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NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Canadiens vs. Canucks (March 9)

NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Canadiens vs. Canucks (March 9) article feature image
Credit:

Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Thatcher Demko.

  • The Canucks host the Canadiens in the second game on an NHL doubleheader on TNT as home favorites.
  • Both teams are surging under new coaches, but which one is less likely to regress on Wednesday?
  • Nick Martin breaks down the matchup and shares his best bet below.

Canadiens vs. Canucks Odds

Canadiens Odds +180
Canucks Odds -210
Over/Under 6
Time 10:30 p.m. ET
TV TNT
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The Montreal Canadiens have significantly changed the narrative surrounding their lowly season since hiring NHL legend Martin St. Louis. They have posted an impressive 7-4-0 record under him.

They will meet a Vancouver club that has posted a dominant record since a coaching shakeup, skating to a 20-9-4 record under Bruce Boudreau, who holds the highest winning percentage in NHL history as bench boss.

Can the Canucks continue their surge towards an unlikely playoff berth here against the upstart Canadiens?

Canucks Surging Under Boudreau

The Canucks have proven to be a wildly profitable team to back since Boudreau’s hiring. Their 20-9-4 tear they have put together in the time since his hiring has boosted their playoff chances from below 4% to 25% (MoneyPuck).

The current buy-in and confidence from the group chasing the postseason seems as high as ever. They have managed a 7-2-0 record over their last nine games, with a solid 51.22 Expected Goals Rate over that time.

That’s not an incredible Expected Goals mark, but any respectable mark in that regard is dangerous for a team getting the spectacular goaltending the Canucks have seen from Thatcher Demko. He has clearly been in incredible form all season long, and the uptick is in part due to Vancouver allowing fewer breakdowns in the defensive zone.

This has been especially valuable for the Canucks on the Penalty Kill, where early on Demko’s numbers were thrashed with the team allowing a ton of plays back and forth through the box.

The group up front for Vancouver is strong with J.T. Miller, Elias Pettersson finding his form, and some strong talent behind them. This unit should continue posting better offensive results moving forward, as they have done recently.

Can the Canadiens Sustain their Recent Success?

The Canadiens have dramatically improved since the St. Louis hiring, and it’s very clear that he has created a situation where the players are excited to come to the rink and work each day.

Over the last eight games Montreal holds a 6-2-0 record and has played to a strong Expected Goals Rate of 53.36. However, I don’t expect this roster to hold such a dominant level of play over a wider scope, although they certainly can’t be viewed as a 31st-ranked outfit anymore play wise.

Part of the concern is that eventually it’s going to be very hard to win games with the current goaltending unit of Sam Montembeault, Andrew Hammond, or Jake Allen.

It’s unclear whether Montembeault or Hammond will start here. Expect Hammond to regress at some point, as a player who has posted average AHL results for multiple seasons shouldb’t be expected to continue posting strong NHL play, although it is a great story.

Montembeault holds a -9.5 Goals Saved Above Expected rating with an .897 Save % in 27 games played this season. Hammond has played to a +3.4 Goals Saved Above Expected rating with a .920 Save % in four games.

Canadiens vs. Canucks Pick

While Montreal will continue to be undervalued in certain spots, the Canucks are the play in this matchup.

Vancouver has been simply phenomenal under Boudreau in spots where points are manageable. This has been a big part of the tremendous recent record, but the Canucks have even claimed some points from much stiffer competition too.

The Canucks have no room to spare with regards to dropping winnable points and should be desperate to keep their playoff surge going. Vancouver could control more of the run of play than usual against a Montreal defense which is still very gettable. The Canadiens will also be vulnerable without Jeff Petry, whose turnaround in form has been part of their uptick.

Demko is in ridiculously strong form for the Canucks and seems content to drag this team on his back to the playoffs. He will duel here against either Montembault or Hammond, and either way that’s a big edge for the Canucks.

Expect a Vancouver win inside of regulation, and at -125, this is my favorite play for this game.

Pick: Vancouver Canucks 3-Way Moneyline -125 (Play to -140)

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