Canucks vs. Oilers NHL Pick – October 13, 2021

The NHL season didn’t exactly start on a positive note for myself and other Lightning backers as the reigning champs failed to show up at all for their matchup with the heavy underdog Pittsburgh Penguins.

While we would have liked to start with a winner, it’s a long season and we’ll get started on redemption with a Canucks vs. Oilers NHL pick from Edmonton!

Canucks vs. Oilers Betting Odds

*Odds courtesy of BetOnline

Teams Moneyline Puck Line Total
Canucks +161 +1.5 (-150) Over 6.5 (-128)
Wake Forest -179 -1.5 (+130) Under 6.5 (+116)

Canucks vs. Oilers NHL Pick Breakdown

Canucks

Offense

The first thing to note when it comes to the Canucks is we should take last year’s results with a grain of salt.

I was bearish on the team to begin with given their suspect back end, but the club was devastated by a late-season COVID outbreak that not only affected plenty of the player personnel, but forced them into a grueling and busy schedule down the stretch that featured a ton of travel in a season that was condensed to begin with. It was an ugly situation.

This offense was also without star center Elias Pettersson for 30 of the team’s 56 games, and the offensive result showed as the Canucks fell all the way to 24th with just 2.61 goals per game last season and the power play hurt as well as they finished 25th at just 17.4% with the man advantage.

Generating chances was a little bit of a struggle as well as the Canucks ranked 21st in both scoring chances for/60 and high-danger chances for/60 at 5v5 while finishing 18th in expected goals for/60. The underlying metrics were slightly better than their surface result, but it was a steep drop from a productive 2019-20 Canucks offense.

The offensive picture has improved, however. Not only is Pettersson back, but the team added a pair of offensive-minded players in both Conor Garland and defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes. The team will also promote top prospect Vasily Podkolzin who could see his role increase as he gets his feet wet in the NHL.

One note for tonight’s contest is Brock Boeser set to miss the opener due to an undisclosed ailment, but don’t be surprised one bit to see a substantial increase in offense this season in Vancouver.

Defense

It was a sketchy-looking blueline in Vancouver to begin with last season, and I’m not sure the picture is improved this time around.

Not only did the Canucks defense rank 26th overall, the underlying data was brutal as they also ranked last in scoring chances against/60, 30th in high-dancer chances against/60 and last again in expected goals against/60 at 5v5, as per Natural Stat Trick.

There’s some turnover on the blueline as Nate Schmidt was traded to the Jets and long-time Canucks defender Alex Edler signed on with the Kings in free agency. Youngster Olli Juolevi was also traded to the Florida Panthers on Sunday.

The Ekman-Larsson addition don’t improve this team defensively. Not only did he post some poor underlying data last season, his -89 rating over the last five seasons is the third-worst number in the entire league. Prospect Jack Rathbone looks to be a part of the top six and Luke Schenn, Tucker Poolman and Brad Hunt were added in the offseason as well as 26-year-old Kyle Burroughs.

It will be tough to be worst than they were last season, but this is a wildly suspect blueline from a defensive standpoint once again this season.

Goaltending

One area where the team should be improved is between the pipes.

Braden Holtby struggled mightily in his first and only season with the team last year, and despite solid work from Thatcher Demko the club would finish 25th with a 5v5 save percentage of .911.

Holtby is now in Dallas, and the club signed veteran Jaroslav Halak as the backup to Demko, but tonight’s nod is going to the latter as he looks to take another step forward after a promising showing a season ago.

Despite playing behind that subpar blueline and facing a ton of rubber with the Canucks ranking 29th with 33.4 shots against per game, Demko turned in a sturdy .915 Sv%, the more accurate individual stat as his subpar 2.85 GAA is more of a team result than a personal one. Additionally, Demko fared quite well in Hockey Reference’s goals saved above average stat (GSAA) with a mark of 8.24 that ranked 10th among goaltenders that played more than 10 games.

Still just 25 years of age, Demko certainly has plenty of upside heading into a season where he’s going to need to be excellent behind this group of defenders.

Oilers

Offense

Scoring goals won’t be a problem in Edmonton this season on the heels of a productive 2020-21 season.

The Oilers finished last season as the league’s seventh-ranked overall offense, but paced the NHL for the second straight season on the power play, this time with a mark of 27.6%.

That’s what you get with the NHL’s best one-two punch in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. It also appears that duo will at least begin the season on the same line while their top offseason addition in Zach Hyman appears to be starting his Oilers tenure on the second line alongside center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Whether the supporting cast can do a better job remains to be seen. The team added the likes of center Derek Ryan (free agency) and left winger Warren Foegele (trade) to the bottom-six mix, and also signed Colton Sceviour and Brendan Perlini after both made the team out of camp. Kyle Turris will need a bounce back season after recording just two goals and five points in 27 games with the club last season.

