NHL Picks, Predictions & Odds: Ottawa Senators vs. Vancouver Canucks
Monday’s are widely considered the worst day of the week, and the NHL is not helping this week with just one game on their schedule. We could all use a break from the weekend as we cope with the fact we’ll be watching Tom Brady in yet another Super Bowl. However, that one game on the schedule still needs to be bet on and we got an angle to attack.
I hate to be harsh, but if I had to use one word to describe the Vancouver Canucks it would be “mess.”
3, 5, 3, 5, 6, 7, 5. No this isn’t some type of riddle or code, it’s the amount of goals the Canucks have given up in each game they’ve played this season. 34 goals against in seven games is a goals against average near five goals a game.
It’s not just luck either. Vancouver is the worst team in the league defensively. They allow the most shot attempts, shots, goals, scoring chances and expected goals per 60 minutes at 5v5. They are the second worst team in the league in terms of high danger chances against.
The Canucks defense is allowing their opponents quality chances left and right, and their goaltending has not been up to the challenge. Thatcher Demko has a -4.36 goals saved above expectation through 3 starts while Braden Holtby’s mark of -2.24 is better, but still bad.
Holtby has a goals against average of 3.70 and a save percentage of .888 while Demko has been even worse with a 5.47 goals against average and an .866 save percentage. For reference, an average NHL goalie’s goals against average is near 2.65 and an average save percentage is near .910. The Canucks goaltenders are a long way from average, let alone good.
One benefit to come out of Vancouver’s last game was the fact that Elias Pettersson scored his first goal of the season. The Swedish youngster was getting preseason hype as a potential MVP candidate but he struggled to begin the season. He finally got the monkey off of his back in game seven and hopefully this gets him going.
Vancouver has a good amount of talent with players like Pettersson as well as Brock Boeser, Quinn Hughes, Bo Horvat, and JT Miller. Nils Hoglander has also gotten off to a decent start in his first few NHL games. With the way this team is playing defensively, they’ll be leaning on their offensive top guns to outscore their woes.
On the other side of the ice, the Ottawa Senators are somewhat similar. Their defense has been subpar to begin the year as well. While they aren’t the worst in the league like Vancouver, they find themselves in the bottom five of a lot of the defensive metrics.
Goaltending has also not been a strong point for the Senators as newly acquired Matt Murray finds himself in the bottom-six of the league in terms of goals saved above expectation. Murray struggled his last few seasons in Pittsburgh which might lead people to believe we’ve already seen the best of Matt Murray as an NHL goalie. Ottawa surely hopes that’s not the case, but early results are not encouraging.
Ottawa does not have as much talent as Vancouver up front, but they still have a nice group of forwards which includes Brady Tkachuk, Evgeni Dadonov and Connor Brown. The team is hoping for increased productions from youngsters like Josh Norris and Drake Batherson who have shown glimpses of their potential. The team also did a good job adding players like Derek Stepan and Alex Galchenyuk who give their line-up some much needed depth.
Both of these teams are in the bottom ten of the league when it comes to defensive metrics, while both teams have offensive metrics in the top half of the league. There is plenty of talent on both of these rosters. Both of these teams have had poor goaltending to open the season.
Until Vancouver figures out their defensive issues, I have to keep betting the overs in their games. Hopefully we see goals in this one.