NHL Best Bets: Dec. 30

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  • Columbus Blue Jackets
    Columbus Blue Jackets
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  • Nashville Predators
    Nashville Predators
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What’s going on my hockey bettors! I feel like it’s been a lifetime since I’ve done a wagering write-up given all the circumstances in the world and around the NHL, but at last here we are again! Tonight we have the largest slate in quite some time with seven games slated to drop puck starting at 7 pm eastern time. As you all know things change by the hour so if you are wagering tonight keep an eye out on the lineups and news feeds in case impact players are taken off the board this evening. With that noted let’s get right into it, here are the angles I am looking at this evening!

Nashville Predators @ Columbus Blue Jackets 7:00 pm ET

Sometimes a break is just what a team needs to get out of a hole and I believe that could be the case for the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight. Before the holiday break, the Jackets were a miserable team losing eight of 10 games after starting the season on decent footing. One reason for the slide has been their play away from home as they are 5-10 straight up on the road. I don’t know if I’ll bet on Columbus the rest of the season as the away side but at home, it’s a different story. The Jackets have found what works in the comforts of the Nationwide Arena this season going 9-3-1 on home ice. Given the circumstances of the league and its COVID-19 outbreaks, this unit right now is relatively intact with Oliver Bjorkstrand still out. Elvis Merzlikins is already confirmed in the net for tonight and that is good news for backing the Jackets tonight as he is the only goaltender over .500 on the roster at 11-7-1 right now and is sporting an SV% of .911.

On the away side for tonight’s matchup are the Nashville Predators who come into this matchup having played just last night losing to the Capitals on the road. Playing two games in as many days is rough on any team but especially if it requires overnight travel on top of that. Knowing that this is a back-to-back situation that means we should see backup goaltender David Rittich in the cage tonight with his 3.10 GAA and .880 SV%, both of which are very mediocre marks for an NHL goaltender. The Preds also have large holes in their lineup now with Roman Josi, Colton Sissons and possibly Matt Duchene expected to miss tonight’s matchup.

Our NBC Sports Edge game predictor engine has Columbus winning on the Money Line in its highest confidence rating tonight. It's worth noting that the model is 71-32 on the season in such bets! The Predators were hot, and the Blue Jackets were not but a weeklong break from the action will have an impact on things, I like Columbus at home tonight to win outright.

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Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames Player Prop

The Calgary Flames have been one of the best stories thus far in 2021 as they have risen from mediocre play in past seasons to becoming a force in the Pacific Division. They have done this by establishing one of the best defenses in the NHL and on the other end producing a top 12 scoring offense at 3.04 goals per game. The catalyst for the offense has been Johnny “Hockey” Gaudreau who leads this team in points scored this season with 30 total tallies at this juncture. Gaudreau has been busy all season as noted but also recently scoring points in five of his last six games, most of which have been assists. Gaudreau has also been busy on the road this season with 14 of his 20 helpers being had on the away side. Splits aren’t everything but they do paint a picture of player production to a certain extent. On the very surface, Johnny is a good bet to find the score sheet in any game he plays in but against the Seattle Kraken, those odds go up significantly!

The Kraken have been disappointing this season in part because of the unfair expectation that Vegas created with their inaugural season but also because the defensive play has just been rotten. Seattle has allowed 3.55 goals per game this season which is the 4th highest mark in the NHL and the once-great tandem of Philip Grubauer and Chris Driedger can’t stop beach balls right now. Early indications are saying that Driedger will man the net tonight but if it turns out to be Grubauer, I am comfortable with this bet regardless. Both goaltenders allow over 3.20 goals per game and have SV% under the .900 line. That's not ideal at all!

The Kraken also have a lackluster penalty kill unit that will serve as an advantage for Gaudreau as he runs the Flames top power-play team. One more thing to note is that Vegas has the over of 5.5 goals juiced to -125 so they are suggesting slightly that this one will go over and that’s good for any kind of player prop going over as well! There isn’t much value at -250 for Johnny to get a point tonight so I am going to refine that to him having at least 1 assist tonight at -130, much better.

The Picks:

Columbus Blue Jackets, Money Line (-110 on PointsBet)

Johnny Gaudreau, Over 0.5 Assists (-130 on PointsBet)

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