Blues vs. Ducks NHL Odds & Picks: In Gibson We Trust (Sunday, Jan. 31)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: John Gibson.
Blues vs. Ducks Odds
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Sunday morning and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today.|
The classic music group Chumbawamba once famously said, “I get knocked down, but I get up again.” The Anaheim Ducks will need to make this their motto on Sunday as they face off against the St. Louis Blues for the second time in less than 24 hours.
The Blues scored three goals in the first two minutes of the game and chased stand-out goaltender John Gibson from the crease. The rest of the game did not go much better for the Ducks, as the Blues cruised to a 6-1 win.
Can the Ducks avenge their embarrassing loss?
If there’s a positive to come out of Saturday’s game for the Ducks, it’s that Gibson will likely be available on Sunday. Gibson got the start for Anaheim, but he lasted just two minutes and six seconds before being replaced by Ryan Miller.
Prior to Saturday’s forgettable appearance, Gibson was arguably the best goalie in hockey so far this season. Gibson leads the league in both goals saved above expectation and goals saved above average. He single-handedly has kept this team in games and has even led them to a respectable 3-4-2 start.
Gibson has had to be spectacular because the Ducks are pretty bad.
Anaheim ranks dead last in the NHL in terms of expected goal rate, high danger chances and scoring chances. They are the second-worst team in the league in terms of shot attempt percentage. They are bottom three in the league in terms of expected goals against and sixth from the bottom in terms of expected goals scored.
The Ducks are an organization caught in between right now. This team was a consistent contender in the Western Conference for quite a while over the past decade, but players like Ryan Getzlaf are quite obviously now past their prime. Anaheim awaits contributions from youngsters like Max Comtois and Sam Steel, but neither has done much to begin the year.
While Anaheim tries to find it’s identity, they will likely continue to struggle and be amongst the worst teams in the league. But their goaltender is capable of stealing a game on any given night.
St. Louis Blues
The Blues’ identity remains a team built from the back end out. The Blues are a top-10 team in terms of expected goals against per 60 minutes. Justin Faulk has rebounded nicely after a disappointing first year in St. Louis. Faulk is joined by Torey Krug, Colton Parayko and Vince Dunn to form a defense that is both solid in its own zone and adept at moving the puck up ice and contributing offensively.
Speaking of offense, the Blues have been led by a bit of a surprise difference-maker. Jordan Kyrou entered this season with just 12 points in 44 prior NHL games. However, after three points on Saturday, the winger has 10 points in eight games to begin this campaign. His linemates, Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn, are also playing well and contributing offensively.
The Blues offensive depth becomes a strength with the development of Kyrou and the success of his line. Ryan O’Reilly is one of the top two-way centers in the league, so his line with David Perron is always dangerous. New acquisition Mike Hoffman and youngster Robert Thomas give the Blues a dangerous third line as well.
The Blues’ offense currently leads the NHL in terms of goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 (3.76), but it may not be sustainable. Their expected goals per 60 is just 2.07, which suggests more of a middling offense than one of the league’s best.
Goaltender Jordan Binnington became a hero in the city of St. Louis after back-stopping the team to their championship, and he has started this season playing well. Binnington has gotten points in six of his seven starts while posting a save percentage of .918.
However, Binnington played in Saturday’s game which means it’s unlikely we see him play on Sunday. Backup goaltender Ville Husso has made just two appearances this season and has a goals against average of over seven goals. Husso is a 25-year-old former fourth-round pick who has spent the last three years in the minors, where he’s been average. While he won’t be giving up seven a night, it remains to be seen whether Husso has enough talent to play at this level consistently.
Ducks vs. Blues Best Bet
You don’t get rich in the NHL betting on big favorites. Therefore, the Blues as nearly -170 favorites are a no-go despite being the much better team. At the current line, you need the Blues to win this game about 63% of the time. With their backup goalie likely playing and Anaheim probably feeling embarrassed about Saturday’s scoreline, that seems a little high.
Goaltending is the great equalizer in hockey. It can mask a team’s deficiencies and it can cause results that make no sense. Gibson has been spectacular for the Ducks to begin this season and I think it’s fair to write off Saturday’s two minutes of pain as a bad night. While you can trust Anaheim’s goaltending, trusting Husso in the Blues’ crease is a lot tougher.
The Blues have already played three two-game series to begin this season. In their first three series against Colorado, San Jose and Los Angeles, the Blues won the first game before losing the second one. It’s obviously a small sample size, but teams have done better the second time around against the Blues.
While this line isn’t quite there yet, I think it’s worth waiting to see if Anaheim can get to the +150 range on the moneyline. Bettors might overreact to the lopsided Saturday scoreline to drive the price up. With Gibson, Anaheim has a chance every night. It won’t be fun and it won’t be pretty, but that’s how it goes sometimes in this beautiful sport.
Pick: Anaheim Ducks (+150 or better)