the league. That being said, Thursday night’s contest with the Blue Jackets isn’t going to be easy. Not only is Columbus a playoff contender in the East, Winnipeg is already playing their 3rd game since the all-star break.
Columbus Needs a Win Big Time
Dating back before the all-star break, Columbus has lost three in a row including a 4-5 defeat at home to Buffalo on Tuesday. The Blue Jackets aren’t as big of underdogs as you’d think Thursday listed at just +125 in Winnipeg. Columbus is a very solid road team with a 14-8-1 record away from Nationwide Arena. Oddsmakers are expecting a high scoring affair in the January 31st NHL free pick listing the total at 6.5. The Blue Jackets top 10 scoring offense has been hit or miss lately but they do have 4+ goals in 3 of 5. Columbus has also been held to just 2 goals total in the other two contests however.
The Blue Jackets have a good chance at putting up some solid offensive numbers tonight. Cam Atkinson has scored a goal in 4 of 6, Pierre Luc-Dubois has 8 points in 7 games and Artemi Panarin has 6 goals in 8 games. Obviously the all-star break kills some momentum but you have to like those offensive presences. That puts pressure on G Sergei Bobrovsky who is 1-3 his last four, allowing 16 goals over that span.
Jets Tired after Action Packed Week?
Winnipeg is finally, finally back home at Bell MTS Place having not played in front of their own crowd since January 15th. The NHL schedule makers have done the Jets no favors in scheduling a back-to-back Monday and Tuesday in the first two games out of the Winter break, both of which were on the road. Winnipeg did get a shootout win in Boston on Tuesday so they should have momentum heading back home for the January 31st NHL free pick. The Jets are 18-6-1 on their own ice this year and at the very least had a night off Wednesday to recharge a bit.
Can Winnipeg’s potent offense be the key on Thursday – especially back at home? The Jets have netted at least 4 scores in their last five home games. That offensive surge has also come with Patrik Laine in a bit of a slump as he hasn’t scored a goal and has just one point in the last five games. Blake Wheeler has picked up the slack with 12 points in the last 10 games as the RW is 2nd in the NHL in helpers. Connor Hellebuyck has a solid 4-2 record over his last six, but he’s also allowed 3+ goals in five of those games.
January 31st NHL Free Pick Betting
It’s not ideal for Winnipeg to be such heavy favorites playing in their 3rd game in 4 nights. This team is ready to get back home however and they host a Blue Jackets team that has dropped 3 in a row. The Jets are a near puck line play but you can’t underestimate their fatigue.
NHL Free Pick: Winnipeg Jets -145