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Jets vs. Canucks NHL Odds & Pick: Vancouver Has Value as Home Underdog (March 24)

Jets vs. Canucks NHL Odds & Pick: Vancouver Has Value as Home Underdog (March 24) article feature image

Rich Lam/Getty Images. Pictured: Connor Hellebuyck and Paul Stastny.

  • Vancouver got off to a slow start but has inched back into playoff discussion even without star forward Elias Pettersson.
  • Winnipeg is second in the North Division despite putting together a poor season analytically.
  • Pete Truszkowski explains why he likes the Canucks to continue their recent string of success.

Jets vs. Canucks Odds

Jets Odds-148
Canucks Odds+125
Time10:30 p.m. ET
Odds as of Tuesday night and via DraftKings.

After a poor start, the Vancouver Canucks have done a good job to get themselves back in the fringe of the playoff picture. Vancouver has won seven of its past 10 games and had a five-game point streak snapped its last time out. 

The Canucks have done most of this without star forward Elias Pettersson. Will they be able to continue to inch back into the race on Wednesday night against the Winnipeg Jets?

Winnipeg Jets

The Winnipeg Jets have done a great job over the past few seasons of spitting in the face of those who value analytics in hockey. 

Despite ranking in the bottom five in both expected goal rate and high danger chance percentage, Winnipeg has posted a 19-11-2 record. This is the second-best mark of any team in the North Division based on points percentage. 

Winnipeg’s main issue is its play in their own zone. The Jets give up 2.52 expected goals against per hour at 5-on-5, the second-worst mark in the league. They also give up more high danger chances than any team in the league while ranking 30th in terms of scoring chances against. 

Thankfully, goaltending is a strength for the Jets so a lot of these issues are masked. Connor Hellebuyck won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goaltender in 2020, and while he’s not been as dominant this season, he’s still one of the best goalies in the league. Hellebuyck and backup goaltender Laurent Brossoit have combined for a +5.41 goals saved above expectation (GSAx) mark. 

Strong goaltending allows the Jets to overcome their defensive deficiencies, while their high-end offensive talent allows them to make up for having the puck less often than their opponents. 

Winnipeg’s top six is among the best in the league. Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Paul Stastny all have the ability to change a game. Additionally, the Jets’ third line is among the best in the league. When a team has this much talent, it’s not shocking to see them perform better than expected.

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Vancouver Canucks

It’s been a weird season for the Vancouver Canucks. After an impressive showing in the bubble during last year’s postseason, the expectations were raised for the young group. They were one of the worst teams in the league to begin the year, but they’ve slowly begun to dig themselves out of the hole they created. 

Even with Pettersson out of the lineup, the Canucks have plenty of game-changing players. Bo Horvat, J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser are all top-end forwards while Quinn Hughes is one of the best young defensemen in the sport. The Canucks’ offense has been about average, ranking 13th in expected goals per hour and 19th in actual goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. 

Defensively, things have not been as good for Vancouver. The team ranks dead-last in terms of expected goals against per hour at 5-on-5. No team is giving up more shot attempts or scoring chances per game than Vancouver while only the Jets are giving up more high danger chances.

The main difference since the start of the season has been the play of goaltender Thatcher Demko. Demko currently ranks third in the league in terms of GSAx, posting a mark of +10.4. Demko has given up two goals or fewer in nine of his 11 starts. It’s no coincidence that this run lines up with the Canucks’ recent winning streak.

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Jets vs. Canucks Best Bet

Both the Jets and Canucks are flawed teams. The defense of both teams leaks scoring chances and relies on their goaltending to bail them out. In normal circumstances I’d strongly consider a wager on the over here, but I have too much respect for both Hellebuyck and Demko.

The Jets have more talent in their lineup, especially with the Canucks being without Pettersson. However, with the Jets’ inability to control puck possession and their propensity to give up a lot of scoring opportunities, they aren’t a team I’d look to back as substantial favorites.

The Canucks have been playing a lot better hockey in the past month and they realize that their postseason hopes are hanging on by a thread. After a 4-0 Winnipeg win when these two teams met on Monday, I expect Vancouver to play with even more desperation.

With Demko’s recent form, I would back the Canucks as a home underdog. If Braden Holtby gets the start for Vancouver, I’d stay away from this game. 

Pick: Vancouver Canucks +125 (if Demko starts)

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