Keep in mind that not only did the big boys up front do plenty of damage, but defenseman Tyson Barrie led all NHL defenseman with 48 points and was a major cog in the power play with 23 power-play points, good for a second-place tie with Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox among NHL blueliners.

Defense

Like with the Canucks, the Oilers’ biggest question mark resides on the blueline as they too bring a rather uninspiring defense corps to the table.

The team will once again remain without No. 1 defenseman Oscar Klefbom this season as his career remains in limbo with a shoulder issue, but his absence is far from the only notable one.

Adam Larsson parlayed his best NHL season into a handsome free-agent deal with the expansion Seattle Kraken, Ethan Bear was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Foegele trade and Caleb Jones was dealt to the Blackhawks as part of the trade that brought Duncan Keith to Oil Country.

Not only are the departures important, but the additions are exceedingly questionable. Contract aside, the Keith deal was questionable from a performance standpoint. The 38-year-old as been in steady decline for years and is set for healthy, unsheltered minutes as a top-four player in this group. Ken Holland added to his suspect summer but signing Cody Ceci — a bottom-pair defender on most clubs — to a four-year deal worth more than $3M per season. The contract alone will give him top-four minutes himself as no one is paying someone that much money to a fifth or sixth defenseman.

While they ranked 12th overall with 2.75 goals against per game last season, a strong penalty kill (82.5%, 9th) and Mike Smith’s goaltending had plenty to do with that result. From an advanced metrics standpoint, they ranked 23rd in scoring chances against/60, 16th in high-danger chances against/60 and 16th again in expected goals against/60 at 5v5.

Goaltending

As noted, Smith had a very strong 2020-21 season, and a rather surprising one at age 38. As good as he was, Holland decided to pass on many free-agent netminders and re-signed Smith to a two-year deal this summer. He’ll be 40 in March and the list of above-average 40-year-old goaltenders in this league has been very short.

Nonetheless, he’s coming off a 2.31 GAA and .923 Sv% in 32 starts after beginning the season injured. He also posted a 2.95 GAA and .902 Sv% in his first season with the Oilers in 2019-20, so I would suggest some regression to be had.

There could very well be positive regression when it comes to Mikko Koskinen who struggled to a 3.17 GAA and .899 Sv% in 26 appearances. He was playing every game for Edmonton with Smith hurt early, but still struggled in fewer games as the season moved along.

That said, Smith is tonight’s starter and it will be very interesting to see if he can pick up where he left off last season.

Betting Trends

Canucks

  • Canucks are 3-9 in their last 12 road games
  • Canucks are 4-9 in their last 13 games as a road underdog
  • Under is 4-1 in the Canucks’ last five road games
  • Under is 4-1 in the Canucks’ last five games vs. the Pacific Division

Oilers

  • Oilers are 1-5 in their last six games vs. the Pacific Division
  • Oilers are 1-4 in their last five games as a home favorite
  • Under is 8-3-1 in the Oilers’ last 12 home games
  • Under is 8-3-1 in the Oilers’ last 12 games as a home favorite

Head to Head

  • Road team is 4-1 in the last five meetings
  • Canucks are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 games in Edmonton
  • Over is 5-1 in the last six meetings in Edmonton

Canucks vs. Oilers NHL Pick

I expected a high-scoring game in Edmonton tonight, and early-season NHL hockey usually yields plenty of offense. That said, we have a high 6.5-goal total that pays just -128, so I’m not see a lot of value there.

Rather, I like the Canucks to come in and steal on as significant road dogs.

I don’t like either defense (and clearly the books don’t as well), but in a general sense I’m more bullish on Demko than I am Smith, and I do believe this Canucks offense gets back closer to their eighth-ranked result from 2019-20 when their power play was fourth-best in the NHL at 24.2%. There’s just too much talent in the top six.

Not having Boeser tonight doesn’t help, but similar to how they went into Edmonton and won last season’s opener by a 5-3 score, I think they can so something similar to this Oilers back end this evening.

The value here is with the Canucks, so give me the road dogs at an attractive price.

The Bet
CANUCKS
+161
Sub Categories:
Brenton Kemp / Author

Brenton is a lifelong sports fan who resides in Ontario, Canada. Brenton is a fan of most all sports but specializes in hockey, baseball, football, basketball, and golf. He’s a fierce researcher with a strong appetite to deliver accurate and relevant facts that in turn have led to past success with picks and DFS advice across the board. Brenton’s biggest goal is to deliver readers with the picks and advice that can build their bankroll. He takes great pride in his success and loves nothing more than to share that success for the benefit of everyone involved.

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