Canadien’s vs. Canuck’s Odds
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Despite holding a better record at 12-11-1 and playing out of the NHL’s toughest division, the Montreal Canadiens enter as heavy underdogs tonight in a matchup versus the underachieving Vancouver Canucks.
Vancouver has stabilized after a nightmare start, but is still skating with some real concerns on the blue-line, which have consistently been exposed by deeper sides.
Are the Canadiens a live underdog at +170?
Canadien’s Not As Good As Record?
Montreal’s 12-11-1 record in an extremely competitive Atlantic division is certainly a positive comment towards coach Martin St. Louis and the consistent level of his young side.
However, it has been clear on a number of nights of late that Montreal stole results it did not deserve. And as happens every year, we see teams simply commanded for the randomness of the opposition.
A strong example of being fooled by this randomness was Montreal’s shocking 2-1 win versus Calgary.
Montreal was greatly applauded for the win in which it scored an ugly goal a minute in and a clutch late powerplay marker. But otherwise, it was completely dominated. The difference was truly just the Flames not finishing looks that it should have.
Montreal has seen spectacular performances from Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield and even Sean Monahan, but otherwise, it offers little in the way of strong NHL talent.
Over Montreal’s last 10 games, it owns the second-worst expected goals rating % in the league at 40.84, which has been largely hidden by its modest 5-5-0 record.
The average team faced throughout that sample currently resides at 21.6th place on average, which makes it an even greater concern that Montreal has been heavily outplayed throughout that sample.
Spectacular goaltending from Jake Allen and Sam Montembeault continues to hide shaky defensive play. Over the last 10, Montreal has allowed a league-worst xGA/60 of 3.96 and is due for more nights like we saw last time out in Edmonton (5-3 loss) moving forward.
My expectation is that Montembeault sneaks in a start on Monday — since he has not played yet on this Western road swing and since Allen had a tough night Saturday. Confirmation towards that will come after the morning skate, though.
Montembeault has played to a +6.3 goals saved above expected rating (GSAx) and .924 save % in eight games this season.
Canuck’s Looking Better Than Opposition?
The Vancouver Canucks have stabilized greatly after a disastrous 0-5-2 start to the campaign, and really all the team had to do was avoid collapsing a multi-goal lead every night.
The Canucks enter this contest in the midst of a 6-3-0 tear and have beaten some elite sides during this run, such as the Golden Knights and Avalanche.
Vancouver’s underlying numbers have not been overly impressive throughout that sample, but a 48.21% expected goals rating is considerably sharper than what Montreal is doing of late.
The Canucks are skating a number of capable offensive scorers on each of their top three lines and should be more likely to outscore their expected mark moving forward this season than Montreal.
Elias Pettersson, Andrei Kuzmenko and Ilya Mikheyev have gelled effectively on the Canucks’ second unit and offer a formidable challenge for a Canadiens side not skating a true shutdown defensive pairing.
With the unfortunate injury to Thatcher Demko, we should see Spencer Martin draw the start for tonight’s contest.
Martin has been the sharper of Vancouver’s goaltenders and enters this contest with a -0.3 GSAx and .901 save % in 11 appearances.
Canadiens vs. Canuck’s pick
The greatest reason Montreal sits above Vancouver in the standings is that its goaltending tandem has performed very well. Meanwhile, the Canucks have gotten poor results from Demko.
Tonight, we know Martin will take the net for Vancouver, and although statistically he has not been as spectacular as Montembeault this season, I project the two to achieve similar results moving forward.
Montreal receiving some of the best goaltending in the league is not a narrative I want to put stock into moving forward, and analytically, the Canadiens have outperformed expectations by a decent margin.
Montreal has been mainly getting outplayed badly by notably weak sides over its last stretch of play, while Vancouver has hung around respectably versus a number of elite teams.
Oddsmakers realize the disparity and are still pricing the Canucks as heavy favorites, but I still see value backing the Canucks in a number of ways in this contest.
Vancouver’s deep offensive core should be able to generate effectively tonight, and there are two angles in which I see betting value on in this contest.
FanDuel offers +150 for the Canucks to win inside of regulation and for the game total to go over 5.5, and that’s an angle I love considering the strengths and deficiencies of this Vancouver side.
Petterson, Kuzmenko and Mikheyev absolutely dominated at even strength as a unit and are in an excellent matchup to thrive tonight.
Each is an option for almost any prop on the board. And if you’re using a bookmaker with single-game NHL parlays, compiling a long-shot bet involving a big night from the three is another angle to have fun with.
My favorite widely available prop from the trio is backing Kuzmenko to record a single point, which can be had at -130 on most sportsbooks.