It’s been a couple days since I last got some NHL picks out as I wanted to take some time to regroup after a tough start to the season.
We have a quieter Saturday schedule than what we’re used to given the postponements around the league, but we still have six games on tap this evening.
Let’s get a hot streak started beginning with this Coyotes vs. Blues NHL pick from the Enterprise Center in St. Louis!
- Season Record: 10-16
- Units: -7.09
Coyotes vs. Blues Betting Odds
- Coyotes (+146)
- Blues (-162)
- Coyotes +1.5 (-178)
- Blues -15 (+158)
- Over 5.5 (+110)
- Under 5.5 (-121)
Coyotes vs. Blues NHL Pick Breakdown
Our last winning pick actually came in this same matchup when the Blues edged the Coyotes by a 4-3 count.
In that piece, I noted that the Coyotes are once again struggling to score goals, but according to the advanced metrics they deserve a whole lot more 5v5 goals than they’ve been getting this season.
Overall, the Coyotes rank 22nd with 2.70 goals per game on the season while their power play sits 16th at a decent 19.4% clip.
However, at 5v5, the Coyotes rank seventh in scoring chances for/60, third in high-danger chances for/60 and second in terms of expected goals for/60, as per Natural Stat Trick. Their 2.13 goals per/60 at 5v5 sits well under their 2.65 expected mark.
It will certainly be interested to see if they can creep towards their lofty peripheral numbers. After all, we’re not exactly talking about the best on-paper offense in the league despite boasting the likes of Phil Kessel and Clayton Keller in the top-six.
There’s been some unsung heroes getting the job done up front such as Conor Garland, Christian Dvorak and Nick Schmaltz. Those are the top three point-getters for the Yotes entering this one, and you could even expect more goals moving forward from Garland considering he’s shooting at just 9.5% on the season with four goals on 42 shots.
After getting shut out in back-to-back games against the Golden Knights and Ducks last week, the Coyotes have scored at least three goals in each of their last three with an average of 3.33 goals per game during that stretch. They’ve won two of their last three in doing so.
It’s difficult to envision this offense being as good as the advanced metrics might suggest, but it appears they are deserving of far more production than they’ve received to this point.
The Coyotes’ calling card over the last couple of seasons has been their impressive defensive numbers. They tied the Columbus Blue Jackets for third overall with 2.61 goals against per game last season, but so far have slipped all the way to 15th so far this season with 2.80 goals against per game.
Their overall results last season out-paced their far weaker peripherals, and perhaps that luck is reversing this season.
Entering this one, the Coyotes rank 25th in terms of scoring chances against/60, 18th in high-danger chances against/60 and 20th in expected goals against/60 at 5v5 this season. Their 2.13 goals against/60 at 5v5 is right in line with their 2.20 expected mark, so it would appear they’re deserving of their defensive fate at even strength, although their seventh-ranked penalty kill (84.2%) has helped them out and moved them into the middle of the pack in overall defense
The blueline is largely the same group the ‘Yotes sported last season, although Oliver Ekman-Larsson remains out of the lineup with Ilya Lyubushkin is thrust into action in his stead.
That said, Ekman-Larsson is not known for his defensive prowess but rather his ability to contribute from the blueline on offense.
For the second straight season, the Coyotes are boasting some mediocre advanced metrics, only this time they haven’t been so fortunate in vastly out-performing them as they did a season ago.
A big reason why the overall defensive numbers more or less line up with the peripherals this season is due to goaltending.
Last season, the trio of Darcy Kuemper, Antti Raanta and Adin Hill combined to post a .929 Sv% at 5v5, the fourth-best mark in the NHL.
It’s largely been Kuemper’s crease this season as he’s made eight of the team’s 10 starts so far, but he hasn’t been as sharp as he was last season, posting a 2.65 GAA and .904 Sv% so far, going just 2-5-1 in the process.
For his part, Raanta has worked to a 3.00 GAA on the season, but also a .922 Sv% that tells us he’s been far better than his GAA would suggest.
Raanta was fantastic in the club’s 4-3 win over the Blues on Thursday, turning aside 40 of 43 Blues shots, good for a .930 Sv%.
Rick Tocchet has yet to name his starting goaltender for this one tonight, but man it’s difficult to see him going back to Kuemper after Raanta largely stole the win for his team two nights back. The Coyotes are a team that needs to ride the hot hand in goal if they are to overcome steep odds and quality for the postseason in the top-heavy West Division.
We’ll see how the situation works out closer to gametime, but make sure to follow me on Twitter (@BKemp17) for updates!
The Blues have put forth some quality offensive numbers so far this season, currently sitting in share of 10th league wide alongside the Colorado Avalanche with 3.45 goals per game on the season.
