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Canadiens vs. Canucks NHL Odds & Pick: Good Value on Montreal if Pettersson is Out (March 8)

Canadiens vs. Canucks NHL Odds & Pick: Good Value on Montreal if Pettersson is Out (March 8) article feature image

David Kirouac/Getty Imges. Pictured: Brendan Gallagher (11) of Montreal.

  • Montreal has won two of its last three games after dropping seven of eight to end February.
  • Vancouver is fresh off sweeping first-place Toronto, despite being down star player Elias Petterson.
  • Matt Russell thinks there's value to be had on Montreal if you get you bet in before lineups are announced

Canadiens vs. Canucks Odds

Canadiens Odds-140
Canucks Odds+120
Time | TVMonday, 10 p.m. ET
Odds as of Sunday night and via BetMGM.

When you live in a major Canadian city like the one I live in, and you’re a fan of the hometown team (which I’m not), you have the Stanley Cup parade route planned with any sign of success.

The route sits on your web browser, using up a tab that you never close. Maybe you occasionally see it during a three-game losing streak and think, “Maybe I should just close it for the year…”, but you never actually do click on that little ‘x’.

For the people of Montreal, and those of their ilk, the ‘Parade’ tab is sitting right there, but it had been a couple of weeks since they opened it up to see where the best spot to stand would be. That is, until their beloved Canadiens finally blew a game open offensively on Saturday, and now it’s time to be excited. 

Montreal Canadiens

The Canadiens were the better team in their visit to Winnipeg, when despite having the better Expected Goal Share at even strength (4.66 to 2.94) and more High-Danger Chances 5-on-5 (23 to 14), they didn’t win either game.

They returned home and beat a tired Ottawa team even though they only created two HDC at even strength. Then the Jets came to Montreal and outplayed the Habs in an overtime Winnipeg win. This all AFTER the Canadiens fired Head Coach Claude Julien.

Well, the fourth time's the charm, and on Saturday the puck finally went in the net for Montreal in 7-1 fashion. The Habs chased star Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck and kept on scoring against his replacement, Laurent Broissant. Now the Canadiens hit the road out West, and visit the Vancouver Canucks who they beat two out of three times in a previous trip this season. Surely it’s going to be easy for the Habs to take advantage of the Canucks. 

While Montreal’s metrics have been great this season, Saturday’s game didn’t answer many of the questions that we have about the Canadiens' ability to translate those advanced statistics into goals and wins. They scored seven goals, and that’s outstanding, but if we’re being picky — and we have to be if we’re trying to evaluate predictability — the goals were more a result of variance than anything else. 

Montreal’s issues are two-fold. The first is that their power play struggles to convert their opportunities. Also, they don’t get many chances with the man-advantage, ranking at 26th in the NHL in power plays per game. Despite the lopsided score, the Habs actually only garnered one power play in the game.

Their other issue is converting High-Danger Chances. This they did well enough on Saturday, converting 4 of 10, but with seven even-strength goals, you’d think they’d have created more than just 10, especially since they allowed eight on their end. Fortunately Carey Price was able to steer those aside and the result was a blowout win.

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Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.

Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.

xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.

Vancouver Canucks

Vancouver didn’t have the same easy time with their high-profile Hockey Night In Canada matchup, but they did more with less. The Canucks swept the first-place Maple Leafs despite being without their offensive star, Elias Pettersson.

They also did it without necessarily being the better team. Vancouver had 2.95 Expected Goals (XG) at even strength, while Toronto had 4.05 XG over the course of the two games. The Canucks hung on for dear life after taking an early lead on Thursda, and stole the second game for their first win of the season when trailing after two periods. The Canucks’ two goals in 42 seconds to tie and take the lead gave them the win, but it’s hard to make a case they had found something predictive to back them on going forward. 

nhl-stanley cup playoffs-betting-odds-picks-game 6-vancouver canucks-vegas golden knights-elias pettersson-j.t. miller
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images. Pictured: Elias Pettersson (40) and J.T. Miller (9).

Now the Canadiens come to town, and Pettersson’s status is still in question for the first of two games. Pettersson was in the lineup the first time around, when the Habs dominated the play at even-strength. Only a wild 6-5 game that ended in a shootout gave the Canucks a win out of the three games back in January.

The Canucks created six High-Danger Chances at even-strength in each of the three games, while Montreal had 29 HDC. Add in the two other meetings back in Montreal and the Expected Goals Share at 5-on-5 is heavily in favour of the Habs at 58.5% over their five meetings this season. 

Thatcher Demko was outstanding against Toronto and seems to have wrestled the No. 1 goaltender job away from his veteran counterpart, Braden Holtby. Canucks fans will tell you that it took way too long for this to be the case. While Demko has three wins in the last week, he’s also struggled with the Habs this season, giving up 11 goals on 74 shots in two games. Basically, the Canucks have given up a a ton of chances to Montreal, and the Canucks goaltenders aren’t stopping them. 

Betting Analysis & Pick

The Canadiens' rating has taken a slow tumble in my “Let’s Do That Hockey” model, as heard on THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast. Admittedly their early season pace of 23% above average at even-strength was not sustainable, so their current level of 17% is a little more believable. Meanwhile, the Canucks sit at 9% below average at even-strength. 

When we extrapolate these numbers out to a true win probability for the favoured Habs, it comes out to 57% for Montreal on the road in Vancouver. This translates to a moneyline price of -132.

This is a number based on a couple things that I don’t think apply. The first is a 5% win-probability consideration for home-ice advantage that I extend due to the home teams winning at close to 60% this season. I don’t know that this is relevant considering the Habs have outplayed the Canucks three times at Rogers Arena already this season.

The second is that this number is built on a Canucks team with Pettersson in the lineup. If those two elements are taken out of the equation, the Habs are fairly priced at -150 here, and at that threshold bettable. I wouldn’t go any higher than that, but I’d bet it at this number ASAP, as it should rise if either Pettersson is ruled out, or if Holtby gets the start. 

Pick: Canadiens (-150 or better)

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