NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Blackhawks vs. Canucks (October 21)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images. Pictured: Marc-Andre Fleury
Blackhawks vs. Canucks Odds
|Time||8:30 p.m. ET|
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Winless through four games, the Chicago Blackhawks are one of the NHL’s most disappointing teams this season and the seat under head coach Jeremy Colliton is already starting to warm up.
A loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night could be the final straw for the Blackhawks — who came into the season with raised expectations thanks to some big offseason moves — to make a change behind the bench.
Like the Blackhawks, there were some high hopes for the Vancouver Canucks this season. With a young core headlined by superstar talents like Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson, the Canucks have the potential to beat anybody on a given night. That said, Vancouver’s defensive flaws put a lot of pressure on the goaltenders.
No team in the NHL allowed more expected goals and high-danger scoring chances at 5-on-5 than the Canucks, who relied on Thatcher Demko to bail them out night after night. Things haven’t improved in the early part of the new season as Vancouver is allowing 12.4 high-danger chances against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5, which is three more than it is creating.
With Thatcher Demko only delivering mediocre results in goal — he’s skated to a .910 save percentage (SV%) and a -0.3 Goals Saved Above Expected in three games — the Canucks could have trouble keeping the puck out of the net.
Luckily, they have the talent to outscore their defensive flaws and they won’t be going up against a juggernaut on Thursday, either.
The Blackhawks are a bit of a mess right now. Not only are the Hawks winless through four games and coming off a 4-1 defeat to the Islanders in their home opener, but Chicago also ranks dead last in the NHL with a 38.6% expected goals rate, per MoneyPuck.
To make matters worse, Marc-Andre Fleury is really fighting it in goal, allowing 17 goals in his first four games with the Hawks. Fleury, who won the Vezina Trophy last season as the league’s best goaltender, has a -6.6 GSAx, which is the second-worst mark in the NHL so far.
As bad as Fleury has been, his defense is doing much to help him. After finishing just ahead of Vancouver in xGA and high-danger chances allowed last season, the Blackhawks are still too leaky on defense and a couple of defensive breakdowns cost them after a strong first period against the Isles.
Canucks vs. Blackhawks Pick
It’s hard to be confident in the Blackhawks right now, let alone as a favorite. The Canucks have so much scoring talent up front and on their blueline that I can see Vancouver giving the Hawks fits. Throw in the fact that Fleury is really struggling to adjust to playing behind a vulnerable defense, and you have a recipe for disaster.
At +110, Vancouver has an implied win probability of 47.6%. With Chicago’s current form and its defensive deficiencies, I think this number is in range for a play on the underdog.
Pick: Vancouver Canucks -110 or better