Division leaders that have made a great charge over the course of the last 20 games or so meet in NHL betting action on Thursday night when the St. Louis Blues encounter the Vancouver Canucks at Scottrade Arena.
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The Canucks have to be kicking themselves for letting leads of 2-0, 3-1, and 4-2 get away from them against the lowly Tampa Bay Lightning in the Sunshine State on Tuesday night, though at least they were able to win the shootout. The two visits to the Florida Panthers and the Lightning only yielded two total points, and that just wasn’t what was expected after going into Beantown and beating the seemingly unstoppable Boston Bruins 4-3 over the weekend. The Canucks are still the real deal for sure, but they are starting to show some signs of weakness. They’ll still win the Northwest Division as long as no one else in the division suddenly goes on an unexpected tear, as the rest of the division really is garbage. Men like Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin just don’t exist on the other side of the ice most nights, and when Roberto Luongo is on his game, he is one of the top net minders that the game has to offer. Luongo was just given the night off against the Lightning as well, and that should help put him back on his game and ready to succeed against the Blues.
Last season, the Blues made a huge move at the trade deadline by picking up Chris Stewart. That made them a significantly younger team with a lot of talent out there, and they went out and added to that by bringing in veterans like Jason Arnott and Jamie Langenbrunner this year. Sure, both Arnott and Langenbrunner are probably past the best times in their respective careers, and their scoring totals show just that, but these were the locker room influences that this team really needed. Now, the youngster that the team is building around, David Backes is leading the team in goals and assists this year, and the defense is doing the rest. It is hard to tell whether we are going to see Jaroslav Halak or Brian Elliott in the pipes, but no matter who it is, a great goalie is going to be back there. Halak just logged his second shutout of the season on Tuesday night against the Montreal Canadiens, while Elliott, who was one of the worst goalies in the league last year, has five shutouts and a tremendous 1.62 GAA.
Vancouver Canucks @ St. Louis Blues Pick: St. Louis is playing well, but if you look at its wins of late, none of the four in a row are really against teams that are going to be challenging for a playoff spot. Vancouver gets the job done and gets back on track to finish off this road trip on Thursday night in what should be a gritty one goal game in either direction.
Free Hockey Pick: Vancouver Canucks
Andrew Ryan has been in the sportswriting biz since the late-90s, and he has worked side by side with some of the best and brightest in sports gambling. Always searching for the best trends in sports, Andrew uses his brilliant math mind to his advantage to beat the books.