Blues vs. Canucks Odds & Pick: Take the Discount on St. Louis in Game 3
Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images.
- Sportsbooks are offering the defending Stanley Cup champions at a discount.
- Michael Leboff explains why he's betting on the Blues to take Game 3 against the Canucks.
Blues vs. Canucks Odds: Game 3
|Canucks Odds||+114 [BET NOW]|
|Blues Odds||-132 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||5.5 (+108/-132) [BET NOW]|
|Time||10:30 p.m. ET|
The Vancouver Canucks needed to get the St. Louis Blues off-balance to have a chance in this series. They’ve done just that and have a 2-0 series lead to show for it.
There were few teams that boasted the type of defensive metrics that St. Louis did. The Blues finished third in 5-on-5 goals against and seventh in expected goals against, proving that they were a viable candidate to go back-to-back.
Craig Berube’s team was just average going forward, but its commitment to defense and terrific goaltending pushed the Blues to the best record in the Western Conference before the season went on pause. There was little reason to doubt St. Louis could make a run this summer, even after it slumbered through the seeding round.
There was also very little reason to believe in the Vancouver Canucks in this series. The Canucks have plenty of stars, but they lacked structure during the regular season. That landed them in the bottom 10 by most defensive metrics in 2019-20.
Vancouver has enough game-breaking talent to make them a dangerous opponent on any given night but they do their best work in high-event games where they trade chances with their opponents. Vancouver is happy to bet that its group of offensive weapons like Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, Quinn Hughes, J.T. Miller and Bo Horvat will score convert enough chances to leave with the two points.
It also doesn’t hurt that the Canucks have a Vezina Trophy candidate in goal.
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.
Stylistically, the Canucks are a team that relies on creating chances by establishing offensive zone time with their cycle game. Wear defenses down, get the puck to one of their snazzy playmakers and let him pick out the right pass or shot to create a scoring chance.
I didn’t think that strategy would work to beat the Wild’s terrific defense. I was wrong. I doubted it would work against the defending Stanley Cup Champions. It looks like I’m wrong again.
That being said, the way Vancouver is winning is not sustainable.
When the game is 5-on-5, this series has been even. The Blues have done a good job suppressing scoring chances, though they aren’t creating much for themselves. That’s kind of who they are, though. Unlike the Canucks, St. Louis wants to play a predictable style of hockey.
The Blues trust themselves to make fewer mistakes than their opponents on most nights. Even if they do hiccup, they trust their All-Star goalie to make a big save to keep them in games.
That hasn’t been the case during the first two games of Round 1, however, as St. Louis has been making too many errors and Jordan Binnington has struggled mightily in goal, rendering St. Louis’ strong defensive efforts at 5-on-5 moot.
This isn’t to take anything away from Vancouver. The Canucks had to get St. Louis into a talent show to have a chance in this series and so far its working. I just am skeptical that Vancouver will keep scoring on 55.6% of its power plays and that Jacob Markstrom will continue to stop 96% of the shots he sees at 5-on-5.
The market is believing the hype, though.
|St. Louis Blues||Vancouver Canucks|
Odds via DraftKings
One of the best ways to spot value in the NHL Playoffs is to take a look at the betting history of each series because, in theory, there shouldn’t really be any huge swings in the market, barring a major injury or something of the like.
On Wednesday, the Blues were -150 (58% implied win probability) and the Canucks were +130. Two losses and three days alter and those same Blues are down to -132 (54.9%). OK, then.
The Blues have been underwhelming since they got to Edmonton but I’m still a believer. This is one of the NHL’s best teams and I can’t buy the Canucks at this price considering how they are achieving their success.
If you told me the Blues would get under -140 during this series I would have laughed. I’ll take the discount on the Defending Champs and would play them up to -135.