NHL Free Pick | Lightning vs. Blue Jackets

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:

After a historic five-overtime loss in Game 1, Columbus showed why it has been a thorn in the side of Tampa Bay for the better part of two years. The Blue Jackets responded to the 3-2 overtime loss with a 3-1 victory in Game 2. 

Can Columbus do it again? Can they pull off another upset of one of the Stanley Cup favorites?

Game: Tampa Bay Lightning (46-23-6) vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (37-23-17) 

When: 7:30 PM ET, Saturday, August 15, 2020 

Where: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON, Canada 

Current Line: TB -162 Total: 5.0

Everyone remembers what the Blue Jackets did in the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs. Tampa Bay came in as the overwhelming favorite, the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and was promptly sent home by Columbus in a four-game sweep. 

The Lightning had tied an NHL record with 62 wins on their way to the President’s Cup. Then, Tampa Bay became the first President’s Cup winner to get swept in a first-round playoff series. 

A sweep will not happen after Tampa Bay’s victory in Game 1, but the Lightning had to work for that win. Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy recorded 61 saves, but was one-upped by Columbus netminder Joonas Korpisalo who set an NHL record with 85 stops. 

Korpisalo was equally good in Game 2 stopping 36 shots allowing only a Nikita Kucherov goal in the first period. The Columbus defense was once again outstanding. During the regular season, the Blue Jackets finished third in goals against average allowing just 2.61 per game. 

Boston, the early favorite to win the Stanley Cup, was first giving up just 2.39 goals per game. Tampa Bay was eighth at 2.77. 

What does all that mean for those betting at a top online sportsbook? Well, it proves that Columbus, which is far less talented than the Lightning, are at the very least going to be in every single game of this seven-game series. 

How good is the Blue Jackets’ defense? Consider the following. 

The Total has gone Under is eight of the last ten Blue Jackets games. In the last six Columbus-Tampa Bay matchups, the Total has gone Under in five of them. 

With all Eastern Conference games being played at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, technically there is no home-ice advantage. That said, Columbus will be the “home” team in Game 3. This is significant because in the last six games against Tampa Bay in which Columbus has been the home team the Total has gone Under in five. 

Since the restart, the Blue Jackets are giving up just 2.0 goals per game. They upset Toronto in their qualification series against the Maple Leafs. Columbus shut out Toronto twice in five games. 

Last season in Game 3 at Nationwide Arena, Columbus scored a 3-1 victory. Whether the Blue Jackets can record back-to-back wins over Tampa Bay or not, the likelihood is high for a low-scoring, close contest. 

With Under 5.0 priced at a best of +125 currently, jump on it now. 

NHL Free Pick: Lightning-Blue Jackets Under 5.0

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