Our NHL analyst provides us with an early preview on the Rangers and Canadiens Eastern Conference first round postseason series. Go inside to read this insightful and informative article that concludes with one of his NHL predictions for the upcoming 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The New York Rangers (47-27-6, 100 points) are locked into the top wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, and have been for quite some time now. As a result, they’ll be the Eastern Conference #7 overall seed.
Montreal (46-25-9, 101 points) fended off the Ottawa Senators, and clinched first place in the Atlantic Division. They’ll be a #2 seed in the Eastern Conference bracket. Despite Montreal having only a 1-point lead over New York at the time of this writing (4/6), they’ll possess home ice advantage due to being a division champion, and in addition to the Rangers wild card status.
These teams met 3 times during regular season action and Montreal won on each occasion. Two of those games were played at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Barring any unforeseen key injuries before the playoffs are set to begin, this has all signs of a series that will go a minimum 6 games. My educated guess on NHL betting odds pertaining to the winner of this series, would be Montreal falling anywhere from a -120 to -125 money line favorite.
Two World Class Goaltenders
Montreal’s Carey Price is 37-19-5 in 61 starts this season with a stellar .924 save percentage, and that includes 3 shutout performances. Price has really rounded into top form down this final stretch of the regular season. During his last 5 starts, Price has gone 4-1 with a .951 save percentage while allowing just a combined 7 goals. Price started all 3 regular season games against New York, and collected a stellar .922 save percentage in those outings.
Although Henrik Lundquist still maintains his reputation as one of the top goaltenders in hockey. However, based on his standards, Lundquist has put together a subpar 2016-2017 regular season campaign. Especially in comparison to his career statistics. Sir Henrik has gone 31-19-4 in 54 starts thus far, posting a less than inspiring 2.74 GAA, and owns a somewhat ordinary .910 save percentage. Lundquist has a 2.32 GAA and .920 save percentage during an NHL career that has encompassed 741 games. Unlike his goaltending adversary in this series, Lundquist has been very shaky during the past couple of weeks.
Final Take and Early Lean
Presently, Montreal has won 8 of their last 9 games. Conversely, the Rangers had gone 3-7 over its previous 10 games. Furthermore, the Rangers hadn’t won 3 games in a row since 2/13.
Obviously in terms of shear momentum, Montreal has a clear advantage in that regard heading into the postseason. Couple that with Carey Price being hot, and Henrik Lundquist recent struggles, the Canadiens also have an edge in goal. I’ll have an early lean on Montreal to win this Stanley Cup Playoffs first round series in 6 games, and one of my NHL picks will be indicative of that prediction.