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Ducks vs. Coyotes Odds & Picks: Expect Another Low-Scoring Affair

Ducks vs. Coyotes Odds & Picks: Expect Another Low-Scoring Affair article feature image

David Becker/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Ducks goalie John Gibson.

  • The Arizona Coyotes host the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday as part of a packed NHL slate.
  • Anaheim defeated Arizona in a 1-0 game on Tuesday. Is there any reason to think we'll see more goals Thursday night?
  • Pete Truszkowski previews this matchup and shares his betting pick below.

Ducks vs. Coyotes Odds

Ducks Odds +114
Coyotes Odds -132
Over/Under 5.5
Time 9 p.m. ET
Odds as of Wednesday night and via DraftKings.

The Anaheim Ducks started the season with a 3-2-2 record after defeating the Arizona Coyotes by a score of 1-0 on Tuesday night. 

On Thursday night, these two teams will go at it again. Can we expect the Coyotes to get revenge, or is there a better way to attack this game?

Anaheim Ducks

The Anaheim Ducks are not a good team, despite their winning record through the first two weeks of the NHL season. The Ducks rank in the bottom five of the league in shot-attempt rate, high-danger chances, scoring chances and expected goals. 

If you play the Anaheim Ducks, there’s a good chance you’ll be spending the majority of the night in the offensive zone. The fun ends there, however.

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Ducks goaltender John Gibson had a bit of an off year in 2019-20, but if early returns are a sign of things to come, he has re-entered the conversation as one of the best goalies in hockey. 

Gibson has started six of the Ducks’ first seven games and he currently leads the NHL in both goals saved above expectation (GSAx) and goals saved above average (GSAA). He is also second in the NHL in save percentage amongst goalies that have made at least four starts. He has two shutouts already, including his 31-save blanking of the Coyotes on Tuesday. 

Anaheim is a bottom-five team in the league in terms of expected goals against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 but they are top three in the league in terms of actual goals against at 5-on-5. How do you explain such a discrepancy between expectation and reality?

A brick wall between the pipes. 

It’s remarkable to see the Ducks have a winning record when you look at their offense. Anaheim ranks dead last in the NHL currently, scoring just 1.71 goals per game. They rank in the bottom eight of the league with an expected goals scored of 1.91 per hour at even strength. Their leading point producer on the young season is Carter Rowney, an undrafted 31-year-old who has never cracked 20 points in an NHL season.

It’s ugly. But somehow, Gibson has put lipstick on this pig and presented us with a team that has a winning record. 

Arizona Coyotes

One of the more surprising developments of the early season has been the pace the Arizona Coyotes are playing with. The Coyotes rank top five in both expected goals per game and expected goals against per game at 5-on-5. 

Last season, this was a team that made the NHL postseason bubble with a completely different philosophy. They were top-three in the league in terms of goals against per game. At the same time, they were bottom 10 in terms of goals scored per game. 

That style fit Arizona, as it’s a team with a solid defense but without many game-breaking talents up front. You would think the Coyotes would want to play to their strengths and slow the game down, but that has not been the case early in this season. I wouldn’t be shocked to see that change as we progress through this season because it’s not reminiscent of the team we’ve seen the past few years. 

Arizona has some nice pieces up front in Phil Kessel, Nick Schmaltz, Conor Garland and Clayton Keller, but there’s just no superstar in this group. Kessel has lost a step since his Penguins days, but still has four goals in the early going of this season. The Coyotes will not blow anyone away with their offense and they are not built to outscore other teams.

Goaltender Darcy Kuemper has picked up where he left off last season. The veteran netminder has surprised many since joining the Coyotes in 2017 and has established himself as one of the better goalies in the league. His GSAx of 2.92 ranks sixth amongst goaltenders to begin this season. 

Ducks vs. Coyotes Best Bet

One of the toughest things about handicapping hockey is figuring out how to handle an objectively bad team with an amazing goalie. Hockey is a team sport that requires everyone to pull their weight, but on any given night, goaltending can erase all deficiencies.

For that reason, I’m scared of betting the Arizona Coyotes in this spot. I think they’re an objectively better team that should control this game. Darcy Kuemper is likely to contribute a solid goaltending performance, but that doesn’t preclude a 1-0 loss like we saw in the first matchup of these two teams. 

At -132, the Coyotes are just about in range for a bet. I’d like to see it come down to -130 or better, but it’s not a bad spot for a home favorite coming off a loss in the first game of a back-to-back series. If you blindly bet home teams, favorites, or teams trying to avenge a loss against the same opponent, you’d be swimming in money to begin this season. The Coyotes fit all three of those criteria. 

Despite that, my favorite bet is on the total. Gibson is having a tremendous start to the season and has kept his team in every game. Arizona is not the type of team I’d expect to put a crooked number on the board against anyone, let alone one of the best goalies in the league.

On the flipside, the offense is basically non-existent for Anaheim. They are being led offensively by a journeyman bottom six player in Rowney. They aren’t generating much at all at 5-on-5 and their powerplay scares nobody.

I’m betting on Gibson to continue his solid start and the Anaheim offense to continue to sputter. Unders are 6-1 in Anaheim’s first seven games. Hopefully, that streak continues.

Pick: Under 5.5 goals (-135)

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