NHL Odds, Expert Pick, Prediction: Canucks vs. Blue Jackets (October 18)

NHL Odds, Expert Pick, Prediction: Canucks vs. Blue Jackets (October 18) article feature image

Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Elias Pettersson & Brock Boeser (Canucks)

  • The Canucks face the Blue Jackets on Tuesday in a battle of winless NHL teams.
  • The Canucks are playing on the second leg of a back-to-back, but will the Blue Jackets take advantage?
  • Nick Martin breaks down the matchup and shares his best bet below.

Canucks vs. Blue Jackets Odds

Canucks Odds-115
Blue Jackets Odds-105
Time7 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The Canucks became the first team in NHL history to open a season with three straight multi-goal collapses Monday as they blew a 4-2 lead against the Capitals en route to a 6-4 final.

The Blue Jackets may have gotten there in less painful fashion, but they also own a record of 0-3-0 and a combined Goal Differential of -9 through three games.

The good news for these fanbases is that one team has to win this game. Which side holds the edge entering Tuesday's showdown?

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Can the Canucks Put a Full Game Together?

Roughly 20 minutes of play into the 2022-23 campaign, the Canucks looked to be a considerably improved side when they were up 3-0 on the road against a strong Oilers team.

Since then we have seen three stunning collapses, leading to one of the much vaunted "players only" meetings after Monday night in Washington.

The Canucks have certainly been far from bad altogether, but they have let small segments of games get away three separate times. This has culminated in an 0-3 record which is likely not indicative of the team's overall play.

The Canucks have played to a 51.24 xGF% in their games against the Oilers, Flyers, and Capitals. One would think this would be a strong enough mark to garner a win with Thatcher Demko in goal.

But the nature of the Canucks' defensive miscues has been quite concerning, and their 2.91 xGA/60 rate is somewhat generous given the team's play overall.

If Vancouver can clean up its defensive play, I believe in what this team has going on at the other end of the ice. Columbus will provide a much easier opponent to keep in check offensively than Edmonton or Washington.

Elias Pettersson has had a strong start to the campaign with four points in three games as he emerges as one of the league's better centers this season. Overage rookie Andrei Kuzmenko has also shined playing on Pettersson's wing, and that duo should compile two parts of a very strong second line moving forward.

However, J.T. Miller and Bo Horvat have both been far from great, causing lots of line juggling from bench boss Bruce Boudreau.

Miller in particular has had a nightmare start to the season, including being on the ice for each of the Canucks first nine goals against. Miller was a logical candidate to regress after last season, when he scored a career best 99 points with a ton of secondary helpers, but it's still obvious to say Miller is capable of more than what we have seen this season.

Vancouver's forward corps is still relatively deep, but their offensive talent can be hindered at times by a poor defensive unit which has a hard time moving the puck up ice.

Thatcher Demko will likely rest Tuesday's contest in this back-to-back situation in favor of backup Spencer Martin. Martin played to a +9.0 GSAx rating and a .950 save % in six NHL games last season and could be a quietly strong backup option this year.

Blue Jackets Need an Improved Defensive Effort

Columbus has suffered three losses as well to open its campaign, yielding 14 Goals Against in those matchups with an Expected Goals For % of just 42.01 %.

While it would be fair to point out that Columbus has played three very tough teams in those games (Hurricanes, Lightning and Blues), the Blue Jackets are quietly likely candidate to step back this season as this poor early form will likely hold.

The addition of an elite player in Johnny Gaudreau obviously seems to heavily move the needle in the right direction.

However, the Blue Jackets also had to clear out one of their better play drivers at five-on-five in Oliver Bjorkstrand due to their big offseason signings, which also cuts into the perceived Gaudreau gain. 

And although I am quite low on Patrik Laine's overall impact, his current absence due to injury is obviously still far from ideal for Columbus, as Gaudreau lacks a pure finisher to line up with at this time.

Signing defensive defensemen Erik Gudbranson to a big ticket in the offseason also rose lots of eyebrows, particularly as it was easy to make the argument that the 6-4 behemoth thrived in Darryl Sutter's system, playing sheltered minutes on an elite Flames defense corps.

That theory looks very strong in the early going of this season, as Gudbranson's results throughout five-on-five play have been very poor, leading to a ton of chances against for the opposition.

Elvis Merzlikins' play in goal will also go a long way in determining how much success the Blue Jackets achieve this season. However, the Blue Jackets' defensive play simply needs to be better for most any goaltender to achieve reasonable results.

Merzlikins played to a +4.0 Goals Saved Above Expected rating last season, which was far better than his .907 save % would suggest, and a comment towards the amount of high danger chances faced on a consistent basis.

Canucks vs. Blue Jackets Pick

Vancouver's early play has arguably still been more impressive than that of Columbus, which makes me feel that the Canucks can fight through this road back-to-back spot and find their first win.

My belief heading into the season as well was that Vancouver would be considerably stronger side than Columbus, and I do believe the Canucks are still skating a deeper roster — especially if some of Vancouver's top players, who are certainly capable, can play like the superstars they are supposed to be in this contest.

Therefore I believe even in this tough spot, we are getting a pretty good number with Vancouver at +110, and I would back the Canucks to win this game down to +100.

Pick: Vancouver Canucks +110 (Play to +100)

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