The Vancouver Canucks are on the cusp of eliminating the St. Louis Blues in Friday's Game 6, which would mark an abrupt end to the defending champions' Stanley Cup defense.
After losing two straight and allowing the Blues to pull even in the series at 2-2, it seemed like Vancouver lost all its mojo. Against the odds in Game 5, the Canucks came out on top 4-3, finishing the scoring with three unanswered second-period goals.
In abe Insights' betting preview, you'll find a breakdown of the primary betting lines and how wagers should trend, key stats, the best odds available and more for a face-off wherein St. Louis hopes to stay alive.
Date: Friday, August 21
Time: 9:45 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Blues 57%; Canucks 45%
Spread: STL -1.5 (+210); VAN +1.5 (-220)
Moneyline: STL -135; VAN +120
As brilliant as Jake Allen was filling in for Jordan Binnington during St. Louis' previous two wins, he didn't fare well enough during Game 5's second-period flurry to give the Blues the edge. Allen got spotted a 3-1 lead and couldn't close the deal. Now it's a real dilemma as to who guards the crease.
Vancouver got an outstanding performance from Jacob Markstrom in net en route to a Game 5 victory, as he stopped the final 18 shots the Blues attempted, holding on just long enough when St. Louis threatened to notch the equalizer as time expired. Markstrom will need a similarly stellar effort amid Friday's close-out opportunity.
3.88 vs. 3.77: Binnington is 0-4 this postseason, and even during the regular 2019-20 campaign, he was fourth-worst among goalies with at least 24 games played in expected rebounds per save, which is the first percentage here. The second figure is Allen's percentage. Both are worse than Markstrom's 3.71%, per MoneyPuck.com.
.886 vs. .876: Both power plays have been solid, so it may be worth looking into how the goalies fared versus man advantages this season. Allen was better than Markstrom in power play save percentage, which may help him earn the starting nod over Binnington, who logged a .858 PP Sv%.
38.6 vs. 28.2: Where the Blues continue to dominate the Canucks overall, though, is in shot attempts per game during the prior five meetings. Vancouver's blue line needs to fare better in front of Markstrom if the Nucks are meant to finish St. Louis off.
Vancouver's biggest stars in Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller have really come to play during these playoffs, with 11 and 10 points respectively. Forward Bo Horvat leads the club with six goals, and rookie defenseman Quinn Hughes is continuing to step up with eight assists and a power play goal to his credit.
It's been a more balanced, top-heavy and overall less potent attack for the Blues, who didn't do themselves any favors in that regard in losing their first five games back from the NHL's long hiatus.
O'Reilly has led the way with 10 points and nearly had the tying goal at the end of the last one, but he'll need David Perron to come through again after seeing his four-game point streak snapped. Plus, St. Louis' back end failed to protect a multi-goal lead and needs that unit to bounce back, led by captain Alex Pietrangelo.
This series truly has been a story of inches, thin margins and close calls. The Blues nearly forced overtime on Wednesday, but upon review, didn't get the puck across the line in time. Even in Game 3, it took a Jaden Schwartz goal with seven seconds left in the third and an extra period for the 'Notes to avoid a 0-3 deficit
Puck possession hasn't been a problem for St. Louis, and there have been stretches of this best-of-seven where the reigning Cup winners have thoroughly played like the better team. Consistency is the key, and maybe the Blues need their backs against the wall to the ultimate extreme in order to realize their potential this year.
Every time the Canucks have been doubted in this series, it seems like they pull through with a victory. Despite holding the 3-2 series advantage, they're underdogs. These factors make them a compelling bet, but expect the greater share of public wagers to trend toward a Blues moneyline and spread double-down combo.
The 5.5 goal total as of this writing is an NHL betting standard. Three of five meetings in this series have exceeded that total, and with both teams aggressively pursuing a victory, expect more bets on the Over. It's more fun to cheer for added goals anyway!
Note: Odds current as of 1:50 p.m. ET on Friday, August 21.
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