NHL Monday best bets: Jets to take flight

Gerry Thomas / National Hockey League / Getty

We're heading for a busy Monday night on the ice, with six games scheduled to open the week.

Let's get into our best bets.

Blue Jackets (-125) @ Sabres (+105)

The Blue Jackets have been a surprisingly good team in the early going. They own a solid 9-6-0 record and are full value for their success, especially of late.

Columbus has won six of its last 10, controlling 54.15% of the expected goals at five-on-five in that span. That's the sixth-highest output in the NHL, slotting them just ahead of clubs like the Wild and Panthers. Good company!

Things haven't gone as swimmingly for the Sabres. Buffalo's won just two of its last 10 contests, posting a 43.26 xGF% in that time - only the lowly Blackhawks have fared worse.

The Sabres are getting significantly outplayed on a nightly basis without the shooting talent to out-score their problems, and their goaltending isn't strong enough to keep them around in games they don't belong in.

I expect the Blue Jackets to take advantage of this fatigued Buffalo team - this is the side's third game in four nights - and get back on track with a win.

Bet: Blue Jackets (-125)

Penguins (+100) @ Jets (-120)

For years, the Jets have been a mediocre five-on-five team that's won games on the back of high-end shooting and high-end goaltending. It has served Winnipeg well in the regular season but has led to little success in the playoffs when facing other top clubs they can't just beat on talent.

This Jets squad is much different than those of the past. They're good - very good, even - at full-strength, and that has made Winnipeg a much more complete team capable of hanging with the best.

And it's leading to strong results. The Jets have picked up at least a point in eight of their last 10 games and controlled a league-leading 57.36% of the expected goals in that time.

With Kyle Connor, Nik Ehlers, Mark Scheifele, and a resurgent Pierre-Luc Dubois up front headlining the team, we know Winnipeg has the firepower to convert at a high rate over time - but the club's generating so much offense that they don't even need to be opportunistic.

The Jets, believe it or not, are 29th in shooting percentage during this strong run of results, but they rank second in attempts and high-danger chances per 60, so it hasn't even mattered.

If Winnipeg can sustain anywhere close to this level of play, the unit's going to feel unbeatable when its top shooters reach their full potential.

While the Penguins are very strong, especially defensively, they're not playing as well as the Jets at five-on-five. Pittsburgh doesn't have a goaltender close to Connor Hellebuyck's caliber, either, so Winnipeg has the edge in goal. Oh, and the Jets are at home - where they own a 7-1-1 record on the year.

Back Winnipeg to snap out of this mini losing streak and take care of business on home ice.

Bet: Jets (-120)

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NHL Monday best bets: Jets to take flight
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