The NHL season is currently suspended due to the coronavirus, with many believing that the regular season is not going to be finished this year but that the league will skip right to the playoffs – even if all games are played with no fans in attendance. Here’s a look at a first-round matchup of Eastern Conference No. 1 Boston Bruins and No. 8 Columbus Blue Jackets. Let’s see how the NHL odds could be for the Bruins vs Blue Jackets.
NHL projected playoff matchup: Bruins vs Blue Jackets
- Odds to win Eastern Conference: Bruins +325, Blue Jackets +3000
- Odds to win Stanley Cup: Bruins +500, Blue Jackets +10000
Boston is the only team in the league to hit the 100-point mark so far and thus would have home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs as thing stand. Excellent Bruins center Patrice Bergeron admitted it’s hard not knowing if the playoffs will happen or not.
“I think as you get older you realize that you need to make the most of every opportunity since they might not come by often,” Bergeron said. “That being said, this is out of our control. What should be on our minds right now is everyone’s safety. Still, it is hard knowing that we have a great team, not certain if there will be a playoff and a Stanley Cup to compete for.”
Columbus is tied with Carolina for the last two Wild-Card spots in the East at 81 points, but the Hurricanes win that tiebreaker. The Jackets’ Zach Werenski was the leading goal scorer among defensemen prior to the pause of the 2019-20 season. Werenski was the only 20-goal scorer among defensemen before the hiatus. His previous best for goals in a single season came in 2017-18 during his sophomore year when he lit the lamp 16 times in 77 appearances.
Right winger Oliver Bjorkstrand might be good to go if the NHL resumes play. Bjorkstrand had “tightrope fixation” surgery on March 3 to stabilize his ankle and speed up the healing process. He could be recovered by mid-to-late April after he was given an eight-to-10 timetable for his return. Top defenseman Seth Jones also might be ready to play when/if there’s a season. Jones underwent “tightrope fixation” surgery on his ankle Feb. 11 and he was given a timetable of eight-to-10-weeks for his recovery.
These teams played twice this season and Columbus won both. On Jan. 2, the Jackets prevailed 2-1 in overtime at TD Garden. Jones got by Bruins forward David Krejci deep in the Blue Jackets zone and then stickhandled David Pastrnak onto the back of his skates. From there, he and Pierre-Luc Dubois had a wide-open 2-on-1 for the game-winner. Sonny Milano also scored for the Blue Jackets and rookie Elvis Merzlikins got the win in net with 25 saves. Usual Columbus No. 1 Joonas Korpisalo was out injured. David Pastrnak scored for Boston and Tuukka Rask had 31 saves.
On Jan. 14, the Jackets won 3-0 at home. Merzlikins had the shutout and Alexander Wennberg, Kevin Stenlund and Riley Nash scored for Columbus. Boston goaltender Jaroslav Halak entered the game at 1:12 of the first period after Tuukka Rask was inadvertently struck in the head by an elbow in the crease. Halak stopped 24 shots in relief.
Goaltending was supposed to be an area of weakness for Columbus this season but Merzlikins (a virtual unknown) leveled up, especially when Korpisalo went down because of injury. The rookie has five shutouts and a .935 save percentage through 31 starts.