We have a small NHL schedule on this Friday night as there are four games on the docket, but I have my eye on a certain North Division tilt on the west coast as it’s the Jets vs. Canucks from Vancouver!
The Jets take a break from some thrilling games with the Edmonton Oilers and shift once province west for just their second matchup of the season with the Vancouver Canucks.
There’s a real chance the Jets’ offense has their way with this Canucks back end. From their standpoint, the Jets rank seventh with 3.44 goals per game on the season, a quality number considering they had just one game with Patrik Laine in the lineup and only two with Pierre-Luc Dubois who hit Injured Reserve this week.
The Jets have also fared well on the man advantage as they sit 13th with a healthy 23.1% clip on the power play this season.
That said, the advanced metrics seem to be telling us that they’re scoring more at 5v5 than they have deserved so far this season. According to Natural Stat Trick, Winnipeg ranks 12th in scoring chances for/60, but also 21st in high-danger chances for/60 and 18th in expected goals for/60 at 5v5 action this season.
Their 2.61 goals for/60 at 5v5 is well above their expected 2.08 mark, so the offense could regress some moving forward.
That said, the blueline remains a concern, and things could go awry if that offense indeed dries up some moving forward.
They currently sit smack-dab in the middle of the pack in share of 15th with 2.81 goals against per game on the season and their penalty kill sits in a share of 14th at a solid 80% mark.
However, the advanced data is not so kind. At 5v5, the Jets rank 30th in scoring chances against/60 and high-danger chances against/60 as well as 29th in expected goals against/60 on the season.
That’s about where they were last season as well as the Jets’ blueline has been decimated in recent years with the departures of Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers and Ben Chiarot.
All that said, their 2.53 goals against/60 at 5v5 is nearly identical to their 2.55 expected mark, so it does appear they’re allowing as much even-strength offense as deserved this season, but they’re still giving up scoring chances with the worst of em’.
There isn’t a back-to-back situation at play here, so conventional wisdom suggests that it will be the heavily-utilized Connor Hellebuyck once again getting the nod in this one, although we don’t have confirmed netminders at the time of this writing.
If it is indeed Hellebuyck, he’ll be making his seventh consecutive start and 14th of the season. He would carry a solid 2.61 GAA and .916 Sv% into action, going 7-5-1 in the process. Hellebuyck was solid in turning aside 35 of 38 shots (.921 Sv%) in his lone meeting with the Canucks this season, but took the 4-1 loss in that one back on January 30.
The reigning Vezina Trophy winner has dominated the Canucks in his career, however, turning in a 1.56 GAA and .949 Sv% in nine career appearances against his Canadian foe.
If backup Laurent Brossoit gets the nod, it would mark his fourth start of the season while he’s posted a 2.98 GAA and .918 Sv% with a 2-1-0 record through his first three.
That said, expect Hellebuyck to take care of both ends of this two-game set with the Canucks with the rematch on Sunday. After Sunday’s contest, the Jets fly home and get a four-day break, so they’ll likely continue to lean on their No. 1 to complete this road trip.
After dropping six straight games, the Canucks appear to have found their footing as they have won two of their last three and gained five of a possible six points in that time.
They’re coming off a convincing 5-1 win over the rival Calgary Flames on Wednesday, covering the spread as their offense has also found another gear.
After averaging 1.83 goals per game during their six-game losing skid, the Canucks have averaged 3.67 goals per game over their last three. They scored 11 goals on their losing streak but also 11 while ending it in three games.
It was a Canucks offense that was due to regress positively, so this was to be expected.
They now rank 15th with 3.05 goals per game on the season, but also sit ninth in scoring chances for/60 and high-danger chances for/60 as well as fifth in expected goals for/60 at 5v5 this season. Their 2.84 goals/60 at 5v5 this season is above their 2.42 expected mark, but it was only a matter of time before this group got going.
Their power play stills its 20th at just 17.1% for the season, but with Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, J.T. Miller, Bo Horvat and Quinn Hughes forming a highly-skilled top unit, that group has another gear to find yet. The Canucks ranked fifth on the man advantage a season ago.
All that said, the offense has been the least of the Canucks’ concerns this season as their defense has fallen flat on its face.
Only the Ottawa Senators have surrendered more goals than the 3.60 per game the Canucks have yielded while their 33.2 shots against per game is tied for the second-most in the league.
The advanced numbers are not any prettier.
At 5v5, the Canucks rank dead last in all of scoring chances against/60, high-danger chances against/60 and expected goals against/60. Their 3.44 actual goals against/60 is well above their 2.69 expected mark, but along with Ottawa this has been the worst defense in the NHL so far this season.
They’ve settled down of late, surrendering just one goal in two of their last three games while they haven’t allowed more than three regulation goals across their last five. Still, the numbers don’t lie.
As noted, we don’t know starting goaltenders for this one yet, and Vancouver has been bouncing back and forth between Braden Holtby and Thatcher Demko all season long.
It was Holtby who earned the win on Wednesday while turning aside 36 of the 37 shots he faced. The first-year Canuck owns a 3.44 GAA and .896 Sv% on the season, however, and has been about as inconsistent as it gets between the pipes.
For his part, Demko last started on Monday, but took the overtime loss to the Flames, allowing four goals on just 27 shots (.852 Sv%). The 25-year-old’s season has also been ripe with inconsistency as he owns a 3.52 GAA and .895 Sv% on the season.
The disaster that has been the Canucks’ back end isn’t the goaltending’s fault given the defense’s penchant for allowing scoring chances, but a 30th-ranked .897 Sv5 at 5v5 between Holtby and Demko certainly isn’t helping matters to be sure.
Jets vs. Canucks NHL Pick
When I saw this matchup the first thing I thought of was a high-scoring game. I knew both defenses gave up plenty of scoring chances, but a second look at the numbers simply increases my confidence that we could see a track meet in this one tonight.
Here we have two of the very worst defenses in the NHL in terms of allowing scoring opportunities, but we also have two capable offenses and the Canucks are rolling at the moment up front after a lengthy, subpar stretch.
I like the fact that we also have a potential push built in with the over/under set at 6. I still would have hit the over had it been 6.5, but the extra security is never a bad thing.
I believe these clubs will trade chances tonight while the offenses will take over and push this one over the total.
As a recent addition to the GamblingSites.org team, James Peralta has been covering everything about casinos, sports, and laws that are specific to online gambling in Canada. James started writing about sports in 2007 during his first year at U of T Mississauga. ...
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