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Vancouver Canucks Try to Steal One Against Montreal Canadiens

NHL Betting Preview

We are back again with another NHL betting preview and prediction for our readers and make sure you check out our NHL odds over at best online betting site BetUs. Just two points separate the Vancouver Canucks (15-16-2) and Montreal Canadiens (13-8-8) in the North Division standings, but both clubs will have a chance to improve their position Friday night in Montreal. Friday’s game will be the eighth meeting between the teams this season, with the ninth and final meeting Saturday night.

The Canadiens have won five of the seven meetings, and both Canucks wins have come in the shootout.

Goalie Thatcher Demko of the Vancouver Canucks eyes the loose puck as teammate Brock Boeser changes direction to give chase
Rich Lam/Getty Images/AFP

As you might expect, the NHL odds suggest Montreal is the favorite at home Friday night with (-180) odds. The road Canucks check-in at (+160). Puck drop is at 7:00 P.M. Eastern on ESPN+.

Vancouver Canucks Preview

While their last two games against Ottawa both required overtime, Vancouver still found a way to win. The Canucks are 7-2-0 in their last nine games, which is their best nine-game stretch of the season.

Vancouver’s defense has been their Achilles heel all season, but particularly against the Canadiens. On the season as a whole, the Canucks allow 3.15 goals per game; against Montreal, that number jumps up to 4.86. In seven games against the Canadiens, Vancouver has been outscored 34-19. The Canucks also allow 33.7 shots per game, second-most in the NHL. However, against Montreal, they’re allowing 37 shots per game and have allowed 40 or more on three occasions.

Surprisingly, Vancouver’s penalty kill has actually been above average this season. The 81.2% PK unit ranks 10th in the league, so playing with more intensity at even strength is key. Among goaltenders with at least 10 starts this season, G Thatcher Demko has the second-lowest average shot distance, while G Braden Holtby ranks 20th in the same category. Those numbers indicate the Canucks defense allows opponents to position closer to the net, leading to more high-danger opportunities and scoring chances.

Though unconfirmed at the time of publication, G Thatcher Demko is expected to start in net Friday. This season, he has an 11-10-1 record with a 2.69 GAA, a .920 save percentage, and a shutout. However, he and Holtby (4-6-1, 3.56 GAA, .893 save percentage) will likely split starts over back-to-back games.

LW Tanner Pearson is day-to-day after leaving Wednesday’s game against Ottawa, but he should be good to go. RW Justin Bailey, RW/C Jay Beagle, and C Elias Pettersson are all out until next week.

Montreal Canadiens Preview

If you’re taking a player prop bet for Friday night’s game, C Tyler Toffoli is the no-brainer pick. Not only does he lead the Canadiens in goals (18) and points (27), he’s also scored eight goals and five assists against the Canucks this year. He’s clearly playing with a chip on his shoulder after Vancouver did not resign him following the 2020 season.

D Jeff Petry is making a strong case to be the Norris Trophy winner this season as the league’s top defenseman. He leads all defensemen with 11 goals and is tied for third with 25 points. He is also a leader in several advanced stat categories, including Corsi and Expected Goals.

Since firing head coach Claude Julien on February 24, the Canadiens are 4-3-4. Their eight overtime/shootout losses this season are the most of any team, and with Montreal barely hanging on to fourth place in the North, interim coach Dominique Ducharme may be on thin ice as well.

G Carey Price is likely to start Friday’s game between the pipes. Price is 9-5-5 with a 2.66 GAA and a .907 save percentage on the year. Again, this is unconfirmed, so we could see Jake Allen (4-3-3, 2.28 GAA, .922 save percentage), but everything I’ve seen indicates Price.

The Pick Is In

While the Canadiens have owned the series throughout the season, I think the Canucks steal Friday’s game on the road. Montreal has not won back-to-back games since February 1-2, coincidentally against Vancouver. However, with the Canucks starting to string wins together, I think there’s a good chance for an upset.

It looks like the best NHL betting pick here is to go with the Vancouver Canucks. The betting value is there too. I’m rolling with the Canucks (+160) to win Friday’s game and put the past behind them.

Betting Pick: Vancouver Canucks (+160)

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