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Sunday NHL Odds, Picks, Prediction: Vancouver Canucks vs. Washington Capitals

Sunday NHL Odds, Picks, Prediction: Vancouver Canucks vs. Washington Capitals article feature image
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Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Elias Pettersson.

  • Vancouver and Washington suit up for the NHL's lone Sunday action.
  • The Canucks have dropped three in a row after a hot start under new coach Bruce Boudreau and are +160 underdogs.
  • Nicholas Martin breaks down the game below and gives his top pick.

Canucks vs. Capitals Odds

Canucks Odds +160
Capitals Odds -190
Over/Under 6
Time 2 p.m. ET
TV NHL Network
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

After a scorching-hot 9-0-1 start under Bruce Boudreau, Vancouver has fallen three consecutive times in regulation. Those road losses, however, have come against three of the league’s very best in Florida, Tampa and Carolina, who continue to dominate nearly all competition.

The Capitals have skated through a shakier stretch of late, but they bounced back with a solid 2-0 win over the Islanders on Saturday on Long island.

Will we see Vancouver break through with a big win here in what figures to be yet another tough road game?

Canucks In First Rough Patch Under Boudreau

After a 9-0-1 start to Bruce Boudreau’s tenure as head coach, the Canucks have fallen back down to earth with three consecutive losses.

However, the nature of the defeats has been very encouraging considering the quality of competition. It’s no doubt tough to jump out of a 10-day layoff into road games against Florida, Tampa and Carolina.

Vancouver produced a 53.07 xGF% against three elite teams on the trip, and although that number means far from everything, it’s been clear that the puck-luck has been very unfavorable to the Canucks so far. They could clearly have produced a higher number of goals, as evidenced by a -5.82 goals scored above expected rating throughout the three games.

The struggles of Elias Pettersson continue to be one of the biggest concerns for the Canucks, as the once dominant young Swede has gone pointless over the road trip. It almost seems cruel to have had someone lacking so much confidence hit two inner posts, while desperately searching for a breakthrough.

The Canucks are offering a quietly formidable top nine should he find form on what could be an excellent second line with Conor Garland and Bo Horvat. I continue to feel that we should see the goals-for-per-game rise under new bench boss Boudreau.

The Canucks’ much improved defensive play has finally cracked the last three times out, allowing 13 goals over the three-game stretch. Although that is only about league average for those three road contests,  it’s not shocking as I still question the effectiveness of essentially all of this defensive core outside of Quinn Hughes.

The goaltending decision tomorrow will be an interesting one, with Thatcher Demko having played Saturday and backup Jaroslav Halak in COVID protocol.

Considering the level of desperation from the Canucks for two points here as they look to keep their thin playoff hopes alive, I think we could see Thatcher Demko go back-to-back.

Demko has been excellent throughout 29 games this season, and he has rightfully earned himself a spot in the All-Star Game with his .915 save % and +5.0 goals saved above expected rating.

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Capitals Finally Ended Losing Streak

Washington bounced back from a season-long four-game losing streak with a 2-0 shutout victory in Long Island on Saturday. It was a markedly sharper effort defensively, although Vanecek was spectacular, and the Islanders did lack some finish.

The Capitals defensive play was likely not as bad as it appeared over the four-game losing streak in which the team allowed 5.13 goals against per game, but it was not nearly as sharp as a xGA/60 of 2.20 suggests either.

We can expect them to be in the upper middle of the pack defensively this season in my eyes. The team will likely need the goaltenders to sharpen up to an extent to truly compete this season.

Ilya Samsonov has offered somewhat inconsistent play again this year, with a -4.4 goals saved above expected rating with a .903 save % this season.

Canucks vs. Capitals Pick

It’s been very clear to the eye that the Canucks have been unlucky to have produced just five goals over this very tough three-game road swing with visits in Florida, Tampa and Carolina, as their -5.82 goals scored above expected rating agrees.

So in turn I like the chances that Vancouver breaks through with a bigger offensive output against Washington here. I could see them getting two or more off of Ilya Samsonov in this spot, as the offensive play has been much stronger than the results indicate, and they are due for better.

However, I still do not trust any of the Canucks’ top defenders’ abilities. They have been exposed consistently this trip against some much tougher offensive competition, after managing to get by for nine much-easier contests of late.

Washington holds the league’s ninth best goals-for-per-game rating this season at 3.29, and I think we should see it get to that average here.

As a considerable underdog at +170, I lean towards Vancouver as a side, but the Over 6 at -105 is my favorite play on the game, particularly with Vancouver’s goaltending situation up in the air. Then I will put a half-unit play on the Canucks team total to go over 2.5 at -105.

Should we see confirmation that Demko will not go back-to-back here to cover the loss of Halak to the COVID list, this gets even better, but regardless I am happy with close to plus money to get over 6.

Pick: Over 6 -105 (Play to -120, or -135 if Demko Sits) | Canucks team total over 2.5 (-105)

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