NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Canucks vs. Ducks (Dec. 29)
Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Elias Pettersson.
Canucks vs. Ducks Odds
|Time||10:30 p.m. ET|
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Bruce Boudreau’s scorching hot Canucks will head in to Anaheim looking to remain undefeated under his eye and push their winning streak to seven games against a Ducks team holding a strong 6-1-3 record over their last 10.
Dallas Eakins’ upstart young Ducks hold a 10-point edge over the Canucks in the Pacific Division for the time being, but could Vancouver continue hacking into that gap tomorrow night in Anaheim?
To the surprise of few, Boudreau’s more up-tempo style has benefited a number of the Canucks top forwards such as Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser, and the sense of positivity surrounding the new situation from the roster is clear.
The results have been excellent, with a vastly improved 3.5 Goals For per game under Boudreau, +11 Goal Differential and a 6-0 record.
The team is obviously going to see some regression and has done well to claim some close victories over that stretch including two shootout wins. The sense of confidence and an expectation to win is palpable and a notable change from Travis Green’s last days.
Upfront I love what this team has to offer. If J.T. Miller and Conor Garland can continue their spectacular performances this season, there’s actually a lot of depth behind as Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, Nils Hoglander, and Vasily Podkolzin each offers some notable offensive upside.
To see them all showing more effectively under Boudreau is far from surprising, but the question will be how well they can support a suspect defensive unit moving forward, with a back end clearly holding some notably lesser talents.
The Canucks’ absence list includes two notable defensemen in Tyler Myers and Tucker Poolman, but otherwise we should see the majority of the relevant pieces take the ice, and compared to the Ducks’ absences (Zegras), that is actually a win.
Myers has been notably better under Boudreau, and he could potentially return, and if not his numbers are still not far above replacement value. Tucker Poolman’s absence on the back end is arguably a win, as he has been consistently exposed. It is conceivable that minor leaguers such as Ashton Sautner and Jack Rathbone could handle those minutes more effectively.
Thatcher Demko should draw the start here and has arguably been even better than a +6.5 Goals Saved Above Expected rating and .919 Save % suggests because the Canucks’ horrific penalty kill has allowed dozens of unstoppable goals.
The Canucks’ utterly horrific penalty kill has trended upwards considerably under Boudreau, with a 83.4 % Success Rate over his six games, compared to a 64.6% mark previously. Some differing personnel on the unit, a more aggressive neutral zone strategy and a more aggressive in-zone box deployment have been notable reasons for the improved success rate.
Anaheim’s offensive depth will face a stiff test tomorrow night against a Vancouver team that has allowed next to nothing of late. The Ducks will be without some key pieces as Trevor Zegras has entered Covid protocols and will be sidelined for the contest, as well as Adam Henrique among others.
Zegras’ dominance on the top line of late has been a big reason for the Ducks’ 6-1-3 surge, and Henrique has quietly been one of the club’s top producers with 16 points in 24 contests himself.
Dallas Eakins’ group has seen contributions from a number of other areas upfront, but I still question whether they truly hold the talent to sustain a 12th-best 3.16 Goals For per game mark going forward this season, even with those guys in the lineup.
A number of players have put together career-best starts, and I think it’s possible we will see somewhat of a drop off over the back half of the season.
Anaheim will likely go with John Gibson in net here, who holds a .913 Save % and a -3.6 GSAx rating throughout 23 games played this season.
Ducks vs. Canucks Pick
When we look towards Vancouver’s considerably better form under Boudreau and the Ducks significant absences, there’s clearly more value on the Canucks as a side at +105. These two clubs will hold similar records the back half of the season, but the Canucks could also outperform the Ducks going forward, and consequently, I like getting the Canucks as an underdog here.
I have been expecting this Ducks roster to fall into some offensive regression as the year wears along, and now with Zegras set to miss some time due to COVID, the offense takes a notable hit while Henrique, Jones, Comtois, and Steel also remain out upfront.
Even though the Ducks have put together considerably better offensive results altogether this season, I prefer the talent offered from the Canucks’ top three lines more because of Anaheim’s absences and Boudreau unlocking the potential from the top pieces, as he always seems to do.
Getting Vancouver as an underdog here is really appealing to me, and I think we will likely see a worse line closer to puck-drop, so I like the idea of getting on this early.
Pick: Vancouver Canucks +105 (Play to -110)