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Canadiens at Canucks Betting Preview | Jan. 21

The Montréal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks opened the NHL season with similar online betting odds to win the North Division, but they’re trending in different directions right now.

The Habs are quietly becoming more dangerous on offense, especially with the man advantage while goalie Carey Price continues his high-level play. But the Canucks are both one of the worst offensive and defensive teams, struggling to score or keep from getting scored on.

Karl-Alzner-defends-the-puck-from-Tyler-Toffoli-Canadiens-at-Canucks-Betting
Minas Panagiotakis / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Despite these NHL betting trends, the odds have this game as a competitive one. The Habs will have to continue proving they can keep scoring while the Canucks are desperate to break out of their funk and explode. Either could happen as we look at this all-Canadian matchup.

Canadiens at Canucks

Canadiens: Newfound Offense is Sparking

It may still be too early to call, but the days of Price carrying his goal-starved team are over. Montréal ranked 19th in goals scored per game (2.93) last season, but has already lit the lamp 12 times in three games this year.

The Habs are benefiting from a more potent power play (40%) and are also shooting the puck proficiently with 34 shots a game (5th). On the other end, Price and backup Jake Allen have held down the fort and combined for a 94.7% on even-strength (6th).

Just a year ago, Montréal appeared ready to embrace a full rebuild by jettisoning several key players. But then they made the NHL bubble and upset the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’re proving that’s more of a start to a trend than a fluke.

Still, the Habs are only 20th in scoring chances generated (55) and 19th in high-danger scoring chances for (17). It remains to be seen if Montréal is scoring at a sustainable rate and if they can keep it up over the course of the season.

Canucks: Addled Canucks Looking For a Win

Four games into the season and the Canucks are one of the NHL’s most disappointing teams. After a semifinal run last year, the Canucks were expected to be a contender from the North Division per NHL odds. They have been anything but that.

Vancouver has scored nine goals but allowed 16. Their -1.50 average goal differential is the second-worst in the league and they have yet to score on the power play in 15 tries. On the flip side, they have allowed seven goals from their opponent’s PP, and their 66.7% PK is tied for the fourth-worst.

Although the sky seems to be falling in Vancouver, it’s still early in the season and they still have plenty of talent. Star player C Elias Petersson will need to produce more (1 assist) and G Thatcher Demko will have to be better (88.3 save percent).

Despite their woes, Vancouver still ranks in the upper half of the league in Corsi For percent (50.8%). They just need to shake the rust off and get back to playing Canucks hockey.

Montréal Canadiens vs Vancouver Canucks Betting Takeaway

This is a contrast between the paper team and the on-ice team. The Canucks, on paper, have far more talented skaters, but the Habs have been scoring more efficiently. It could simply be a hot start for Montréal and a slow start for Vancouver and the BetUS sportsbook odds are alluding to that with the pick’em price.

Montréal is not the best at generating scoring chances, but they have taken advantage of the opportunities they get. They are also capitalizing on their power play even if they’ve only drawn ten penalties in their three games.

The Canucks have been having a rough time and rank in the bottom-five in the NHL in most offensive and defensive categories. Their special teams are struggling and Petersson has been quiet. Calgary has their number, but it’s a symptom of potentially chronic problems for this team.

I still favor the Canucks here in terms of their skaters. They are far too talented to remain empty on the power play and Montréal’s PK has been beatable. But between two teams that can score, I side with great goaltending.

Pick: Montréal Canadiens to win (-110)

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