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Canucks vs. Senators NHL Odds, Pick, Preview (December 1)

Canucks vs. Senators NHL Odds, Pick, Preview (December 1) article feature image
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Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images. Pictured: Brock Boeser

Canucks vs. Senators Odds

Canucks Odds -120
Senators Odds +100
Over/Under 5.5 (-110 / -110)
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
TV ESPN+
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The Canucks finally broke through with a win Monday night, holding on for a 2-1 final over Montreal behind a strong showing from Thatcher Demko. The victory was much needed after a four-game losing streak that included some frustrating losses over the weekend.

Ottawa returns home looking to snap a five-game losing streak of its own, having been altogether outplayed by some manageable competition out West, including a 4-2 loss last time out against the Kings.

Who may hold the upper hand in the battle between these two lottery-bound clubs?

Canucks Struggle Despite Solid Goaltending

They certainly had to work for it, but the Canucks finally broke through in Montreal after two efforts that certainly may have deserved such a result in Columbus and Boston last weekend.

Tucker Poolman’s awful pass up the middle leading to Ryan Poehling’s game-tying goal late in the first Monday night was a good summation of Vancouver’s issues this season.

The pass and ensuing goal encapsulated both the awful puck movement seen from all of the depth defensemen consistently this year, as well as a notable breakdown at a horrible time making things harder than they needed to be, similar to Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s awful penalty which led to a late collapse in Boston the night before.

Vancouver have played with some notable urgency of late, but those key breakdowns have led to a number of tough losses even with a 52.75 xGF% and strong starting net-minder in Demko.

There’s still a lot of pieces to like up front from the Canucks, and if guys like Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser can start to click the unit offers some strong depth, with Connor Garland being every bit as advertised.

A big part of the forwards’ struggles come in the lack of talent altogether on the back end. The puck movement is shaky, the play in the offensive zone is far from strong and the transitional defense has been notably suspect at times as well.

People may point to Travis Green for some the team’s early failure, which may be fair to an extent, but more likely most causation comes from GM Jim Benning, who simply has not equipped him with a defensive core likely to post acceptable results.

Demko owning just a .908 save % and -0.0 goals saved above expected rating (GSAx) is a comment on the Canucks’ poor play in front of goal, although they have appeared be playing sharper in front of goal the last stretch even if the results haven’t been great.

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Senators’ Season Has Gone Awry

This season has been a complete disaster in the early going for a Senators, who were very scrappy down the stretch last season. Ottawa looked so good late last season that owner Eugene Melnyk proclaimed the team ready to compete as early as the 2021-22 season.

A rough COVID situation leading to eventual postponements certainly has seemed to worsen things of late, but the roster does appear far from ready to compete in the short-term.

As well, injuries to Colin White and Shane Pinto, among others at times, haven’t helped. But most concerning could be the play of Brady Tkachuk and Tim Stuetzle, who appear to be fighting through some NHL growing pains.

The two haven’t been awful by any means, but there isn’t a ton of depth up front for the Senators, and it isn’t surprising to see them down in 27th in goals for per game considering those two haven’t taken strides forward so far this season.

The Senators’ team defense has been even worse, with a patchwork defensive crew, some soft help from the forwards and some poor starting goaltending leading to the league’s worst goals against per game mark of 3.84.

The starting goaltending situation has been rough altogether, and the team’s expected number one in Matt Murray now finds himself skating in the AHL. Behind him Anton Forsberg hasn’t been good, and Filip Gustavsson has been far from great, although his reasonable play of late should make him the favorite to start this game.

Gustavsson has stopped .907% of shots faced, with a -0.5 GSAx rating over 9 games so far.

Senators vs. Canucks Pick

Although Vancouver’s roster does hold some notable flaws, the Canucks certainly offer more for the time being, and have even carried more of the play of late, while Ottawa were thoroughly outplayed by some reasonable competition out West, with a dreadful 35.04 xGF% over its five-game losing streak.

Couple that with some below-average goaltending, and it’s only somewhat shocking the Senators own a horrific -15 goal differential over the skid.

I am sure Ottawa will come out energized, looking to reset at home after a tough road trip, and I do think the COVID shutdown threw them out of sorts to an extent. But I still feel the roster and current form doesn’t offer enough to warrant being priced this closely to a Vancouver team that has played better the last few times out than Monday’s lone win indicates.

At -120 I see some value in backing the Canucks to make it two straight, and I would play their moneyline down to -130.

Pick: Vancouver Canucks Moneyline -120

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