Tuesday NHL Betting Odds and Picks: Blackhawks vs. Wild, Canucks vs. Bruins and More (Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2020)

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Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images.

Feb 03, 2020, 06:48 PM EST

I underestimated the Vancouver Canucks coming into the season. It was no secret that there was plenty of emerging talent at Rogers Arena, but I thought Vancouver was a season away from being more than a fun-but-flawed team. The Canucks have proven to be much more than that and lead the Pacific Division after 53 games.

Vancouver takes on the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night as part of a 13-game NHL slate.


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Vancouver Canucks at Boston Bruins

  • Canucks odds: +155
  • Bruins odds: -185
  • Over/Under: 6
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET

The great thing about talent is that it can help cover up blemishes. The Vancouver Canucks have a lot of talent, though they also have some blemishes, too.

Let’s start with the good. Vancouver is led by an incredible core of talented youngsters. Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes lead the way, but there are plenty of terrific players at the top of this roster as Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser and J.T. Miller are all bonafide top-line players this season. The defense, led by Hughes in his sensational rookie campaign, isn’t as impressive, but Hughes, Tyler Myers, Alex Edler and Chris Tanev make up a good enough top four. All this skill has turned Vancouver’s power play into a weapon, though it will be the second best PP on the ice in Boston on Tuesday.

In other words, the Canucks are clicking in a few phases of the game, but the Canucks’ 5-on-5 metrics show they are still punching above their weight in the big picture. Vancouver’s 48.7% expected goals rate ranks 22nd in the NHL this season and the Canucks have been even worse over their last 25 games with a 45.4% expected goals share.

It’s not a great trend, but is this number big enough to take a shot on the Canucks playing their third game in four nights on the road against one of the league’s best teams?

I think it is, though the number has shortened at some sportsbooks. According to the listed odds, the Boston Bruins are projected to win this game 62.3% of the time. I think that flatters the B’s, who are quite good, a tiny bit.

The Bruins are an incredibly tough nut to crack defensively. They lead the NHL with 1.98 expected goals against per 60 minutes, but Vancouver’s shooting and play-making talent should keep them in this game, especially since Boston’s 5-on-5 offense is generating just 2.11 xGF/60 on the season.

I wouldn’t go below +155, but I think Vancouver — despite its flaws — is good enough to provide some value at this price.

Around the League

It’s still too early to call it an elimination game, but the stakes in the Chicago Blackhawks (+105) at Minnesota Wild (-125) game are quite high. Both teams are on the fringe of the playoff picture and a regulation loss could push them further into “seller mode” with the trade deadline on the horizon.

Chicago and Minnesota play very different styles of hockey. Chicago relies on a high-flying offense and great goaltending to mask serious defensive issues and mediocre 5-on-5 play. Minnesota plays fantastic defense, but can’t score and its goalies have been terrible again this season.

I still would make Minnesota a favorite against Chicago on neutral ice, but these odds imply that the Blackhawks would be slight favorites when you take away home-ice advantage. That being said, I don’t think there’s enough value at -125 to fire on Minnesota but if these odds drop I’ll take a look.

Believe it or not, but the Los Angeles Kings (+195) actually have better a better expected goals rate than the Washington Capitals (-245) this season. That may sound like an indictment on the stat, but it isn’t. No matter how many more chances you create than give up, if you don’t have good enough players to make them count, you won’t succeed.

The Capitals are a team littered with talent, while the Kings are quite the opposite. Still, I’ll be looking to take a shot on Los Angeles at a big number on Tuesday night, though I’m going to wait until later in the day to get down as I suspect the number will keep climbing.

I played the Nashville Predators (-120) on the road against the Winnipeg Jets (+100). Even though Winnipeg has more points than Nashville on the season, I consider the Predators to be a much stronger team than the Jets, who have the worst expected goals rate in the NHL this season.

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Follow Michael J. Leboff on Twitter
@TheBigLeebowski

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