There’s just one game on the NHL schedule Monday night with the trade deadline taking center stage this afternoon. The Columbus Blue Jackets (30-19-14) will aim to snap their eight-game losing streak when they host the Ottawa Senators (21-30-11), who haven’t fared much better recently.
Here is a preview for tonight’s game, along with odds and a free pick.
By the Numbers
We’ll start with the Senators, who have dropped two games in a row by a combined score of 8-1. They are just 3-6-1 over their last 10 contests and sit firmly in seventh place in the Atlantic Division.
This season, Ottawa is 26th in goals with 2.65, averaging 30.3 shots in the process as well. Their offense struggles all-around, as their 8.7 shooting percentage is 23rd, and their power-play percentage of 15 is the fourth-lowest in hockey.
Defense is about the same for the Senators. They are giving up an average of 3.34 goals per game on 33.6 shots, 28th and 29th, respectively. Their penalty kill also struggles, ranking 22nd at 78 percent.
There is no team in hockey more desperate for a win than the Blue Jackets, who come in with eight straight losses. They have, however, earned points in five of those losses and, with a win tonight, would move back into a Wild Card position in the East.
Despite ranking in the top-10 with 32.5 shots per game, Columbus is just 27th in the NHL with 2.57. That’s thanks in large part to the third-lowest shooting percentage of 7.9 and a power-play percentage of 16.5 that sits just 24th.
However, the Blue Jackets have proven to be an elite defensive bunch through and through. Their 2.52 goals allowed is the second-lowest in hockey, with their 29.6 shots allowed being the fourth-fewest. Their 82.1 penalty kill percentage also falls just inside the top-10.
Who to Watch
Ottawa has been getting goal scoring all season from center Jean-Gabriel Pageau. That has been especially apparent over the last week or so, as Pageau scored three goals in a two-game span. He put up six total points between home games against Dallas and Buffalo and now sits at 24 goals and 16 assists this season.
Other standouts for the Senators include Brady Tkachuk and Anthony Duclair. Tkachuk, who represented Ottawa in the All-Star game, had back-to-back multipoint efforts last week and now sits at 18 goals and 20 assists.
He’s eight points shy of passing his point total from his rookie year last year. Meanwhile, Duclair is having a breakout season with 22 goals and 15 assists, which includes three points in his last four games overall.
Columbus took a hit last Thursday with the injury to Oliver Bjorkstrand. Bjorkstrand, who had 21 goals and 36 points, will miss the rest of the regular season after breaking his ankle against the Flyers.
It’s yet another injury for a team that is already without key players like Seth Jones, Brandon Dubinsky, Alexander Wennberg, Josh Anderson, and Cam Atkinson.
With all the injuries, there’s more pressure on the healthy guys who are on the ice. Captain Nick Foligno recently snapped his scoreless streak with a goal and assist Thursday against the Flyers, giving his seven scores and 19 helpers this season.
Another guy is veteran Boone Jenner, who has points in back-to-back games to give him 11 goals and 11 assists. Finally, there’s stud defenseman Zach Werenski, who is now up to 18 goals and 18 assists as well.
Ottawa is expected to run with their backup goalie Marcus Hogberg tonight. Hogberg is 3-7-7 with a 3.07 GAA and .908 save percentage.
Columbus is getting good news on the injury front with the return of Joonas Korpisalo. Korpisalo, who has been out since late-December, is 17-10-4 with a 2.49 GAA and .913 save percentage.
Odds and Pick
Despite all the injuries and the eight-game losing streak, the Blue Jackets are big favorites tonight at -220. They’re at home, where they’ve played well with an 18-11-4 record while facing a Senators team who is a dismal 6-17-5 on the road.
With the return of Korpisalo and playoff spots up for grabs, I’m picking the Blue Jackets to dominate. Expect their defense to dominate and for the healthy forwards to find ways to put pressure on a defense that gives up a ton of chances. Give me the Blue Jackets -220 to snap their losing streak.