It’s unlikely the Edmonton Oilers catch Toronto for the top spot in the North Division, but a four-game sweep of the Vancouver Canucks will get them into striking range. As expected, Edmonton is a sizable -210 betting favorite this Monday.
Hats off to the Canucks (19-23-3) for even managing to get back on the ice and compiling some wins over Toronto after a three-week absence due to a scary case of COVID. They’ll be lively +175 underdogs as they host the surging Oilers (30-17-2) for the first of four games.
Oilers: The Jury is Still Out
I’d like to believe in the Edmonton Oilers. I really do. This franchise’s fans have been through so much and Connor McDavid, the best hockey player in the world, deserves it. But the team isn’t so different from the inconsistent team that McDavid’s played for since he got drafted.
Sure, the Oilers are firmly in second place in the division. But it’s mainly because the division is the worst in the NHL and the Oilers have four teams it can pile up goals against.
Edmonton is 8-3-1 since April with a 12-goal differential. And yet a lot of that has been the result of some hot netminding from Mike Smith and some hot shooting, mainly thanks to McDavid.
Digging deeper into Edmonton’s numbers, they’re in the red for most of the other major stats: corsi, scoring chances, and offensive zone starts percent (oZS%). Against the pedestrian Canadiens and porous Jets, Edmonton can cover its holes. But fans anxiously await the playoffs to see if this team can legitimize itself.
Canucks: So You’re Saying There’s A Chance?
In spite of COVID and having the ninth-worst point percent in the league, the Vancouver Canucks can still make the playoffs. Wait, what? Vancouver is 14 points short of Montreal for the fourth playoff spot. But they have five games in hand and 11 games remaining.
Montreal can’t go better than .500 in its remaining six games while Vancouver needs to score 21 points, a ridiculous 10-0-1 record to close the year. It’s next to impossible, but it just shows the level of competition the Canucks are facing within the division.
Vancouver has lost four straight and five of its last six games. But its remaining 11 games are against Edmonton, Calgary, and Winnipeg. They’re all beatable.
A lot of this hinges on G Thatcher Demko. His run in March just before the quarantine was elite as he went 8-3-0 with a 93.7 save percent (SV%). This included wins over Toronto (twice) and Edmonton. If Demko can recapture this form, the Canucks may just make Montreal sweat.
This is a tricky game for the Oilers. On one hand, they’ve edged the Canucks in most of their games this season. They managed to shut out Vancouver in what would be one of Smith’s best performances and his presence is why the Oilers are steep favorites here.
But the Canucks have actually outplayed the Oilers in several of these contests. They just couldn’t stop McDavid entirely (which team can?) But they at least limited him to just four points in three games at the Rogers Arena.
Demko, despite only having won one game against Edmonton, has played well against them. He’s only allowed three goals in 65 shots in his last two starts against Edmonton. Furthermore, both teams have scored the same amount of even-strength goals.
The difference comes down to the special teams. If Vancouver can stay out of the box and keep this even, they’ve got a good shot at upsetting the Oilers. At these NHL odds, it’s worth a shot.