No team in the East has been better than the Montreal Canadiens since the All-Star break. Tonight's NHL odds list them as the -135 favorite as they make the journey to face the Ottawa Senators.
The Montreal Canadiens Can Win Because…
They Habs are flat-out balling these days. The Canadiens are coming off a 2-0 shutout win in Detroit, which now means they’ve won five of their last six games (5-0-1). Their only loss in that span was with Dustin Tokarski in net. Goaltender Carey Price is playing lights out hockey right now as he leads the league in save percentage and has allowed more than two goals just once in his last nine games. Much of this team’s success revolves around Price and when he’s unconscious like this, the Habs are hard to beat.
On the flip side, the Sens are struggling these days as they are coming off a demoralizing 6-3 home loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. They’ve now lost five of seven and 12 of 18. They’ve made a conscious effort to give as many starts to 23-year-old goaltender Robin Lehner as possible, which makes sense since they are trying to develop him, but he hasn’t responded well. He has a 3.02 GAA this season and .905 save percentage. At home, that GAA balloons to 3.14. There’s a chance he won’t even make this start as he had to leave Monday’s contest, which means the Sens will have to go with the unproven Andrew Hammond, who has never made an NHL start before.
Montreal is 16-9 against teams with a losing record this season and that number should improve on Tuesday when they face the slumping Sens, with the NHL odds favoring the Habs by -135.
The Ottawa Senators Can Win Because…
They play well at home in this series. The Sens have won six of the last eight home meetings in this series, which should give them some confidence in this spot. And while the Sens are trying to give Lehner as many starts as possible, the truth is it could be a blessing in disguise if he’s out on Wednesday.
There’s no Craig Anderson to fall back on as he’s out with injury too, so the Sens will have to hope Hammond can give them a spark. The truth is that Lehner hasn’t been cutting the mustard, so a switch to anyone might give this team a spark to turn things around.
Although Hammond could provide a catalyst, the truth is that he’s a 27-year-old goaltender who has yet to make a name for himself. This will be just his second career start and given how he performed on Monday, giving up two goals on five shots, he’s probably not going to be in for a good night. The Sens are in a funk and the Habs are on a roll. Since the price is reasonable, I’ll take the Canadiens with my NHL picks in this spot.
NHL Pick: Canadiens -128 at Pinnacle Sports