Free NHL Picks: Canadiens & Red Wings Set Up for High-Scoring

Mark Lathrop

Wednesday, March 23, 2016 9:30 PM UTC

Wednesday, Mar. 23, 2016 9:30 PM UTC

A desperate team in need of a win matches up with a team playing spoiler. Our NHL handicapper analyzes the situation and gives us his best NHL pick on this nationally televised matchup.

In a series that has been split by the home team winning in each of the first two games, the Montreal Canadiens (34-34-6) visit the Detroit Red Wings (36-26-11) in an attempt to break that trend. The Red Wings are favored in this game by a heavy margin, and have moneylines posted from -208 to -220 across the board. The O/U total is listed at 5 on the NHL odds board, but is shading the Over with -140 juice over at 5Dimes. This game will be nationally televised on the NHL Network.

The Red Wings are on the outside looking in for a divisional playoff spot as they sit in 4th place in the Atlantic, 3 points behind the Boston Bruins. They are coming off of a disappointing loss on Tuesday night to the hands of the Atlantic Division leading, Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts won that game 6-2 and it got out of hand pretty early. The starting goalie for the Red Wings, Jimmy Howard, was pulled just after one period of play after giving up 3 goals, then his replacement, Petr Mrazek, also gave up 3 goals in the game. The loss caused the Red Wings to fall to the second wild card slot in the Eastern Conference, although they own the tie breaker over the Philadelphia Flyers.

Petr Mrazek is the usual starting goalie for the Red Wings and has been dealing with an illness for about a week. He should be in the crease for the game against the Canadiens since he played against Tampa Bay, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the illness is still affecting him. Mrazek is 26-15-6 on the year thus far and is giving up 2.24 goals allowed average per game on the season. He plays better at home then on the road, giving up only 2.10 goals at Joe Louis Arena.  

On a popular Montreal Canadiens blog I just saw an article titled, “Dealing with Disappointment: Fan Edition”. Nice of them to do that as I don’t even need to read the article to tell you how the Habs’ season is going. No, the Canadiens’ chances of making the playoffs are relatively nil at this point and they can start to seriously consider dropping a few games for draft position for next year. That is always a concern for the NBA, as teams field a young lineup to get them experience and help in the draft.

So, if the Canadiens win this game it will be for the role of spoiler. But it is possible. Montreal is coming off of a 4-3 win against the Anaheim Ducks that prevented them from clinching a playoff spot. Brawler, Mike Brown, even got a rare goal in the game – his first in over 50 starts.

Ben Scrivens is set to be in the crease and he carries a 5-7-0 record and a 3.07 goals against average. That average goes way up on the road, as Scrivens allows a high 3.71 goals against away from Montreal. The journeyman backup goalie has bounced around a lot in his career, and only has 13 starts this season.


Final Analysis
With Scrivens between the pipes on the road and the Red Wings desperately in need of a win, I like how this game sets up for the Over. The Canadiens also haven’t been in a game that has totaled 5 goals or less dating back to February 22nd – a span of 14 games straight. I’m willing to accept a little juice on this side, but you’ll want to shop around as the line has moved from -115 to -135 in a hurry. Take Over 5 goals at -135 at Pinnacle as one of your Thursday NHL picks

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NHL Pick: Over 5
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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