NHL Picks: Injured Canucks Won't Stand A Chance Over Hurricanes

Jason Lake

Wednesday, January 6, 2016 5:40 PM GMT

Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016 5:40 PM GMT

The Carolina Hurricanes and Vancouver Canucks are roughly the same in quality, but only one of these teams has been a profitable NHL pick against the puck line.

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Free NHL Pick: Hurricanes +1.5
Best Line Offered: at The Greek

 

Gather 'round, my friends, and let me tell you a story about a good hockey team that went bad. The Vancouver Canucks were a regular fixture at or near the top of the Western Conference during the Aughts, making it all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2010-11. Then the rails started coming off. Now the Canucks (15-16-9) are playing their worst hockey since Mike Keenan was their head coach. Oh, Vancouver. What happened to you?

The Carolina Hurricanes (16-17-9) aren't doing any better in the Eastern Conference. They've played like hot garbage pretty much ever since they won the Stanley Cup (!) in 2005-06. But low expectations mean the Hurricanes have been very profitable this year against the puck line, earning 6.85 betting units, while the Canucks are deep in the red at –9.10 units. Carolina is priced at +1.5 (–280) on the NHL odd s board for Wednesday's West Coast trip; game time is 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

 

It's Miller Time?
The Hurricanes are the obvious default NHL pick in this situation. The two teams have practically the same record, and nearly the same goal differential – Vancouver's is three goals better at minus-16. The stat gurus at Hockey-Reference value the Canucks slightly higher on the Simple Rating System at –0.39 to Carolina's –0.42. It's pretty much a wash at the halfway point of the regular season.

We can “blame” the betting public for the giant gap in profitability between the two teams. But injuries have also taken their toll on the Canucks. There are six players in sick bay as we go to press, including goaltender Ryan Miller (.909 save percentage), who's missed three games with muscle cramps and is considered questionable for Wednesday. Maybe it's just as well if Jacob Markstrom (.919 SV%) gets the start instead. Many of Vancouver's troubles can be traced to the way goalies Roberto Luongo (now with Florida) and Cory Schneider (now with New Jersey) were ridden out of town on a rail, just like Keenan days of yore.

 

Lack and Load
You can add a third goalie to that graveyard. Eddie Lack (.892 SV%) was very good in his first two years with the Canucks, but they preferred the veteran Miller instead, sending Lack to the Hurricanes this summer for a pair of third-round draft picks. Lack hasn't done well for Carolina thus far; however, Wednesday will be his first chance to start against his former employers. No doubt he'll relish the opportunity.

Between that dynamic and Vancouver's injuries, we think the Hurricanes are in a good spot to continue their profitable ways against the puck line on Wednesday night. Of Vancouver's 15 wins this year, seven were by at least two goals; each of the last five was a one-goal victory, with four of those games ending in a 2-1 final. Pavel Bure isn't skating through that door anytime soon.

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