A key battle in the NHL’s North division will close out a busy Saturday slate of action, as the Winnipeg Jets will play host for the visiting Vancouver Canucks.
It had been a rough start for the Canucks to begin their campaign, but a three-game set against the lowly Ottawa Senators has seemingly reversed their fortunes. Key players have busted slumps, and the Canucks once again seem like contenders in a tightly packed all-Canadian division. It’s believed Thatcher Demko will again get the call in goal for Vancouver.
For Winnipeg, they’re still buzzing over their big swap of Patrik Laine for Pierre-Luc Dubois, though the big French centre still won’t be suiting up just yet for the Jets. He’s reportedly supposed to endure a few more days of quarantine, before he can officially join the squad.
The Jets boast deep and skilled scorers, and are furiously chasing down the likes of Montreal and Toronto atop the division. Connor Hellebuyck has been steady in goal, and given the fact that they come into Saturday night quite well-rested, expect a premium effort from Paul Maurice’s side as they look to close that gap.
One thing is abundantly clear early in the NHL season – these intra-divisional contests have definitely been intense. As both Winnipeg and Vancouver have real post-season aspirations, it should make for quite the contest on Saturday night. Points are already so valuable, and that should produce quite the fascinating affair in Winnipeg.
Vancouver Canucks vs. Winnipeg Jets Betting Odds:
Vancouver Canucks (+115)
@ Winnipeg Jets (-135)
Vancouver Canucks +1.5 (-200)
@ Winnipeg Jets -1.5 (+170)
Over 6.5 (-105)
Under 6.5 (-115)
*Betting odds provided by BetOnline.ag
Vancouver Canucks vs. Winnipeg Jets Pick:
As is evident by the high posted total for this contest, don’t be surprised to see plenty of goals and fireworks on Saturday night. Both teams push regularly for offense, and don’t boast the best defensive structure at the moment.
That’s especially true for the Canucks, who are likely being a tad overpriced by the betting market, as their stats and underlying metrics are quite inflated following three games against cellar-dwellers, Ottawa. Though Vancouver did pull off a three-game sweep, it wasn’t as convincing as you might think. The Canucks were outplayed for long stretches, and had their goaltending not exceeded expectations, two of those games could have gone to the Sens.
Meanwhile, the Jets have faced tougher competition and fared quite well – all without the services of Laine/Dubois for the majority of their campaign. Paul Maurice has this club at 5-2-0, and they are quite likely looking at this matchup against Vancouver as a real opportunity to exert themselves offensively.
The Canucks have a pretty bad defense corps, especially when they’re playing without the puck. Outside of Quinn Hughes, Vancouver lacks puck movers, and are prone to playing long stretches of the game within their own zone. This isn’t a solid team without the puck – anywhere on the ice, and the excellent skill and forward depth of the Jets can be expected to overwhelm Vancouver.
The Jets should feast on that, as they’ve been generating all kinds of offense and scoring chances. Against a forgiving Vancouver defense, and Hellebuyck in goal – a well-rested Winnipeg side should be able to give the Canucks a quick dose of reality in a lopsided Saturday night contest. As short home favourites, the value is firmly with Winnipeg in this North division showdown.