Canadiens vs. Canucks Odds & Picks: Why You Should Back Montreal (Jan. 20)

Canadiens vs. Canucks Odds & Picks: Why You Should Back Montreal (Jan. 20) article feature image
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Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Carey Price.

  • The Vancouver Canucks host the Montreal Canadiens for their first home game of the 2020-21 season on Wednesday night.
  • With a Canucks offense that NHL betting analyst Matt Russell could contribute to facing Carey Price in his home province, there's plenty of value on Montreal in this matchup.
  • Russell previews Wednesday's game below and shares his betting pick.

Canadiens vs. Canucks Odds

Canadiens Odds -110 [BET NOW]
Canucks Odds -110 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 6 [BET NOW]
Time 10 p.m. ET
TV ESPN+
Odds as of Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET and via FanDuel. Get up to a $1,000 risk-free bet at FanDuel today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

I consider myself a sane person.

Betting on sports for two decades will level you. It will make you realize things like, “Why should I care about these adult men I don’t know just because they’re wearing a uniform I grew up idolizing?”

So we put money on the success of these people instead, and I become quite literally invested. I’m no fanatic but every once in a while, something will occur on the playing field that will make me do what we all do and blurt out, “I could have done that!”

Usually, I probably couldn’t have caught that pass (especially in a playoff environment with a linebacker bearing down on me). I probably wouldn’t have made the throw or fielded that ground ball.

That said, I promise you as someone who’s played hockey since he was shorter than an Eastern Ontario snow drift, I could have converted the 2-on-0 break that the Canucks botched at the end of a dominant first period against the Flames on Monday night.

That play marked the beginning of the end for the Canucks winning in Calgary, despite being up 1-0, outshooting the Flames 16-4, and getting four High-Danger Scoring Chances (HDCs) to the Flames’ one in the first period.

It all points to a much larger issue for the Canucks so far this season and one that hasn’t been all that surprising considering the underlying metrics.

They can’t score.

This may be problematic in Vancouver’s first home game of the season against the Montreal Canadiens. 

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Montreal Canadiens

The parade isn’t quite in its planning stages, but rolling right through the Oilers isn’t going to keep Habs fans from getting a little excited. Especially since the Canadiens’ biggest issue has been special teams, particularly a lackluster power play, their 5-on-5 metrics have been much talked about, and rightly so.

My proprietary “Let’s Do That Hockey” model that we talk about daily on THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast currently has Montreal as 5% above league average, despite converting on only 1 of 19 HDCs 5-on-5, according to Natural Stat Trick. The Canadiens’ conversion rate in these instances is notoriously poor so we can’t be that surprised, but going 4 of 10 on the PP has helped a great deal early on. 

With a mini-sweep of the Oilers after taking the Toronto Maple Leafs to overtime in their season opener, the Habs are giving the NHL analytics handicapping community everything they wanted at the start of the season. Taking a trip to Vancouver for a three-game set against the team that was widely considered the polar opposite feels like a dream situation given the two teams’ start to the season. 


Vancouver Canucks

As mentioned above, the Canucks are struggling offensively and face a Montreal team that prides itself on being stingy in its own zone. The Habs have given up just 17 HDCs while 5-on-5 in their three games against the Leafs and Oilers, both of whom are known for creating them.

By comparison, the Oilers created 25 HDCs in two games against these very same Canucks, only to follow that up with 11 HDCs when the Habs came to town. On the flip side, the Canucks created 11 HDCs in each of their games against the Oilers, and then just eight between their two games in Calgary. 

So how much offensive creation from 5-on-5 situations can we expect against the Habs from Vancouver? The reason for the Canucks’ low expectations was due to a combination of reliance on a goaltender who left town and a power play that was ranked in the top five in the league.

The Canucks have scored as many power-play goals in January as they did in November and December combined.

That means zero.

Vancouver is one of eight teams yet to score a power-play goal. None of the other seven teams have played four games yet, and the Canucks are fifth in power-play opportunities with 15.

Getting chances is great, but not scoring on them is incredibly deflating, especially when you match this with the predictably poor 5-on-5 metrics that leave them 18% below league average according to my model.

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Canadiens-Canucks Pick

Fundamentally, this is the matchup the NHL analytics handicappers have been waiting for with as much anticipation of a new generation Xbox. That said, everything has a price. My model cranks out a true moneyline price of Montreal -132/Vancouver +132, but that’s not how sportsbooks work, so something like Montreal -140/Vancouver +120 would be the expectation.

Those handicappers will be thrilled to get anything better than that true moneyline price quoted above and with some places opening this at hockey’s version of a pick’em, that’s a price to jump on that won’t last long.

Even if it doesn’t, -120 is more than enough value to make it a bet, especially with a rested Carey Price set to go in his home province of British Columbia, against an offense that I might be able to contribute to. 

The Pick: Canadiens (-125 or better)

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