NHL Best Bets: Blue Jackets can Handle the Sick Red Wings

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A packed night of hockey lies ahead with 11 games on Tuesday’s NHL slate. The L.A. Kings travel to Boston to take on the suddenly scuffling Bruins, the Maple Leafs try to close the gap on the Sabres in the Atlantic Division and the recently-traded Taylor Hall is expected to make his Coyotes debut when Arizona takes on the Sharks in San Jose.

There’s plenty to wager on, but let’s take a closer look at two games in particular. Here are my two best bets for Tuesday:

Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Detroit Red Wings: Blue Jackets (-135)

This is the game most likely to be ignored by the casual hockey fan tonight, but there’s no better way to instantly make a dull game exciting than having action on it.

There’s an illness spreading through the Red Wings’ dressing room, head coach Jeff Blashill told reporters after a 4-2 home loss to the Kings on Sunday. He said it affected about half his roster. Blashill reportedly canceled the usual on-ice practice for Monday and replaced it with an off-ice practice with players having the option to go on the ice if they wanted. Sounds to me like he’s not expecting his team to be 100% for this game, which is obviously an even bigger problem when you’re the worst team in the NHL.

In addition to the above, Detroit has been prone to bad losing streaks this season. They have eight-game, four-game and 12-game winless streaks under their belt already this season. Will tonight’s game continue that trend and create a new losing streak of two in a row?

The Blue Jackets are playing better than anyone expected this season and are on a four-game point streak after blanking the league-leading Capitals 3-0 on Monday. They’ll need to trust their back-up goaltender Elvis Merzlikins to get his first win of the season or roll Joonas Korpisalo back out there for his second night in a row, but they have the clear talent and health advantage.

Columbus is 9-1-0 in the last 10 meetings, including a 5-4 victory over Detroit on November 21.

Carolina Hurricanes vs. Winnipeg Jets: Over 5.5 goals (-115)

This total feels a little low despite the fact that it’s a matchup between two of the 10 best teams in the NHL in goals against. For starters, they’re also both ranked in the top half of the NHL in goals for and are scoring more lately.

Carolina is averaging 3.4 goals per game in their last five. Winnipeg is averaging 4.0 goals per game in their last six and just scored a season-high seven goals against the Flyers on Sunday. Another factor that should make this a high-scoring game is the Hurricanes’ significant power play advantage. They come in with the fifth-best man-advantage against the Jets’ fourth-worst penalty killing unit.

These two teams haven’t met this season, but back in March the Jets destroyed the Hurricanes 8-1 with largely the same roster. We’re likely not getting a blowout like that, but there should be plenty of offense.

Season Record: 13-12-1 (+0.75 units)