NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Canucks vs. Devils (February 28)
Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Thatcher Demko.
Canucks vs. Devils Odds
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
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Vancouver heads to New Jersey looking to make it four straight wins after a crucial win Sunday night at MSG. The Canucks must try to stockpile some points to keep their thin playoff hopes alive.
New Jersey has allowed a ton of goals against this year, in large part due to some below-average goaltending, something continued Friday in an 8-5 loss to the Blackhawks.
Can New Jersey prevent the Canucks from another big offensive output here?
Will Demko Go for Canucks?
Sunday night’s 5-2 win over New York moved the Canucks to 18-7-4 over the entirety of Bruce Boudreau’s tenure as head coach, which is even more impressive compared to the lowly results seen prior to his addition.
The main downturns over Boudreau’s tenure have come with the roster heavily depleted or over the tough Florida/Tampa/Carolina road swing. As expected, Boudreau seems to be beginning to get the most out of a quietly deep forward core, including reigniting the offensive game of Elias Pettersson, who appeared a shell of his former self early on this season.
Over their last eight contests the Canucks have played to a 4.62 goals for per game average. They could certainly see that trend continue here against a New Jersey team that has allowed goals in bunches all season long.
As you might expect, Vancouver has still outscored its expected mark by a wide margin over the eight-game span, but it’s still clear the level of form and confidence a number of its top pieces are playing with. I expect we see that continue against the Devils. The question may be more so how well the team can keep the Devils attack in check, particularly if Thatcher Demko doesn’t go back-to-back in goal.
Over the last five contests, the Canucks have managed a strong 53.75 expected goals rate. The play has certainly looked a level above that, even outside of Sunday night’s game where some huge saves from Demko early on helped curve the final score.
It’s unclear whether we will see Demko go back-to-back here or not, but I am actually expecting the Canucks will ultimately decide to roll their most crucial player out again having next to no games to waste in the playoff race, but confirmation is worth checking.
Demko holds a +9.3 goals saved above expected rating and a .917 save % throughout 41 games played this season, and I would certainly argue he has even been better than a number of goalies with better statistics than that.
Devils Have Clear Issues in Goal
Friday’s contest against Chicago offered the same old story for the Devils and their fans: a reasonably well-played contest ending in a loss after allowing far more goals than expected.
The loss came just one night after a strong 6-1 win over the Penguins. But with another five goals on the board in that one, New Jersey has produced an average of 4.71 goals for per game over its last seven contests.
Jesper Bratt has returned to the lineup in dominant form with five points in two games, remaining one of the league’s best kept secrets. He is way up on my list of favorite players league wide to watch.
Over their last six contests, the Devils hold a 51.33 expected goals rate, managing a 3-3 record while playing some notably high-scoring hockey. Offensively there is a lot to like about this Devils roster, but I think beyond that their are some clear concerns, especially in goal.
I imagine we see Nico Daws get the start here, after giving the Devils a rare strong goaltending performance in Pittsburgh his last time out, stopping 37 of 38 shots faced.
Daws holds a +0.3 goals saved above expected rating with a .906 save % throughout five games played this season.
Canucks vs. Devils Pick
To me, the Devils’ defensive play continues to be less sharp than the analytical numbers say, but the goaltending has clearly been the biggest part of the defensive woes. At times, however, it can be hard to fully dictate what is the true causation of the goals against totals with those things going hand in hand.
Either way, a ton of goals have gone in their net all season long, and I think we should see Vancouver able to post a strong offensive output here, even if Nico Daws seems to be capable of stepping up with closer-to-league-average play.
Whether or not that may pay dividends with regards to a win could come down to whether the Canucks play Halak or Demko, but either way we should see the Devils manage a reasonable total.
So my first play on the game is going to be backing the over 6 at -105 regardless of goalie confirmation, and I would look towards that line now. I would play it down to -140, should Halak start, and to just -115 should Demko play).
Secondly I am going to wait to see confirmation on a Demko start, but should he get the nod for Vancouver, I will also be playing the Canucks moneyline down to -115.
Pick: Vancouver Canucks Moneyline With Demko confirmation (Play to -115) | Over 6 (Play to -140 if Halak Starts, to -115 if Demko)