The Vancouver Canucks welcome the St. Louis Blues for a Monday night date at Rogers Arena. The Blues are sitting comfortably atop the Central Division with a record of 30-11-8 and 68 points. They hold a six point edge on the Avalanche for the top spot in the division. Things in the Central are spread out considerably more than in the Pacific of the Western Conference, where there is only a point between five teams.
The No. 5 team in the Central is 14 points behind the Blues, so there is some separation here, and the Blues are in the best possible scenario. The Canucks are amidst the clumped mess in the Pacific Division. If things remain how they are, it’s going to be a thrilling race in March.
Vancouver are going into tonight with a record of 27-18-4 and 58 points in the Pacific. That’s good for top honours at the All-Star break. Who is going to be first in the division by the end of the regular season is the big question, though. There are four teams behind the Canucks who are all right in their rear-view mirror on the bumper.
The Oilers, Flames, Coyotes, and Golden Knights are tied at 57 points. That leaves the Canucks with little room to breathe atop the division. That said, the Canucks have to be feeling pretty good about where they are right now. They’ve made major strides from a couple of seasons ago, and have to be thrilled to be in a position to compete again. The Canucks finished last season with a record of 35-36-11.
It wasn’t an outlandish prediction to say that the Canucks would be playing this well, though. They’ve been adding young talent throughout the past several years. Playing their cards nicely off the ice in the past is beginning to payoff on the ice now. A nearby rival, the Flames, were able to do the same by stockpiling young talent and having to endure growing pains. The Canucks may be better off now than the Flames, though.
Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, and Quinn Hughes are all under 25 years old. The Canucks should continue to be a threat in the Pacific. However, when contracts are due, retaining all of their talent is going to become an issue. For now, though, it isn’t a mistake that the Canucks are ahead in the division. They face a stiff challenge with the defending Stanley Cup Champs in Vancouver on Monday. Head below for our free Blues vs. Canucks pick.
St. Louis Blues vs. Vancouver Canucks Betting Odds:
Blues vs. Canucks Prediction:
The Canucks are coming off a couple dominant performances leading into the All-Star break. They edged out the Coyotes by a score of 3-1, and then made easy work of the Sharks, 4-1. The play of Jacob Markstrom, who was a late add to the All-Star Game, has come on strong for the Canucks recently. I think when it comes down to the Canucks and the playoffs, the answer may come with Markstrom.
If he continues to play well, then the Canucks are in a perfect spot. Markstrom has a 2.71 GAA and 0.916 save percentage, which isn’t All-Star worthy, but he played because of an absentee, Marc-Andre Fleury. Although, Markstrom looked like an All-Star against the Coyotes and Jets in recent outings. He allowed a goal in each game for a save percentage of 0.958 and 0.971.
As a team the Canucks could improve on their 3.02 goals against per game to have a strong chance of going to the playoffs. Defensively they’re 14th in the NHL, so it’s been an average season on the blueline, despite Hughes playing elite. Markstrom and the defence see improved numbers in Vancouver, where they’ve been much better at Rogers Arena.
He owns a 2.98 GAA and 0.905 save percentage on the road as opposed to a 2.46 GAA and 0.926 save percentage in Vancouver. Naturally, their goals against as a team drops as well. The Canucks have yielded 2.58 goals against at home, which is quite impressive. Even more impressive is their offensive production. From an average of 3.24 goals per game, which is solid to begin with, to 3.67 goals a game. Note that Vancovuer are a red-hot 8-0 at home in their previous eight contests.
The Blues have been a pedestrian club on the road this season. Playing them in St. Louis is dangerous, but they’re beatable with a record of 13-7-4. They’ve been rather vanilla as a visiting club, having scored 3.13 goals per game while allowing 3.08 goals against. Binnington has been well above par, with a 3.24 GAA and 0.898 save percentage in 13 outings on the road. The Blues were outplayed in the first meeting this season, but managed to escape with a 2-1 win in overtime back in November. This should be another competitive game, with the Canucks coming out on top this time around. The value appears to be with the home underdog on Monday night in Vancouver.