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Thursday NHL Odds, Picks, Prediction: Vancouver Canucks vs. New York Islanders Betting Preview

Thursday NHL Odds, Picks, Prediction: Vancouver Canucks vs. New York Islanders Betting Preview article feature image

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images. Pictured: Thatcher Demko.

  • The Vancouver Canucks are slight underdogs on Thursday in their matchups against the New York Islanders.
  • Vancouver is coming off a brutal loss, but goaltender Thatcher Demko has kept it competitive of late.
  • Nicholas Martin takes a look at game below and makes his betting pick.

Canucks vs. Islanders Odds

Canucks Odds +105
Islanders Odds -125
Over/Under 5.5
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

Vancouver will head into Long Island looking to keep its playoff aspirations on life support after a 7-2 loss Monday against New Jersey. That defeat was the Canucks’ worst of the Bruce Boudreau era.

The Islanders themselves are holding on to some faint playoff hopes thanks to a poor run from the Capitals. New York has a 7.6% chance of sneaking in, according to MoneyPuck.

Who might claim some desperately needed points here?

Improved Demko Helping Canucks Thrive

The Canucks have regressed from their ridiculously hot start to Boudreau’s tenure. Vancouver has remained in a strong run of form of late, posting a 5-2-0 record over their last seven games, which included wins over top teams in Calgary, New York and Toronto.

A 50.22% expected goals rate during those last seven games is far from a dominant number, but it’s surely playing a close enough brand of hockey to let Thatcher Demko essentially just win goaltending battles and help clean up any messes made by a less than dominant defensive core.

To me, the ridiculously strong play of Demko has been fairly unheralded this season, especially considering that at some points this season Vancouver’s defensive play was so bad, featuring a ton of breakdowns on a poor penalty kill.

Now that Vancouver has cleaned up those breakdowns at least to some extent, Demko has truly thrived. He has a +11.6 goals saved above expected rating and .918 save percentage in 43 games. I expect him to take the net here in what should likely be a low-scoring and close game.

While J.T. Miller is still on board, the Canucks do hold a solid top nine up-front. Especially with Elias Pettersson trending into form, there are some offensive pieces to create.

The Canucks have been a profitable team to back of late. I feel that they’ve been widely slept on as a very respectable team altogether after the treacherous start, even if a huge part of that has simply been Demko improving from his initially very average play.

Struggling Offense Holding Islanders Back

A 3-5-2 stretch from the Islanders has all but ended their playoff hopes, a stretch which has included losses to Buffalo, Montreal and San Jose.

The Islanders have suffered some close losses of late. Contrary to Vancouver, New York has arguably fared somewhat unfavorably record wise of late, holding a 52.78 expected goals rate during its last 10 games, with a slight uptick from that over the last five.

Offensively, the Islanders have looked far from dynamic this season, producing a lowly 2.54 goals for per game. Although they have scored somewhat more effectively of late with a 2.90 rate over the last 10, I still do not love what the Islanders are offering in that regard currently, with a heavy reliance on some aging veterans who haven’t often had it this year.

The offensive creativity has seemed to be leaving something of want a lot of nights, and it does not surprise me to see the Islanders have scored -7.25 goals above expected.

Matt Barzal is still the most dynamic piece of the offense and could be a meaningful absence again tomorrow night.

Ilya Sorokin will likely draw the start here between the pipes. He has been solid this season but has slowly trended downwards from a hot start to the season. Sorokin has a +2.0 goals saved above expected rating and .922 save percentage.

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Canucks vs. Islanders Pick

With Demko in goal, Vancouver has been extremely tough to beat of late. We should see him take the cage here in a pick’em spot against an Islanders team that has not been dominant.

The Islanders did best Vancouver 6-3 earlier in the month, but that was again a Jaro Halak start in a back-to-back spot for the Canucks. Whether Halak has truly played that horribly or not, Demko not playing simply seems to change the complexion games for the Canucks.

Looking at the strong form seen from the Canucks throughout Boudreau’s tenure, especially in these winnable spots and where half the team wasn’t on the covid list, it’s hard for me to not see this game as a pick’em or better for Vancouver.

Even though the recent results have been very comparable with regards to gameplay, I still like more of the offensive upside offered from the Canucks, particularly with Pettersson finding his form and if Barzal sits for New York.

At +105, I see value with the Canucks as an underdog here and would play them down to -110. I also lean toward the under 5.5 as a total. At a minimum, I’d say that the over is a no-bet in my eyes. I will be watching throughout Thursday in case better prices on the under at 5.5 become available.

Pick: Vancouver Canucks +105 (play to -110)

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