NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Avalanche vs. Canucks (November 11)
Michael Martin/Getty Images. Pictured: Valeri Nichushkin
- The Denver Avalanche are home favorites against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night.
- Nick Martin previews the game and makes his pick:
Canucks vs. Avalanche Odds
|Time||9 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
After back-to-back losses to the Blue Jackets, the Avalanche will look to get moving in the right direction as they begin life without Nathan Mackinnon, who joins Cale Makar on the IR. Altogether Colorado have posted a surprisingly poor 4-5-1 start to the season and will be desperate to get back to winning ways when they host a Vancouver team who have also struggled in the early going.
The Canucks will come in on the heels of another disappointing overtime loss to the Ducks, albeit in a very encouraging effort altogether, to move to 5-6-2.
Vancouver could be catching Colorado at a good time given Colorado’s injury situation and current form, but does that still leave the Canucks much chance to claim two points from a very deep Avalanche squad?
Even over a small 10-game sample size, it’s very surprising to see the Avalanche post a 4-5-1 record to begin the season.
The Avalanche have fought through a number of key injuries and have consistently skated a markedly different back end than what we saw during their wildly dominant campaign last season.
Devon Toews’ return offered a big stabilizer to the back-end, but now the loss of Cale Makar is a new and meaningful concern for the Avs. Samuel Girard is again day-to-day as well, and his status is certainly very important with regards to this contest. One of the biggest issues for the Avalanche has been their ongoing defensive injuries leading to increased minutes for Jack Johnson and Ryan Murray.
Jack Johnson owns just a 42.9 xGF% so far this season, and Ryan Murray hasn’t fared much better at 44.6%. When you consider who was playing these minutes for the Avs last year at full health while still rostering Ryan Graves, it’s not a surprise that the team has allowed worse goals against stats so far this season as they are averaging the second worst GA/GP at 3.60.
Altogether the Avalanche do hold a 54.07 xGF%, but I would certainly argue an increased number of complete defensive breakdowns have made life hard for Darcy Kuemper, and left his poor -2.3 GSAx rating somewhat inflated.
Kuemper also holds a .908 SV% altogether and should draw the start tomorrow as he looks to improve against a Vancouver team that has posted underwhelming offensive results in the early going this season.
RW Valeri Nichushkin is likely to return for the contest having missed two contests, and he has been a very underrated piece for the Avalanche the last two seasons.
For the Canucks to have received the spectacular level of play from Connor Garland, J.T. Miller, and Bo Horvat in the early going and still be below .500 could be taken either way, but I am going to choose to consider it a positive. I still feel that Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser have the ability to dominate more than we have seen in the early going.
I also believe in the talents of young prospects Nils Hoglander and Vasily Podkolzin as they should contribute as middle-six NHL forwards this season.
Altogether, I feel this group should be able to produce better offensive results long term than the 2.62 goals for per game we have seen so far, even if there are some bottom forwards who are essentially nothing but dead weight currently in the mix.
Behind Quinn Hughes, coach Travis Green’s options continue to be very thin, and the question for me is whether or not we will see some pieces step up on the back end to help drive the play up the ice and make life a little easier for Thatcher Demko, whose excellent early play has gone relatively unrewarded.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson has been better than many expected after some tough seasons in Arizona but is likely still far from a number two defensemen on a strong NHL squad. Tyler Myers continues to be caved in during 5-on-5 play, and the eye test might even be harsher than his 41.3 xGF%.
Even short Nathan Mackinnon and Cale Makar, the Avalanche will still offer a firm test to the Canucks’ struggling defenders. It could be a tough night for Thatcher Demko should they not manage the puck more effectively in their own end than we have seen much of this season.
Having rested Tuesday vs Anaheim, Demko should almost certainly draw the start for the contest. Demko has been very sharp in stopping .918 % of shots faced over ten starts this season, and he has stopped 4.9 goals above expected (GSAx).
Canucks vs. Avalanche Pick
Although Vancouver’s offense has posted some altogether modest results so far this season, I continue to feel that the talent on board offer more upside than we have seen so far.
The Canucks have created more chances the last week, including a six-goal outburst against a stingy Dallas Stars defense, and they were unlucky not to produce more Tuesday against Anaheim.
The Avalanche continue to be surprisingly poor in their own zone and will be without Cale Makar and likely without Samuel Girard tomorrow night. This will force them to play additional minutes for some weaker players which are usually played by two of the league’s best – a significant dropoff to say the least.
Darcy Kuemper has also been average at best so far this season, and altogether it’s a reasonable thought to believe Vancouver can put together a reasonable output tomorrow night in Denver.
However, the Avalanche still pack a lot of offensive firepower even without Mackinnon and Makar, and I think Vancouver will have a hard time holding them to a lower total.
Altogether, I see the most value with the over at 5.5 and would play it to -135. I also see some value on the Canucks Moneyline at +150, but would not play it at a worse number.
Pick: Over 5.5 DraftKings -120 (Play to -135) Vancouver Canucks +150 or better