The lone game on Monday’s NHL schedule features the Ottawa Senators (1-3-1) and the Vancouver Canucks (2-5-0). Both teams are at the bottom of the North Division standings (Ottawa seventh, Vancouver sixth).
Puck drop is at 10:00 P.M. Eastern. Vancouver is the favorite at (-155) while the Senators check in at (+133).
Ottawa Senators Preview
Ottawa’s slow start to the season was somewhat expected. Finishing only ahead of the Detroit Red Wings in the Eastern Conference last season and holding a +12500 futures line to win the Stanley Cup, we knew the Senators were closer to winning the lottery draft than making it to the playoffs, let alone winning a Cup.
However, we’ve seen flashes this year of what Ottawa is building. They stunned the Maple Leafs with a 5-3 win in the season opener. After that, it was a pair of one-goal losses to Toronto and in overtime against Winnipeg. While their last two losses haven’t been close (4-1 and 6-3, both to the Jets), that’s normal for a team that’s still learning how to win in the NHL. With seven players age 25 or younger in the lineup nightly, one of the youngest teams in the league will go through some growing pains this year.
Trading for Matt Murray at the draft gave the Senators a goaltender to build around over the next several years. While coming off a career worst season, Murray won two Stanley Cups as the starter in Pittsburgh. He is expected to get the start on Monday, and has a 1-2-1 record, a 3.79 GAA, and an .880 save percentage this year.
Vancouver Canucks Preview
Vancouver has been trending upwards the past few seasons, putting together a talented roster around Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, Elias Pettersson, and Quinn Hughes. After advancing to the Second Round of the playoffs last season, expectations were high for the Canucks this season.
Instead, Vancouver is allowing a league-worst 4.71 goals against per game. The next closest team, coincidentally, is their Monday opponent, Ottawa, at 4.00 GA/G.
The Canucks’ offense has been anemic this year, and outside of Horvat and Boeser, only two other players have more than one goal this season. Pettersson took seven games before finding the goal column in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to Montreal. Jake Virtanen also only has one goal so far. For the eighth-highest scoring team a year ago, the lack of production is startling.
Another part of the reason for the poor play has been sloppiness in net. Braden Holtby was signed as a free agent to fill Jacob Markström’s void in the net until Thatcher Demko was ready to become the full-time starter. Holtby is 2-2-0 this year with a 3.70 GAA and an .888 save percentage. Those numbers would be bad for any goalkeeper, but Demko’s numbers have been even worse; Demko has an 0-3-0 record, a 5.47 GAA, and an .866 save percentage.
Holtby is expected to start Monday.
The Pick Is In
Monday’s game is a golden opportunity for the Canucks to get back on track. Take Vancouver to win Monday night, and if you’re considering a player prop, a Pettersson goal is worth a swing at.
Spooky Express Free Pick: Vancouver Canucks (-155).