Surprisingly, the Vancouver Canucks still have slight hopes of making the playoffs despite having the worst record in the North Division. But the Edmonton Oilers (32-17-2) should put that to bed as they face the Canucks (19-25-3) for the third straight time on Thursday night.
Edmonton will be even bigger betting favorites this time at -270 while Vancouver is +230. In the previous two meetings, Edmonton was around -200 both times and won by an average of 2½ goals. The puck line for the Oilers at 1½ is -110 as they look to have another dominant decision.
Canucks: On to Next Season
Hats off to the Vancouver Canucks as these guys battled through a lot just to get back on the ice. But with a six-game losing skid and the worst record and goal differential in the division, it’s the curtain call to what has been a tumultuous season.
Vancouver failed to live up to the lofty expectations but it has shown some flashes, particularly with its forward group and goaltender Thatcher Demko. Center Elias Pettersson battled injuries but still managed 21 points in 26 games and a team-best 14.5 on-ice shooting percent (oiSH%).
Right Wing Brock Boeser continues to light the lamp with 19 goals to lead the team. Center Bo Horvat is still a dynamic offensive force and defenseman Quinn Hughes can bounce back. Demko was inconsistent, but in his hot streak just before the quarantine, he looked like a franchise goalie. On to next season.
Oilers: Stay at Two
The Edmonton Oilers clinched a playoff spot with an earlier win against the Canucks and are six points behind Toronto for the top seed in the division. Edmonton has five games remaining (including tonight) and three of those are against Vancouver. But do they want the top spot?
Getting first could mean the Oilers face the Canadiens, a team that has owned them this season. Edmonton is 2-4-1 against Montreal and is -6. That includes that infamous 4-0 beatdown that saw the usually mild-mannered Connor McDavid momentarily turn into Tom Wilson.
Edmonton gets two more shots at Montreal at the Bell Centre before finishing its season against Vancouver. The Oilers are 18-6-2 since losing three straight to Toronto back in early March. The prolific tandem of McDavid and Leon Draisaitl plus Mike Smith’s solid netminding is paying dividends as they look to finish strong.
Pick: Coup De Grâce
The NHL lines have Edmonton as an even bigger favorite to win most likely because it is at home and Vancouver’s injury list keeps growing. The Oilers are 15-10 at the Rogers Place, where they’ve outscored opponents by 13 and outshot them by 30.
Edmonton tends to start a bit slow here, especially on defense where it’s allowed 27 of the 72 goals. The Oilers should be wary of letting Vancouver on the board early as they’re only 5-10-0 when the opponent scores first.
However, Demko has been in a slump for Vancouver and hasn’t won a game since March 19. In his six-game slide, he’s averaged an 86.9 save percentage (SV%). The Canucks’ chronically sloppy play combined with McDavid’s 14 points against is a recipe for another Oilers beatdown.
Pick: Edmonton Oilers -1½ (-110)
Bonus Pick: Oilers Go For More
The early bird gets the worm. That’s the case for both of these teams who do a better job at keeping the pressure than going against it. Edmonton is unbeaten at home when scoring first with a 10-0 record while the Canucks are 6-2-0 on the road when netting the first goal.
Additionally, Vancouver is only 1-11-1 when giving up the first goal. They are 1-12-1 when heading to the second either tied or behind and 0-13-1 when heading to the third. They who score first, win the game.