Vancouver Canucks (24-13-9)
The Vancouver Canucks snapped a five-game slide with a 2-1 home win over St. Louis on Friday, but the game was far from their best or convincing, with the last few minutes nerve-wracking for fans and Coach John Tortorella alike. A late attacking surge by the Blues, desperate to equalise, tested the Canucks’ mettle and their ability to close games successfully, which recently has been a huge concern and it very nearly reared its ugly head again. Eddie Lacko, in place of an injured Roberto Luongo, made 30 saves while Zac Dalpe opened the scoring and Santorelli produced the go-ahead goal.
That the Canucks are flush off a victory augurs well as they head into their next clash with the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night but, at the same time, sportsbooks aren’t putting much stock into it at all, which is telling. Betting confidence in the Canucks is low, installed as the decided underdogs at +140 hockey odds at Bet365, a price explained largely by a 0-3 head-to-head record with the Kings this season. That and by being on the road as well where they are 12-7-4 to date.
Good news for the Canucks is the potential return of Roberto Luongo and Alexander Edler, both of whom were reported to have practiced at the weekend and are slated to join the Canucks on their three-game road trip which begins with the Kings and will see them stop in Anaheim and Phoenix.
The Canucks will need a strong performance from Luongo between the posts, if they hope to avoid a fourth straight defeat to the Kings. The Canucks trail the Kings by two points in the Pacific Division standings, tipped at NHL odds of +1200 at Bet365 to win said Division outright (the Kings are listed at +750 to do the same). As well, the Canucks are seventh in the Western Conference right now, winning which is listed at +1100 at Bet365.
Los Angeles Kings (27-14-5)
The Los Angeles Kings will be looking to win a fourth straight against the Canucks this season, a feat that hasn’t happened in 23 years between these two sides in a single season. The Kings beat the Canucks twice in Los Angeles, outscoring them 8-2 combined – a 5-1 victory on November 9th followed by a 3-1 victory on January 4th. Interspersed between those two results was a 3-2 victory in overtime in Vancouver.
Sportsbooks send the Kings into their home date with the Canucks as the solid -160 favourites to win outright, a result of what is certainly a good matchup for them on paper. However, the Kings recent form is worrisome, particularly absent offensive firepower, which seemingly has gone on a walkabout.
Form stands at 3-6-1 in their last ten games. Most recently, they are after a defeat to the Detroit Red Wings at the Staples Centre – a 3-1 defeat on Sunday. Prior to that defeat, the Kings were very convincing in a 5-1 victory over Boston Bruins on Thursday.
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NHL Betting Verdict: With three wins over the Canucks this season the Kings are the correct favourites undoubtedly. Confidence against the Canucks ahead of this game should be high. What’s more, this is a good matchup for the Kings, particularly offensively as they seemingly net goals at will. Therefore, taking the Kings to win outright at -160 is the popular choice for many people's NHL picks.
That said backing the Canucks to the win at +140 holds appeal. After all, this is a must-win game for them in more ways than one if they hope to hold their place inside the playoffs chasing pack. Moreover, Luongo is slated to return to action and that lends some value to their hockey odds for the upset as well they are after a gritty win over the Blues that should send them into this game with confidence. Keep in mind as well that the Kings played last night and therefore the Canucks have the edge on being well rested for this affair.NHL Free Picks: Vancouver Canucks at +140 to win outright; Over 5.0 at +100