After finishing third on the power play last season, the Blues’ man advantage has struggled mightily this season, sitting 28th with an 11.1% clip on the season. That’s a fine example of the season-to-season volatility of special teams production in this league as it would appear the Blues have more than enough talent to succeed on the man advantage, but haven’t done so to this point in the season.
It also appears they could be in for regression at 5v5 play as well.
At 5v5 this season, the Blues rank 16th in scoring chances for/60, but also 27th in high-danger chances for/60 and 21st in expected goals for/60. Their 3.42 goals per/60 at 5v5 ranks first in the NHL, yet their 2.05 mark ranks 21st. I would be shocked not to see some 5v5 goal-scoring regression from this club moving forward.
Look no further than their second-ranked 28.57% high-danger shooting rate and 11.98% overall shooting rate, also second league wide, as why they have been able to greatly outscore their peripherals so far. Considering the highest high-danger shooting rate was 22.22% last season and the highest overall rate was 9.71%, we should see regression in those departments as well.
From a personnel standpoint, the Blues have a deep group of forwards as Craig Berube has spread the wealth and created three lines capable of generating offense. Mike Hoffman has been hot of late after a slow start in his new digs and while the likes of Brayden Schenn, David Perron, Ryan O’Reilly and Jaden Schwartz have been their productive selves, the team’s point leader is Jordan Kyrou who has made good on his lofty prospect status this season.
From a personnel standpoint, the Blues are a deep offense, but they have clearly performed over their heads this season.
The results on defense are the complete opposite of what we’ve seen from their offense. While they’ve apparently been lucky to score as much as they have this season — weak power play aside — the Blues’ defense has been the victim of some poor luck in the early going.
We find the Blues all the way down at 22nd in overall defense while allowing 3.18 goals per game. Their 71.1% penalty kill has done them absolutely zero favors so far, but it’s rare to see the Blues sink so low on defense.
That said, they’ve been a stout group at 5v5 despite the tough overall results. They rank sixth in terms of both scoring chances against/60 and high-danger chances against/60 while ranking 12th in expected goals against/60 at 5v5 this season. Their actual 2.24 goals against/60 at 5v5 isn’t outrageously above their 1.99 expected mark, but they’ve certainly been better than their overall results, but the PK clearly needs to step up.
It’s a blueline that saw plenty of turnover in the offseason. Alex Pietrangelo departed for Vegas on the open market and veteran Jay Bouwmeester was forced into retirement after suffering a cardiac episode on the bench in Anaheim last season.
Brought in was power play specialist Torey Krug while Niko Mikkola is currently filling in for the injured Robert Bortuzzo on the team’s bottom pair at the moment.
It hasn’t been the best of starts, however, as this version of the Blues defense has been a suspect group for the first time in a long time.
Not helping the overall cause at the moment is the inconsistent play from netminder Jordan Binnington.
Of course, we all remember how he caught fire as a rookie while helping lead to the team to the 2019 Stanley Cup championship, but he’s performed nowhere near that lofty bar in the early going.
After posting a regular-season save percentage of .927 in that rookie season, he posted a .912 mark in 50 starts last season and owns a .915 mark so far this season. At the end of the day, a 2.63 GAA and .915 Sv% in nine starts isn’t the worst start in the world, but he’s allowed three goals or more in five of nine starts and just one in three of nine starts. He’s also allowed four goals three times in nine starts.
As a result, the inconsistency is clear as the Blues don’t quite know what they’re getting from Binnington on a night-to-night basis anymore.
That said, Binnington isn’t confirmed as tonight’s starter as of yet. I assume he gets it without a back-to-back situation at play here, but I suppose it’s possible Ville Husso could make his third start of the year.
I doubt he does in this spot, however, as he owns a 4.40 GAA and .865 Sv% in his two outings this season, allowing 10 goals on just 74 shots on goal in the process.
Expect Binnington back between the pipes for the finale of this three-game set tonight.
Coyotes vs. Blues NHL Pick
So far, the teams have traded 4-3 wins in this series. That’s been the nature of the NHL this season: one goal games. Betting the favorites on the puckline has been an awfully risky move in the early going, which always makes the 3-way moneyline an option.
I hit that with the Blues in the series opener back on Tuesday, but for this one I’m looking the other way.
I’m not basing this pick on goaltending on the Coyotes’ behalf, but I’d certainly like to see Raanta get his second straight start. If I’m Tocchet, I look at his gargantuan effort on Thursday and simply give him a chance to repeat such work in this one tonight.
Aside from that, the Coyotes hold a special teams advantage both on the power play and penalty kill in this one, and they should see positive goal-scoring regression moving forward while the Blues have scored far too much at 5v5 this season. It’s going to turn around at some point.
I don’t see the Blues holding any sort of goaltending advantage regardless of the starters here, and with the Coyotes winning two of their last three after an inauspicious start to the season, I think they keep rolling in this one.
Give me the steep moneyline underdogs in this one tonight!