It’s Manitoba versus British Columbia on Friday, as the Winnipeg Jets and Vancouver Canucks will face in Vancouver. The Jets (9-6-1) have had an up-and-down stretch as of late, winning four of their last eight, while the Canucks (8-11-1) have won two out of three to recover from a six-game losing streak.
Here are some stats and players to watch for Friday’s game, along with a free pick. This game is a true pick ’em, with both teams sitting at -110 on the moneyline.
By the Numbers
Both of these have similar offensive numbers. Winnipeg is the slight leader with 3.44 goals per game, ranking seventh in the NHL, while Vancouver averages 3.05 goals. However, the Canucks are top-five in total shots, averaging a little under two more than their opponents. But the Jets have the better shooting percentage and a power play that at 23.1 percent is well-within the top half of the league.
Defensively, the Jets have a clearer advantage. While their 2.81 goals allowed and 32.3 shots aren’t elite by any stretch, the Canucks have had several abysmal defensive efforts. Vancouver is second-to-last with 3.6 goals allowed and 11.3 penalty minutes per game while also giving up the third-most shots with 33.2 per game.
Jets Betting Preview
Winnipeg won four of their first five games but came down to Earth since, going 5-5-1 leading up to Friday. There has been a common theme with nearly all of their wins; four or more goals scored in all but one game where they tallied three. Meanwhile, every single one of their losses has come when they score three or less. So tonight’s game being played against a lowly defense will help them reach the four-goal threshold.
The Jets have a great mix of high-end talent but also depth. The team’s leading scorer is Mark Scheifele, who has eight goals with an impressive 14 assists. Underneath him is Nikolaj Ehlers, who has a team-high 10 goals as part of his 18 total points. Kyle Connor and Blake Wheeler have also been good goal-scorers and play-makers, tallying up 16 and 14 points, respectively.
Winnipeg was also hoping to get even better with the blockbuster acquisition of Pierre-Luc Dubois. The star center has played in just two games since being acquired from Columbus, failing to register a point before being place on Injured Reserve. However, Dubois is eligible to return as soon as Friday, so check on his status ahead of puck drop.
In net, Winnipeg relies on the workhorse Connor Hellebuyck and will likely do so again against Vancouver. Hellebuyck has really come into his own over the last couple of seasons, going 7-5-1 with a 2.61 GAA and .915 save percentage.
Canucks Betting Preview
The Canucks probably wish they had a do-over for the first several games of the season. Vancouver began the year just 2-5-0, with all of their losses coming by three or more goals. Then a four-game winning streak, including a 4-1 win over the Jets, helped the Canucks get back to .500. But since that streak, they’re 2-6-1, with a goal-scoring trend similar to Winnipeg as all their wins, but one has come when they score four or more goals.
Vancouver has high-end scoring as well, with two players already hitting the 20-point mark. Brock Boeser is the team’s leading scorer with a whopping 12 goals to go with nine assists, while the reigning-Calder Trophy winner Quinn Hughes has 20 points, with 18 of them coming via assists. J.T. Miller has also been dishing out plenty of apples, as the vet is now up to 12 assists to go four goals, while last year’s playoff dominator Bo Horvat has eight goals and seven helpers.
Although he hasn’t been bad at all, Elias Pettersson being fifth on the team in scoring is something Vancouver would like to change. The third-year player entered this season with back-to-back 66-point campaigns, obviously on pace for more last year before COVID paused the season. Pettersson has five goals with nine assists, most of which have come in the month of February, so the Canucks hope he can keep rolling.
Goaltending has been a major disappointment for Vancouver this year, with free-agent signing Braden Holtby falling into a timeshare with Thatcher Demko. Demko has gotten the bulk of the starts and will likely start in net Friday, as the 25-year old is 4-6-1 with a 3.52 GAA and .895 save percentage.
Both of these teams rely on scoring a lot of goals to win, so to me, this game comes down to who can get the most stops. If that’s the case, the advantage clearly should go to Winnipeg. Hellebuyck is the vastly-superior goaltender in this matchup and one who can generally handle all of the shots Vancouver will put on him. I like the defensive core of the Jets a lot more as well, heading into the game. So with the game at a pick’ em, I’m siding with Hellebuyck, Scheifele, and the Jets to win this one on the road.
Pick: Jets -110
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