Blues vs. Coyotes NHL Odds & Picks: Back St. Louis in Big West Division Matchup (Saturday, April 17)
Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Vince Dunn/
- A playoff spot is potentially on the line when St. Louis and Arizona meet on Saturday.
- The winner will hold be in control of the final spot in the West Division, while the loser will be on the outside looking in.
- Pete Truszkowski explains why he thinks the Blues are the superior team.
Blues vs. Coyotes Odds
|Time||6 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Friday night via DraftKings.|
At the start of the season, most thought they had the NHL’s West Division pegged pretty well. The Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights were Stanley Cup favorites who most expected to occupy the top two seeds in the division. After that, it was widely accepted the St. Louis Blues were clearly the third-best team in the division. The final playoff spot was expected to come down to the Arizona Coyotes, Minnesota Wild and the three California teams.
However, with just about a month remaining in the regular season, things haven’t gone according to plan for the Blues. They’re just barely hanging on to the final playoff spot in the division. The Arizona Coyotes sit just one point behind them. So what can we expect in Saturday’s matchup in which the last playoff spot is on the line?
St. Louis Blues
The Blues enter this contest with a 19-17-6 record, and just like their record, everything about their game so far this season has been mediocre.
St. Louis sits 21st in the league with an expected goal rate of just 47.3%. They are 27th in high danger chance percentage and 20th in shot attempt share. Their offense has particularly struggled, ranking 30th in expected goals scored per hour.
Many view the Blues as potential sleeping giants who are just coasting through the regular season getting ready to turn it up in the playoffs. Part of the reason the Blues have looked mediocre is because they’ve dealt with a fair share of injuries to important players. Players such as Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz and Colton Parayko have missed extended time. Outside of Robert Thomas, the Blues should be healthy for this contest.
Offensively, the Blues have been led by David Perron and Ryan O’Reilly, who are both producing near a point-per-game pace. Vladimir Tarasenko has six points in his last eight games as he begins to settle into the season after missing the first few months.
A positive note for St. Louis lately has been the play of goaltender Jordan Binnington. Binnington leads all goalies in the month of April with a goals saved above expectation (GSAx) mark of +5.31. Binnington is a cult-hero amongst Blues fans for his role in their magical Cup run in 2019, and the Blues need that version of him down the stretch.
The Arizona Coyotes sit just one point behind the Blues and below the playoff cut-off line, but things are not trending in a positive direction for the club. The Coyotes have lost five straight games, and their season hangs in the balance if they can’t right the ship.
Like the Blues, the Coyotes’ analytical profile is nothing to write home about. They sit 22nd in expected goal rate with a 47.2% mark. They sit 25th in both shot attempt rate and high danger chance percentage. Arizona is in the bottom third of the league in both expected goals scored per hour at 5-on-5 and expected goals against.
Offense does not come easy for the Coyotes, as they rank 23rd in goals per game. The team lacks a true game-changing superstar. Players like Phil Kessel, Conor Garland, Nick Schmaltz and Clayton Keller are solid players, but they don’t match up to the elite talent that most teams possess. Arizona has just four goals combined in their last three games.
In the past, the Coyotes have been a team that did a good job of slowing other teams down and limiting opponents’ chances. However, that hasn’t been the case this season. Arizona has given up the eighth most goals in their league. Jacob Chycrun has developed into a force offensively, but the usual shutdown style of the Coyotes hasn’t been on display this season.
A lot of the reason for that has been the goaltending. Darcy Kuemper has played just one complete game since February 22nd, and he just suffered another setback. In his place, the duo of Adin Hill and Antti Raanta have combined for a GSAx mark of -5.9. Arizona doesn’t have the offensive capability to overcome subpar goaltending, and they’ve been asked to do that a lot this season.
Blues vs. Coyotes Best Bet
This is a huge game in the West Division as the winner will end up in a playoff spot at the end of the night with the loser on the outside looking in. At this point, things are beginning to matter a lot, and I expect the cream to rise to the top.
For that reason, I like the Blues in this matchup as small road favorites. Our own Michael Leboff wrote earlier this week about how the Blues were potential sleeping giants and could be worthy of a Stanley Cup futures bet as dark horse long shots. I agree with most of his points.
I expect the Blues to be in the playoffs when all is said and done, and with their tough schedule down the stretch, that means they need to stockpile wins against some of the lesser teams like Arizona.
The Blues have more elite talent, they have a deeper forward group, a better team defense and a goaltender who is currently playing very well. Arizona has lost five straight games and is spiraling at a bad time. The Blues haven’t been a fun team to bet this season, but I continue to put my faith in them.
Pick: St. Louis Blues -132 (-135 or better)