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Not every division in the NHL is created equally, and while playing in one of the weaker divisions may make fans believe that their team has the inside track to the playoffs, the reality is that the tougher division can prove to be a little more forgiving. This can be seen by taking a look at the Eastern Conference standings right now. While the Atlantic Division is home to the team with the best record in the NHL, it is not really that competitive. The same cannot be said for the Metropolitan Division, where the level of competition is high. The Metropolitan is the tougher of the two, but that strength means that 5 teams from there are currently in playoff spots versus just 3 from the Atlantic. That is good news for both the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Columbus Blue Jackets, both of whom are occupying playoff spots right now. It’s not a huge lead that they have, though, so both teams could use the points on offer in this one. It is the Penguins who will hit the road as a 1 ½ goal favorite, with the goal total for this one set at 5 ½.
When: Thursday, March 12 at 7 PM EST
Where: Nationwide Arena, Columbus
NHL Odds: Get the Latest Odds at YouWager.lv
Why bet on the Pittsburgh Penguins
For a while, it looked as though the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins were going to pull away from the pack and get into a 2-horse race for the Metropolitan Division crown. That has not happened, though, as the Philadelphia Flyers got hot at the same time as the Penguins started to drop. Pittsburgh is now down in 3rd in the division after going just 3-7-0 in their last 10 games. They are rather comfortably in 3rd, though, sitting 5 points up on the pack, while still just 4 points out of the top spot currently being occupied by the Capitals. Pittsburgh has won 10 of their last 12 meetings with the Blue Jackets, including 2 of 3 this season. The lone loss this season came in their last visit to Columbus.
Why bet on the Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets have actually had more losses than wins this season, dropping 37 games versus 33 wins. Where they have been able to stay in this race is by picking up the extra point that comes with an OT or SO loss, which they have done no less than 15 times this season. Overall, the Blue Jackets are now 33-22-15 on the season, with their 81 points good enough to get them into a Wild Card spot, although just 3 points up on the teams below the playoff line. The Blue Jackets are coming into this one off a big road win over the Vancouver Canucks, but they are still just 3-4-3 in their last 10 games. Given that they are involved in so many close games, it should be no surprise that Columbus is 23-11 ATS on the road.
Expert Pick and Final Score Prediction
Columbus has been very good on home ice this season, so I think that the most obvious bet here is to take them against the spread. Neither team is playing particularly well, so don’t be surprised to see a tight game that perhaps goes to OT.
Pittsburgh Penguins 2 Columbus Blue Jackets 3