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Senators vs. Canucks Odds & Picks: Ottawa’s Stats Say Something Has to Give

Senators vs. Canucks Odds & Picks: Ottawa’s Stats Say Something Has to Give article feature image

Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Josh Norris.

  • The Senators have lost four straight games, but their underlying stats say they've been incredibly unlucky.
  • Matt Russell breaks the numbers down and explains why something's got to give for Ottawa.

Senators vs. Canucks Odds

Senators Odds +123
Canucks Odds -143
Over/Under 6.5
Time 8 p.m. ET
Odds as of Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. ET and via DraftKings.

If I had more time I’d create a Hall of Fame for hockey analytics beats this season. Not a bad-beat Hall of Fame, but a selection of games this season that do not match their underlying metrics in any way, shape or form.

We have had some doozies this year. The Arizona Coyotes lost, 5-2, to the Vegas Golden Knights on Jan. 20 despite a 69% Expected Goal Share (XG%) 5-on-5. The Buffalo Sabres got shut out, 3-0, the night before, by the Philadelphia Flyers, despite a 61.5% XG% even-strength.

On Jan. 16, there was a pair of Hall of Famers. The Oilers lost, 5-1, to Montreal with a 54.88 XG%, and the Blue Jackets lost, 5-2, to Nashville despite a 64% XG%.

The first-ballot, tip of the Hall-of-Fame pyramid game occurred last Friday when the Predators played well enough 5-on-5 to take 67% of the Expected Goals in the game.

They lost 7-0.

On Monday, there was just one game in the NHL and I’m not sure it was a Hall-of-Fame worthy result, but it’s certainly on the ballot. The Canucks and Senators opened a three-game set at Rogers Arena with an evenly played game, as long as you didn’t look at the scoreboard.

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Ottawa Senators

The Senators had just come off of a three-game set with the Jets, where the first two games were at home and the third in Winnipeg. So you could imagine that the hard-fought series and the travel would add up to a rough outing for Ottawa against the home-standing Canucks on Monday night.

If you look at the 7-1 score in favor of Vancouver, you’d think you were right. Narratively speaking, the Senators walked into Vancouver and faced a hungry team desperate for a win with the loud left-coast locals upset at a lackluster start to the season.

In the real world, the one with math, metrics and analytics, this game was actually incredibly evenly played. The Expected Goals 5-on-5 was 2.13-2.06 for Vancouver. The High-Danger Chances (HDC) were 9-8 for Vancouver.

Not exactly a blowout. So what happened?

The Senators got no help between the pipes. The Canucks converted 6 of 9 HDC 5-on-5. A 66% rate for something that happens at about 14% of the time in the NHL.

That’s pretty fluky.

Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks needed the offensive explosion. They had been converting on HDC 5-on-5 at a 10.4% this season, so the hot hands in Vancouver boosted their conversion rate from well below average to above average. The magic of small sample size.

Defensively, Vancouver was about the same as it’s been all season, except the pucks didn’t actually go in the net. Often we look at scoreboard blowouts and when the metrics don’t add up, we brush it off as “one team took a big lead, and sat on that lead allowing the other team to pressure them, knowing they had a handful of goals as a cushion.” This was not that game either.

The Senators opened up the game with a 5-2 HDC advantage in the first period, and they were down 2-0 at the intermission. Once the Canucks had the lead, that’s actually when they took the run of play, getting their own 5-2 HDC advantage in the second period. Each team added a goal at even strength until the Canucks got a short-handed goal late in the frame.

Things got away from Ottawa in the third period, not from an HDC standpoint, but the Canucks piled in three more goals to make the scoreline lopsided. 

Senators-Canucks Pick

I don’t know if there’s an Ottawa Senators bandwagon, but what’s left of it is careening around the dirt roads of northern Ontario.

Even with four straight losses, the Senators’ skaters are still doing the right things to win games, or at the very least putting themselves in the best position to win the games.

The goaltending on the other hand? Is not. That falls at the pads of Matt Murray, who continues to dine out on two Stanley Cup wins with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Though the reason he’s not currently a Penguin is that he’s not very good.

After a rough season last year, Murray has started this year with a -2.92 GSAA (Goals Saved Above Average). If he’s in the crease, you have to tread lightly, and we already have our first example of a team that would be better off by using their backup. 

Monday night notwithstanding, the Canucks goaltending has been just as bad between Braden Holtby (-2.31 GSAA) and Thatcher Demko (-4.73 GSAA). That means we shouldn’t feel as badly as we do staring down the “submit” button on betting the Senators. Even if we just lost another hubcap off the bandwagon.

The Pick: Senators +123 (+120 or better)


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