Jets vs. Canadiens Odds
|Time | TV||Friday, 7 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Thursday night and via PointsBet.|
One night after the sports world was super focused on the NHL and it’s 10-game slate, a considerably lighter night greets hockey fans. The only geographical location where the first part of that sentence may actually ring true is north of the border.
On Friday night, there’s just one game in Canada’s North Division to compete with the NFL Draft’s second and third rounds. Like the 32 gentlemen selected on Thursday night, the Montreal Canadiens are just trying to make sure they get into the first round. Meanwhile, the Jets are all but in, and like Trevor Lawrence, are almost positive where they’re headed in the near future.
The bubble may have finally burst on the Winnipeg Jets. For the last two seasons, the Jets have been playing with fire, and I don’t mean a game with the Calgary Flames.
Grading out as one of the worst teams in the league at even-strength hasn’t mattered to their results. They were able to contend for a playoff spot last season despite being dead last in even-strength Expected Goal Share at 43.57% in 2019-20. That season they gave up almost 250 more High-Danger Chances than they created at 5-on-5, but when the world stood still they were still in the hunt for a wild card spot. This was thanks to their MVP, Vezina Trophy winner, Connor Hellebuyck, carrying them in the crease.
This season it hasn’t been as drastic, but they’re in the bottom five of XG% at 46.16% That slight improvement has helped them move from bubble team to playoff lock. However, while you could make a case that their recent five-game losing streak, all at home, is due to the writing on the wall of an inevitable playoff matchup with the Oilers, I think it’s something else.
In two of the four games he started in just over a week, Hellebuyck didn’t see the third period. He gave up a couple of goals that he’d like to have back and wasn’t able to save the day at an usual rate of High-Danger Chances (HDC) against.
Add that to the offence not being able to convert at their usual high rate, and you have yourself a problem in Winnipeg. The Jets had one game where they created just one HDC, and in their last three games they’re just 1 for 22 on those chances at even strength.
Part of the issue is that Nic Ehlers is now out for the season. He’s one of their handful of talented forwards capable of sustaining a high rate of HDC conversion. Adequate goaltending and average HDC conversion is going to cause the Jets to crash.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
The Montreal Canadiens have the metric recipe, they just don’t know what to do with all the ingredients. According to my “Let’s Do That Hockey” model, as heard on THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast, the Habs started the season with a 19% above-average even-strength rating. This was thanks to keeping opponents’ HDC numbers low, as well as their conversion rate. However, because the wins continued to not match up in a negative way (unlike the reverse for the Jets), they fired head coach Claude Julien.
Since then the Habs have played at only a slightly-better-than-average level at even strength (+2.5%), and naturally the wins haven’t come any easier. Carey Price’s disappointing season has been mired with injuries, and Jake Allen has been forced into a bigger workload than the Habs faithful signed up for.
On offence, Brendan Gallagher and now Jonathan Drouin are missing from the top-six forwards, and it seems like if Tyler Toffoli isn’t scoring, no one is. The Habs know they need to get desperate here in the season’s next week.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Given their diametrically opposite reputation in the NHL analytics community, it was confusing to many anytime the Habs visited Winnipeg this season that the Canadiens would be often favoured.
Now in the stretch run of the season, the Habs are a virtual pick’em at home against the Jets. Both teams’ goaltending has been shaky lately, and both teams are missing key pieces on offense.
Not much has really changed except that the Canadiens have played much worse than they did to start the season. However, even their dip in play to 2.5% above average, is still much better than the Jets’ metrics at the best of times. Considering that, even a number created using Montreal’s latest play makes them a -125 favourite in this game. Therefore, any price shorter than that is a valuable bet on the Habs at home.
Pick: Canadiens (-115 or better)
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