NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Canucks vs. Panthers (Jan. 11)
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Canucks vs. Panthers Odds
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
For a Canucks team skating through an 8-0-1 turnaround under new hire Bruce Boudreau, a 10-day layoff couldn’t have come at a more frustrating time.
Worse yet is that the Canucks will return to play in the league’s toughest environment, a road game at the FLA Live Arena where the Panthers have gone 18-3-0 this season.
Will Vancouver be able to battle through a nightmare spot and keep their point streak alive?
The Panthers Are Dominant at Home
Florida’s home-ice domination has become appointment viewing for hockey fans. The team plays a very watchable up-tempo style and seem to turn it up a few notches at FLA Live Arena, where the Cats are 18-3-0 and have a +1.62 average goal differential in 21 games.
In short, blindly betting the Panthers to cover the puck-line on home ice would have been a profitable strategy this season and I think this is another tempting spot to follow that trend, as Vancouver’s improved defensive play under Boudreau has come against lesser offensive teams, which has helped boost the numbers.
Now the Canucks will face a team that is second in the NHL in goals per game, first in high-danger chances created on home ice and first in expected goals for per 60 minutes this season. And although Florida does give up plenty of scoring chances on defense, the Cats are happy to play in high-event games and bet on themselves to come out on top.
Florida continued to post strong results over the past week, defeating a pair of top-notch teams in Calgary and Carolina en route to a 3-0-1 stretch.
Sergei Bobrovsky has played the last three games for the Panthers, so this could be a logical spot to start rookie Spencer Knight, who I was admittedly wrong about coming into this season.
While Bobrovsky has been superb this season, Knight has skated to a subpar .896 save percentage and a -2.7 GSAx in 14 games this season. A start for Knight would be a little bit of a blow to Florida’s chances, but I am willing to live with it and hope the Panthers offense continues to click.
Is Vancouver’s Resurgence Legit?
Vancouver has done a terrific job finding ways to win games under Bruce Boudreau. Considering where the Canucks were before the change behind the bench, this 8-0-1 stretch is simply amazing in a league with so much parity.
That said, Vancouver’s first nine games under Boudreau came against a pretty easy schedule. Since Boudreau took over, the average standing position of Vancouver’s opponents was 16.4 out of 32. And that doesn’t mention that a handful of those teams were Pacific Division teams skating with inflated record thanks to easier schedules compared to Florida.
Since Boudreau’s arrival the Canucks have played to a 50.6% expected goals rate, and while that number is far from poor, it is fair to say an 8-0-1 run of play with that mark is surprising.
These long layoffs often lead to sluggish performances, so I think it’s easy to see Florida blitzing this vulnerable defense.
Goaltender Thatcher Demko’s continued excellence has been a massive part of the story, but it’s still probably fair to say that down the stretch the Canucks will continue to post improved play, but will be far from dominant.
Thatcher Demko should start here, and has posted a +7.9 GSAx with a .920 save percentage throughout 27 games played this season, and has arguably looked even better than those numbers suggest.
Canucks vs. Panthers Pick
I have previewed Canucks games four times since Boudreau took over — backing Vancouver each time — and gone 4-0 to the tune of +3.78 units in those plays. But as much as I’ve enjoyed the ride of late, I can’t see this run of form continuing after a 10-day layoff against the fast-paced Panthers.
Vancouver should legitimately turn its season around under Boudreau, but this team is still not even close to the Panthers in terms of overall talent, so I think there’s good reason to back the Cats to win this game in style.
The Panthers have had no issue scoring goals all season and make a habit of winning by multiple goals, so I have no problem laying the -1.5 with Florida at +120. In addition, DraftKings is offering a same-game parlay with Panthers -1.5/Over 6.5 at +330 and I think that number is also playable. If you don’t have access to that and want to go the SGP route, you can combine the moneyline with the over as well (most books won’t allow -1.5 parlayed with the over as they are so correlated).
Pick: Panthers -1.5 (+120, Play to +105)
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