Normally this time of year, Canucks fans are already searching for the button that fast-forwards us to playoff time. This season, however, is different. With so many unknown variables, this year of Canucks hockey has the potential to be a doozy – either a memorable tale of overcoming adversity, or just a train wreck.
How will the players adjust to John Tortorella, a new coach with a completely different style and expectations? Is this group of players as “stiff” as management wants them to be in a strong new division? Will Luongo’s heart be with the team this year, or does he hold a grudge?
A lot of sports writers will claim to be able to dissect and analyze all of this and attempt to make a prediction. Me? I’m not going to go down that road. Instead, I’m bringing in a ringer.
I’ve managed to get in touch with a linesmaker – someone who determines the odds at one of the many online sports betting providers out there. He’s used to predicting the unpredictable; his job depends on it. His methods are mysterious, and he’s even asked to remain anonymous, but he’s put together some odds on different elements of the Canucks’ season to help enlighten us.
I’m not a betting man, but basically the bigger the odds for any given outcome, the less likely it is to happen (hence why it pays more). Let’s get down to business, starting with the big one.
For some comparison, the Blackhawks are favourites at 6/1, the hated Bruins are 10/1, the Kings and Blues are 12/1, and the Sharks and Leafs are 18/1 (Better than the Sharks? Maybe we should beat them once or twice this year). The Flames are 100/1.
Last year, at the start of the shortened season, the Canucks were 9/1, so while it’s looking like we’ve been downgraded a sizeable amount, it should be noted that three years ago at the start of the season Vancouver went to the finals, they were also listed at 16/1. Perhaps it’s the luck of the Linden?
The Kings are the only team predicted more likely than Vancouver to take the banner. These numbers get more complicated but the Kings are 8/5 (roughly twice as likely as Vancouver) but the odds have the Sharks at 9/2, Ducks and Oilers at 11/2, Coyotes 16/1 and Flames 30/1. Capturing the divisional banner will be tough, but this is a much less bleak picture for Canucks fans than the doom and gloom that local sports writers have been forecasting, where the Oilers and even Coyotes challenge the Canucks for a top three spot.
This is up only slightly from the actual totals over the last couple of seasons, which averaged 1,034 per full season. A lot of people are expecting a grittier team this year; wouldn’t that mean dozens of more fights? Perhaps, but what people forget is that John Tortorella preaches discipline. So while there may be more fights, there will almost certainly be fewer Henrik Sedin hooking calls. Plus, no Max Lapierre.
Lack is totally unproven as a backup goalie, and Tortorella wasn’t afraid to ride Henrik Lundqvist. This is an Olympic year though, and the Canucks have several games on back-to-back nights.
Luongo knows his contract sucks, but he did bring in a new agent. Kesler and Bieksa are two personalities who could clash with the new coach. The Sedins and Lack are included more for fun than anything, but you never know in a season like this.
Would you bet on any of these? And is there anything else you’d like to see odds on? Over/under on Kes-lurks this season? Which swear word will Torts drop on the media most? We’re taking requests in the comments.
Submitted by Zack Garrison with the linesmaker remaining anonymous.
Image: Rich Lam / Getty Images