NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Bruins vs. Canucks (Dec. 8)
Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Bruce Boudreau
- The Bruins are road favorites against a struggling Canucks team on Wednesday night.
- Can Boston's inexperienced goaltending lead them to a much-needed road win?
- Pat Pickens breaks down the game and give his top pick below.
Bruins vs. Canucks Odds
|Time||9 p.m. ET|
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The Boston Bruins will open their three-game Western Canada stretch with a game against the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday.
The Canucks have played better of late, despite firing coach Travis Green and general manager Jim Benning on Monday. Vancouver has won three of its past four after winning just three of its previous 13 games.
The Bruins are coming off a 3-2 defeat to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. Boston has alternated wins and losses over its past eight.
When Will the Bruins Get Going?
The Bruins find themselves in an unfamiliar place: On the outside of the playoffs looking in. Boston’s play-driving metrics look exceptional as it has the NHL’s third-best 5-on-5 Corsi-for percentage (54.9) and best expected goals percentage in the league (56.6), according to Natural Stat Trick. Yet, the Bruins have been unlucky offensively with the lowest team-shooting percentage at 5-on-5 (5.8).
Boston’s inexperienced goaltending, headlined by Jeremy Swayman, has been serviceable but not stellar thus far. The Bruins rank 21st in the NHL in team save percentage (.916) at 5-on-5, and Swayman (-0.76) and reserve goalie Linus Ullmark (-1.70) rank 36th and 44th respectively in goals saved above average among qualifying goalies.
Still, Boston has a plus-5 goal differential and will get forward and leading scorer Brad Marchand back from suspension for the game against Vancouver.
Marchand, who is tops on the team with nine goals and 24 points, missed the past three games due to a slew foot on Canucks defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Changes for the Canucks
The Canucks had high hopes for this season after some of their offseason wheeling and dealing, but those have fallen flat after a 9-15-2 start that led to the hiring of Bruce Boudreau as new coach Monday.
The Canucks defeated the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night but have been largely done in by their shoddy special teams and poor luck offensively. Vancouver ranks dead last in the NHL in penalty-kill percentage (65.5) and is shooting just 6 percent at 5-on-5, third-worst in the NHL.
Star center Elias Pettersson, who is shooting 16.3 percent for his career, has just four goals and ranks tied for 421st in the league in shooting percentage (6.4 percent)
Poor Thatcher Demko has been under siege this season, playing the most minutes (1232:51) and facing the most shots (660) of any goaltender in the NHL thus far. His .912 save percentage ranks 34th-best in the NHL. Backup Jaroslav Halak, who fell in his most recent start against his former team in Boston on November 28, does not yet have a win in six games this season.
Canucks vs. Bruins Pick
Boudreau is going to do great things in Vancouver, we have no doubt, particularly since there is talent on the roster, but this feels like a game where the Bruins feast. Boston toyed with Vancouver before roaring back for two third-period goals to win 3-2 in regulation.
I think the Bruins have a good matchup here, as the Canucks have been abysmal on defense, while Boston is near the top of the NHL in xG against and high-danger chances allowed. That should allow the B’s to get the separation needed to turn this one into a blowout.
Pick: Boston -1.5 (+160)