These are two of the top two teams in the Eastern Conference – and the NHL – so Monday’s matchup will be quite intriguing. The Canadiens are a -130 favorite on the NHL betting.
The Tampa Bay Lightning Can Win Because…
They play very well against the Canadiens – especially Carey Price. While all of his peripheral numbers look good overall, the truth is that you can throw out all of those stats away when he faces Tampa Bay. That’s because the Lightning have managed 12 goals in three meetings with Price this season. His 3.29 GAA against them is his second-worst number against any team and it’s a far cry from his 1.88 this season. For his career against Tampa Bay, Price is just 10-15 with a mediocre .917 save percentage.
The other thing here is that Montreal has been very inconsistent of late. They have won just six of their last 14 games. Their offense has really tapered off in March as they normally average just 2.55 goals per outing, which ranks them 23rd in the NHL. However, this month, they are down to 2.07, which is 27th in the league.
The reason why Tampa Bay thrives in this series is Montreal is defense-oriented but Tampa Bay seems to have Price’s number. That means their offense reigns supreme on Montreal defense, which is why they’ve won four straight meetings.
The Montreal Canadiens Can Win Because…
They’re at home and anyone facing Tampa Bay has an advantage when they’re at home and the Lightning are on the road. On the season, Tampa Bay is just 16-21 in road games compared to 30-9 at home. That’s a huge difference. As a team, they are a completely different animal when they are in the two different venues. At home, they lead the league with 3.41 goals per game and while they still score a healthy 2.95 on the road, that’s still a near half-goal difference. The bigger drop-off is in the play of goaltender Ben Bishop. His goals-against average is 2.66 on the road compared to 2.13 at home and his save percentage is .897 on the road compared to .925 at home.
The Lightning have cooled off of late as they’ve lost two in a row, getting outscored 7-2 in the process, which is why NHL betting odds have listed them as road dogs for this game.They are now just 4-4 in their last eight games and they’ve dropped three of four on the road. Look for Montreal to put forth a strong effort and avoid the season sweep at the hands of Tampa Bay.
The Canadiens are one of the league’s best defensive teams and goaltender Carey Price has the NHL’s best goals-against average at 1.88. However, the Lightning bring in the league’s most prolific offense at 3.18 per game.
Tampa Bay has dominated this series this season, mostly because they match up well and because they’re pissed off that the Habs swept them in the playoffs last year. They’ve won all four meetings and outscored them 16-5 and it’s a good bet to expect more of the same. Take the Lightning with your NHL picks.
Free NHL Pick: Lightning +110 at Bovada