Wild vs. Canucks Odds & Picks: Where the Betting Value Is On Sunday
Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes
- Michael Leboff previews Sunday's Game 1 between the Vancouver Canucks and Minnesota Wild.
- Find out where he thinks the betting value is for this Stanley Cup qualifying series opener.
Editor’s note: If you’re looking our preview of Tuesday night’s Game 2 between the Wild and Canucks, check out this article. The below breakdown was for Sunday’s Game 1.
Minnesota Wild vs. Vancouver Canucks Odds
|Wild Odds||-108 [BET NOW]|
|Canucks Odds||-108 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||5.5 (-125/+104) [BET NOW]|
|Time||Sunday, 10:30 p.m. ET|
Hockey fans have a lot of time to talk about the Vancouver Canucks. It’s impossible not to be excited about Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes and the rest of the young core in the City of Glass.
The Canucks are still a bit raw. Very few teams relied on their young talent like Vancouver did in the regular season, but the Canucks have the potential to put on a show anytime they step onto the ice.
The Minnesota Wild are sort of the Anti-Canucks. Minnesota leans heavily on its veterans, doesn’t play an exciting style of hockey and doesn’t have any real game-breaking talent.
The Canucks are certainly the more fun team to bet on, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the right one.
As exciting as the Canucks are, there are some flaws in their game and lineup that probably will keep them from making a deep run in the postseason. Anything can happen in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but their 5-on-5 numbers over the course of the regular season make me skeptical that the Canucks can sustain a long run.
In a single game, the Canucks are hard to deal with. They’ve got plenty of scoring talent, terrific playmakers at the top of their lineup and a good goaltender who can provide some cover for their defensive flaws.
That being said, if the Canucks’ offensive wizards aren’t working their magic out of the gate they could be in trouble because they don’t have the supporting cast to pick up the pieces and their 5-on-5 metrics are pretty weak.
Vancouver is talented enough that it doesn’t need to dominate the possession game to have success, but it wouldn’t hurt if the Canucks could find a way to improve on their 48.3% expected goals rate from the regular season.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.
Stylistically, the Canucks are a team that relies on creating chances by establishing offensive zone time with their cycle game. Wear defenses down, get the puck to one of their snazzy playmakers and let him pick out the right pass or shot to create a scoring chance.
Finding those opportunities may be tough against one of the NHL’s best defensive teams.
The Wild have established a clear identity over the past few seasons. Minnesota has ranked first, first and second, respectively, over the past three seasons in expected goals allowed but faithless goaltending has kept the Wild from ever truly taking the next step.
Over the years no team has made life easier on their goaltenders than the Wild have, but the favor has never been returned by Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock.
Goals Saved Above Expectation (GSAx) is an advanced statistic that measures a goaltender’s performance against the quality of scoring chances he faced. It is a better catch-all metric compared to save percentage because every SV% counts every saved shot and goal the same, while GSAx weights shots by the quality of the scoring chance.
GSAx numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.
Stalock looks like he will get the nod in goal and the numbers say that’s the right decision as his -16.64 GSAx was actually better than Dubnyk, who posted a league-worst -27.5 GSAx in 30 games in 2019/20.
It’s really a shame that neither Dubnyk nor Stalock have been able to deliver because you could argue that Minnesota’s defensive core is as good as any team in the NHL. Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Matt Dumba and Jonas Brodin are specialists at suppressing scoring chances and should be able to contain Vancouver’s potent top six.
So we know Minnesota has a top-notch defense and terrible goaltending, but what about its offense? Well, it’s actually pretty good. The Wild may not be known as a scoring team and they were below-average at creating scoring chances, but they finished fifth overall in Goals For per 60 minutes (5-on-5) and had nine different players reach double-digit goals.
There’s a lot to like about this team, but the goaltending is still the elephant in the room.
Even with their goaltending woes, I think the Wild should be favorites in this game and series.
They are the better 5-on-5 team, they are much better defensively and their offense has proven it can score enough to help the defense overcome the goaltending problem.
I’m happy to take a chance on the Wild given their metrics. They may not look like a high-ceiling team, but if they can get league-average goaltending from Stalock or Dubnyk or a zamboni driver they are a live dog not only in this series but in the playoffs, too.
The market seems to agree with me as the Wild have shortened considerably since this market opened. After starting out in the +105 range, Minnesota is a -115 favorite at bet365 while most other books have this game as a pick ’em.
I wouldn’t go much further than -120 on the Wild for Game 1, though I’d be shocked if we got there. I also think, if you’re looking for a team to root for at long odds, you can do a lot worse than 45-1 on Minnesota to win the Cup.