NHL Betting Guide: 3/8/21

What a delightful weekend of hockey that was! Over the course of the weekend, the over went 15-8-3, 16-9 (one game closed at a pick'em), and 8 of the 26 games required overtime or a shootout. Barring any postponements, this week will be another busy week with 35 games scheduled between now and Friday night.

Here are a few plays from our daily projections.

Vancouver Canucks vs. Montreal Canadiens

Canucks +1.5 (-188): 4-Star Rating Out of 5
Canucks moneyline (+130): 2-Star Rating Out of 5

It looks like the Vancouver Canucks have finally acknowledged that defensive structure needs to be a part of their game plans. The Canucks, who remain among the worst teams in the league in allowing chances, have held three of their last four opponents to 10 or fewer high-danger chances. There is still room for improvement with shots and scoring chances, but by allowing fewer high-danger chances, the Canucks have seen a decrease in goals against.

The biggest difference has been a decrease in high-danger goals against. Over their last four games, Canucks have held their opponents to an average of 9.0 high-danger opportunities, a noticeable drop from the usual 12.7 opportunities opponents managed in the 24 games prior. Consequently, Vancouver has allowed only four high-danger goals over their last four games. In the 24 games leading up to their 4-game sample, the Canucks had allowed 58 high-danger goals, or 2.4 a game. The defensive structure is working -- expect the Canucks to stay with it.

In terms of high-danger chances, the Montreal Canadiens are heading in the opposite direction of the Canucks since they moved on from Claude Julien. Opponents are averaging 10.8 high-danger chances per game since Dominique Ducharme took over, compared to 9.8 prior to the coaching change.

Monday kicks off a busy schedule for the Habs, who visit three of their four Western Canadian opponents, playing six games in 10 nights, before returning home for a back-to-back set with these same Canucks. When the dust settles, they will have played eight games in 13 nights, in four different arenas. Goaltending usage will be critical over this span.

The Habs have dropped four straight on the road, whereas the Canucks have won consecutive games for the first time since January. Our modeling favors the Canucks tonight, projecting them as 54.5% favorites. As such, there are two plays to make on the Canucks; taking them on the puckline, which is a four-star play, and backing them to win outright, which we rate as a two-star play.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Arizona Coyotes

Coyotes moneyline (+158): 1-Star Rating Out of 5

The Colorado Avalanche managed to take three of four points from the Anaheim Ducks this weekend, but they needed comebacks in both games to secure those points.

The Avs were playing at a 2-0 deficit in both games before forcing overtime in those contests. They were successful in completing the comeback in the first game, winning in overtime, but weren't as fortunate on the second night of the back-to-back. The Avs might be able to play without the lead against the Ducks, who are among the worst teams in the league this season, but coming back from two goals down is hardly a sustainable way of winning games.

It's worth noting that the Avs were without Nathan MacKinnon in both games and they posted six-game lows in scoring and high-danger chances in both games. It's being reported that MacKinnon will miss tonight's game as well, which could lead to more offensive woes.

The Arizona Coyotes continue to take a high percentage of their scoring opportunities from high-danger areas. Over their last seven games, 49.1% of their scoring chances are of the high-danger variety. The quality over quantity approach is working for the Desert Dogs, as they have four wins over the seven-game sample.

Based on our projections, the Avs have a 59.4% chance of winning tonight. The betting market has them overvalued as -188 favorites, which carries a 65.3% implied probability. That leaves an implied advantage in backing the Coyotes, who can make it three wins in their last four games. We rate the Yotes moneyline wager as a one-star play.