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Canucks vs. Senators NHL Betting Odds & Pick: Why There’s Value on Ottawa as a Home Underdog (Monday, April 26)

Canucks vs. Senators NHL Betting Odds & Pick: Why There’s Value on Ottawa as a Home Underdog (Monday, April 26) article feature image

André Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Anton Forsberg.

  • The Ottawa Senators are yet to be a favorite for a game this season in the NHL.
  • In the meantime, Matt Russell will keep backing them as an underdog.
  • He breaks down his pick for Monday night's North Division matchup below.

Canucks vs. Senators Odds

Canucks Odds -125
Senators Odds +105
Over/Under 6
Time Monday, 7 p.m. ET
Odds as of Sunday and via BetMGM

I thought Monday might finally be the day. It still might happen, so get your confetti and noisemakers ready just in case.

The Ottawa Senators are so close to being favored for the first time this season that they can taste it, like a BeaverTail on the Rideau Canal. 

Ottawa hasn’t even had a minus next to their moneyline number yet this season, but I believe that this will be that game by puck drop on Monday. In fact, I made the case on Saturday that they should have been favored in Vancouver and even though they lost, nothing about that game changed my opinion. 

Vancouver Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks accumulated a grand total of 1 high-danger chance at even-strength on Saturday night. One.

Yes, they won the game 4-2, but if you’re backing the Canucks at this point, you’re ignoring any and all quantitative information.

The Canucks’ Tanner Pearson scored with six minutes left in a 2-2 game to give Vancouver a win that it probably didn’t deserve. It wasn’t just that game. The Canucks lost 3-0 in the previous matchup that had them actually more competitive at even-strength. While Vancouver improved to 3-1 since returning for their long COVID-19 break, they’ve allowed 8.68 expected goals (xG) 5-on-5 to their 6.12, which is on trend with the rest of their season. 

The Canucks rate an eyelash shy of 9% below-average at even-strength in the North Division in my “Let’s Do That Hockey” model, as heard on “THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast.” They have earned just 46.4% of the 5-on-5 xG this season, and from the time star sniper Elias Petterson left the lineup 16 games ago their XG share is even worse at 44%. 

The Senators definitely didn’t take the game that the Canucks looked to have been trying to give them, going a woeful 0-for-6 on the power play. It was a key difference from the previous matchup where the Senators got their early goal on the man-advantage. On top of that, Alex Formenton was stopped on a penalty shot by Braden Holtby, who came up with enough big saves for the third straight game.

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 and advanced stats cited from Evolving Hockey, MoneyPuck and Natural Stat Trick.

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Ottawa Senators

On the flip side, Ottawa certainly had its own challenges with the last line of defense. It started in warmups when nominal starter, Anton Forsberg, was scratched for the crease with an injury. Matt Murray, who expected a night with the best seat in the house was called upon to start.

Murray has struggled this season when ill-prepared for a start, whether on short rest or compromised physically. He was able to play well enough but in the second period, he was forced to leave with his own apparent leg injury. On came Marcus Hogberg who throughout this season hasn’t shown much ability to play at this level.

That the Sens only gave up two more (non-empty net) goals the rest of the way was something of a surprise. In fact, when Murray left the game in a 1-1 tie, the play he got hurt on occurred when he got tangled with a Canucks forward, and was called for tripping on the play. The Canucks immediately capitalized on the power play to take a 2-1 lead. Insult adding to the injury. 

After starting the season 2-13 on the moneyline, the Senators are 15-18 since,  steadily improving their even-strength rating in my model. Saturday’s game contributed to that. 

Betting Analysis & Pick

The only thing that might steer the Sens away from being a favorite or at least pick’em in Monday’s game (as well as making them a sure-fire bet) is that the status of their two goaltenders that are all of a sudden questionable. 

In this space for Saturday’s game, I detailed the Senators’ improvement in their goaltending as the key reason they have won nearly half their games since that tough start to the season. The only goaltender to get the call that would result in my bailing out on this pick is Hogberg.

Otherwise, with a small adjustment for home-ice, along with their 3.7% below-average even-strength rating in my model there’s more than enough value here to back Ottawa as home underdogs.

Pick: Senators +105 (play to -110)

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