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Canucks vs. Predators series prediction: NHL Playoffs odds, picks



The Vancouver Canucks were dealt a brutal blow in between Games 1 and 2 of their best-of-seven series against the Nashville Predators.

The Canucks, who won the opener, 4-2, announced that goaltender Thatcher Demko would miss some time — perhaps the remainder of Round 1 — with an injury unrelated to the one that caused him to miss considerable time down the stretch.

Vancouver has plenty of star power outside of Demko, but there’s no question that losing the American netminder for more than a few games would put a serious damper on Vancouver’s postseason chances.

As hard as it will be to overcome the loss of Demko, the Canucks did put forward a strong effort in Game 2, a 4-1 loss that evened the series at 1-all.

Vancouver out-attempted Nashville, 64-22, and had a 14-7 edge in high-danger scoring chances at five-on-five but it just couldn’t get enough pucks through the Predators and on goal. Nashville blocked 32 shots on the night.

It’s no guarantee Vancouver will carry that five-on-five effort into Game 3 on the road, but the numbers certainly do paint the Canucks in a decent light in this series through two games.

The Preds were tidy in Game 1, but they’ll need to spend more time with the puck if they’re going to get through this series.

You can’t count on a couple of good bounces and your skaters to block 32 shots every time you step out there.

The good news for the Preds is their regular-season form, particularly down the stretch, suggests they should improve as this series gets into deep water.

No team averaged more expected goals at five-on-five than Nashville did in the last 25 games of the season and only two clubs, Colorado and Edmonton, created more high-danger scoring chances in that span. 

The Preds may not have as many headliners on their roster as some of the elite playoff teams, but they created offense better than just about anybody in the league for a meaningful part of the campaign. 

Quinn Hughes #43 of the Vancouver Canucks defends against Anthony Beauvillier #21 of the Nashville Predators during the second period in Game 2 of the First Round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Arena on April 23, 2024. Getty Images

The Canucks’ defensive numbers were just as good, but they can ill afford any drop in form now that Demko is on the shelf.

Casey DeSmith is a fine backup, but his .896 save percentage and -0.6 Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx) suggest he’s been an average goaltender this season.

Vancouver will likely need more than that from DeSmith, or else you’ll see the Canucks get forced out of their structure and have to engage Nashville in a back-and-forth battle.

That’s not what Vancouver wants, especially with Juuse Saros in the other goal.

Betting on the NHL?

Saros wasn’t up to his normal, all-world standards this season, but the diminutive Finn has as high a ceiling as almost any goaltender in the NHL.

Against Demko, the goaltending battle was a wash. Now, it’s a clear advantage for the Preds. 

Losing Demko doesn’t end Vancouver’s hopes to win this series or go on a run, but it certainly changes the handicap going forward.

The market has obviously adjusted quite a bit since Demko’s absence became public knowledge, but I still think there’s room to back Nashville to get through Vancouver and into Round 2.

Take the Predators (-105, DraftKings) to win the series.

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