NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Canucks vs. Sharks (February 17)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Canucks vs. Sharks (February 17) article feature image

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images. Pictured: Elias Pettersson (40) and J.T. Miller (9).

  • The Vancouver Canucks cross the border for Thursday's NHL showdown with the San Jose Sharks.
  • Oddsmakers have made this game as close to even on the numbers, but our analyst has found a side he's backing in this Western Conference clash.
  • Check out below why he's targeting Vancouver as his top selection.

Canucks vs. Sharks Odds

Canucks Odds-115
Sharks Odds-105
Time10:30 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

Teams featuring nearly identical records this season get reacquainted Thursday when the San Jose Sharks host the Vancouver Canucks in this Pacific Division showdown.

Vancouver has run hot over head coach Bruce Boudreau's tenure, so will they be able to claim a massive win here from a scuffling Sharks team to keep their faint playoff hopes alive? Let's take a look at this matchup.

Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks have cooled off to an extent, but under Boudreau they have still gone 14-6-4 overall, which is ridiculous upswing compared to this team's dreadful results prior.

There's no argument this team is what Calgary is, but I pointed out when covering it in January that it was clearly knocked off stride by COVID-19 postponements, scheduling lapses and the brutal Eastern road swing, with those arguments also applying to Vancouver.

Not to mention it actually had to play games with an insanely depleted roster due to COVID-19 issues, unlike Calgary, and struggled on that eastern trip. So, I don't think the dropoff from where it was is as steep as the results suggest.

The playoffs are looking very unlikely, but the Canucks will have a huge opportunity to make up ground over the next three games in which they take on the San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and Seattle Kraken.

Quinn Hughes is set to make his return here, and will offer a massive boost for a team who are notably shorthanded on the back end, and heavily reliant upon him to play big minutes at a strong level. Up front, the Canucks will be at full strength, and that makes for a more formidable top nine than the Sharks can offer, particularly if Elias Pettersson can continue to make a difference. He has managed 10 points, including seven goals in his last 12 games.

Thatcher Demko will get the start after an unreal 51-save performance against Toronto on Saturday, stealing a victory from one of the league's better units. Altogether Demko holds a +12.4 goals saved above expected rating with a .921 save % throughout 37 games.

San Jose Sharks

It's a little hard to say exactly where the Sharks level will be at moving forward facing some less formidable competition, but a 3-6-1 mark over their last 10 games with just a 44.17 expected goals mark is not a positive comment.

Outside of Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture, there's little driving the team's offensive play, particularly with Erik Karlsson sidelined. They will have a tough task looking to trend upward in that regard against Vancouver, which has allowed the league's fifth-lowest goals against per game rate.

James Reimer has been solid and should get the start, having produced a +5.9 goals saved above expected rating with a .916 save % throughout 27 games.

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Canucks vs. Sharks Pick

At full strength, I like more of what Vancouver has to offer than San Jose, plus it has managed to win at a considerably better rate over Boudreau's tenure than the Sharks have during that period.

Vancouver will enter at full strength up front, and the combination of Miller, Garland, Pettersson, Horvat and Boeser is more than the Sharks have to offer, and the return of Hughes is massive for their porous defensive unit.

Reimer has been strong this year, but it's still easy to argue Demko is capable of producing play far beyond Reimer, and there has to be a perceived goaltending edge for Vancouver there.

Under Boudreau, the Canucks have done a good job of claiming all of the more winnable games against middling competition, particularly when healthy, and this sets up as a great spot to do so yet again.

At -115 odds, I feel we have enough value to back Vancouver, as it looks to compound the struggles for San Jose, which has  gone 3-6-1 over their last 10 games with just a 44.17 xGF percentage.

Pick: Vancouver ML -115 (Play to -125)

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