Senators vs. Canucks NHL Odds & Pick: The Wrong Team is Favored in Vancouver (Saturday, April 24)

Senators vs. Canucks NHL Odds & Pick: The Wrong Team is Favored in Vancouver (Saturday, April 24) article feature image

Rich Lam/Getty Images. Pictured: Quinn Hughes of Vancouver and Josh Norris of Ottawa.

  • Ottawa and Vancouver meet for the second time in three nights after the Senators won 3-0 on Thursday.
  • It was Vancouver's first loss since returning from its COVID pause after two wins over Toronto.
  • Matt Russell explains why the wrong team is favored in the second game of this four-game series between the teams.

Senators vs. Canucks Odds

Senators Odds+120
Canucks Odds-140
Time | TVSaturday, 10 p.m. ET
Odds as of Saturday and via BetMGM.

In the never-ending search for betting value in the NHL, especially at this point deep into the season, you rarely stumble onto a situation where the wrong team may be favored. It probably wouldn’t go over well in bar debates, but the Senators are the better team in this matchup.

The Canucks have managed epic wins over the Leafs as big underdogs, but not much else this season. Their wins over the Senators have come when Ottawa was struggling to find quality goaltending early in the season and in the NHL’s version of a black or red roulette bet when they went to overtime in back-to-back games in Ottawa last month. 

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Ottawa Senators

On Thursday night, the Senators got more than just adequate goaltending as they shut out the Canucks in what could have been labelled a letdown spot for Vancouver. There’s a decent chance the game was more a result of the Canucks just being exhausted as the effects of the games with Toronto left them unable to raise their play. Moreover, the Senators might just be better at this point in the season. 

While neither team is particularly good, or even league-average, the Senators have created 48.1% of the even-strength High-Danger Chances in their games this season. Meanwhile the Canucks have garnered just 46.6% of the HDC in their games. After starting the season 2-13 on the moneyline, the Senators are 15-17 since, and have improved their even-strength rating in my “Let’s Do That Hockey” model (as heard on THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast) by playing at just 2% below-average 5-on-5. 

The improved results have come despite the goaltending being subpar in March (3.31 GAA, .902 save pct), as four goaltenders got time in the crease for Ottawa.

In April, the Senators have managed a 2.82 Goals-Against Average and .921 save pct. However, it’s their number-1 goalie that has done the heavy-lifting in that span. Matt Murray has returned from the Injured List and brought his top form with him. Murray is 3-1 with a 1.26 GAA, .957 save percentage and a pair of shutouts. 

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Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.

Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.

xG numbers and advanced stats cited from Evolving Hockey, MoneyPuck and Natural Stat Trick.

Vancouver Canucks

One of those shutouts came on Thursday in Vancouver, knocking off the favored Canucks. Vancouver got a lot of credit after beating Toronto, but we have to investigate those wins further. 

Vancouver won the first game on Sunday in overtime, on the back of a 37-save performance by Braden Holtby, as they only mustered five even-strength High-Danger Chances on offence to the Leafs' barrage of 14 of them. Two nights later, the Canucks won a little more convincingly on the scoreboard, with a 6-3 win, on the back of another 37-save performance by Holtby, and while the HDCs were closer, the Leafs still won the 5-on-5 Expected Goal category 2.56-1.88. 

So it was no surprise that the perceived drop in competition with the Senators coming to town didn’t pan out the way Canucks fans may have hoped. As currently constructed without their star Elias Petterson, Vancouver’s talent isn’t any better than Ottawa’s. Thatcher Demko returned against Ottawa but it would have been a lot to ask of him to come in and play to the high level that Braden Holtby had in the two wins against the Leafs. He wasn’t to blame for the loss, stopping 22 of 24 shots. It was the Canucks inability to convert on any of their High-Danger Chances or their power plays. 

Betting Analysis & Pick

My “Let’s Do That Hockey” model shows the Senators as 4% below-average at even-strength, compared to a worse than 8% below-average rating for the Canucks. 

Vancouver averages 2.09 Expected Goals Against (XGA) at even-strength, which is the worst in the North Division. Of course, that’s including the Senators who have a 1.94 XGA, a number that was being surpassed early in the season when teams were converting 1.66 High-Danger Chances per game on top of the most soft goals in the league. Now the Senators allow just .90 High-Danger Chance conversions per game.

This updated version of the Sens is a better edition of the current Canucks. Even a modest adjustment for the Canucks playing at home isn’t enough to justify making the Sens a +120 underdog, so I’m fine with backing them for a second straight time. 

Pick: Senators (+120 or better)

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