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Canadiens vs. Oilers NHL Odds & Picks: Which Team Should Be Favored on Saturday Night? (Jan. 16)

Canadiens vs. Oilers NHL Odds & Picks: Which Team Should Be Favored on Saturday Night? (Jan. 16) article feature image

Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Alex Romanov

Canadiens vs. Oilers Odds

Canadiens Odds -108 [BET NOW]
Oilers Odds -108 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 6.5 [BET NOW]
Time 7 p.m. ET
TV NHL Center Ice
Odds as of Friday night and via DraftKings.

The Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens have two very different identities. The Oilers are powered by elite, individual talents like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Montreal doesn’t have the game-breakers that Edmonton does, but the Habs are one of the deepest teams in the NHL.

Despite the different philosophies, bookmakers have this game as a pick’em at the time of writing.

Montreal Canadiens

After opening the offseason at 50/1, the Montreal Canadiens became a trendy Stanley Cup sleeper as we got closer to puck drop. It made sense that bettors saw potential in the Habs. They may not jump out to you at first blush, but the more you look at their roster and statistical portfolio, the more there is to like.

Despite a bang-average record in 2019-20, the Canadiens had some of the league’s best advanced numbers. Montreal had the second-best xG differential per 60 minutes during the regular season, finishing just behind Vegas and slightly ahead of Tampa Bay. Not bad company to keep.

Stat (5-on-5) Regular Season (71 games) NHL Rank
Goals per 60 2.54 17th
Goals Against per 60 2.45 13th
Goal Differential per 60 +0.08 13th
Expected Goals per 60 2.66 3rd
Expected Goals Against per 60 2.34 11th
Expected Goals Against per 60 +0.41 2nd

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.

Montreal was never able to make those numbers stick because they weren’t clinical (their 7.45% shooting percentage was sixth-worst in the league) and because Carey Price wasn’t up to snuff in the regular season.

While Montreal tried to address its finishing woes by adding Josh Anderson and Tyler Toffoli to the top-six, they will only make good on their potential if Price plays more like the goalie we saw in The Bubble and less like the one we saw in the regular season.

Everything else seems to be in place for this team to be a contender. They are a force at 5-on-5, they are deep on both ends of the ice and they have a couple of high-ceiling players who could make star turns in 2021.

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Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers have done little to dispel their burn-or-get-burned reputation.

The Oilers are 1-1 with eight goals scored and seven goals allowed to start the season. They lost a game, 5-3, and they won a game, 5-2. McDavid and Draisaitl have combined for nine points. They are averaging 3.45 expected goals per 60 minutes, but surrendering 3.77. It’s early, but the Oilers are who we thought they were.

Despite improving its depth over the offseason, Edmonton’s start to the season feels more like a continuation of what we saw in 2019-20 when the Oil were a bottom-10 defense by both goals allowed and expected goals allowed at 5-on-5. Of course having McDavid and Draisaitl allows room for some defensive issues, but the Oilers could definitely stand to improve in front of their own net.

That said, it’s hard to imagine a paradigm shift in the way the Oilers play. They’re here to trade chances with you all night. It makes for good entertainment, but also some stressful betting. No lead is safe with Edmonton and vice verse.

Canadiens-Oilers Pick

McDavid and Draisaitl can wreck a game in a split-second but I think the Canadiens are the better team in this matchup and should be favorites, since I am not making any adjustments for home-ice advantage.

The Oilers did improve their depth up front, but their already-wobbly defense took a big hit when it lost Oscar Klefbom for the season. The Habs should be able to dictate play in this game and generate more than enough chances to make up for the McDavid-Draisaitl factor.

I think the Habs are set up for a huge season and we’ll be seeing them get more and more respect in the betting market as the season goes on. Take advantage of this price while you still can.

Pick: Canadiens -120 or better

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