There's a major 4 point swing as the two top teams in the Montreal Canadians (90 points) and the Tampa Bay Lightning (88 points), square off against eachother in this huge game. There still are plenty of games remaining in the season when this one is done, but this is a major opportunity for the winning team. See who we like as our betting pick as the Habs are a -125 betting favorite.
Ice time is set for 7:30 pm ET tonight at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The NHL betting odds list the Canadians as a -125 betting favorite and the total for the game is 5 goals.
In this game, it's offense vs.defense as the Lightning are the top ranked team in the NHL at 3.3 goals per game while the Canadians are the top defensive team in the NHL, allowing a mere 2.2 goals per game. Something has to give and we will find out tonight.
I always list the starting goalies in my articles to determine if there's any confirmation of who will be in net and in a game like this, the goalie position could be the difference in the game. We do have confirmation that Ben Bishop will be in net for the Lightning and Carey Price will be between the pipes for the Habs.
At 32-11-3 with a 2.39 GAA, Bishop has been outstanding, but let's face it, being supported by the best offense in the NHL is a major advantage and Bishop receives the perks. In his last 5 games, Bishop has seen less than 30 shots on goal in each game, but has been up to the task, going 4-1 and only allowing 9 goals.
Carey Price might not see the same amount of goal support, but has been 2nd to none as he carries an eye-popping 1.89 GAA with a 37-13-3 record. This is another 'something has to give" situation as you have the best offensive team facing a goaltender that allows under 2 goals per game.
A lot of pressure is on Montreal's leading point getter as he has to match the Lightning offense. Thus far this season, Pacioretty has had no problem putting the puck in the net with 31 goals and 26 assists. He has a goal and an assist in his last 2 games and one statistic that really stands out is that Pacioretty is a +37 on the season. Expect Pacioretty to see more ice time than he normally would or Carey Price will be peppered with shots from all angles.
Price will receive the support of one of the best offensive defenseman in P.K. Subban. For the season, Subban has 37 assists and is a +15. That said, his focus will be on defense as we should see the puck in Montreal's end of the ice for most of the game. Expect a ton of ice time out of Subban.
An unheralded player to keep an eye on will be winger Ondrej Palat of the Lightning. He's coming off of a 3 assist effort in a win over Dallas and has assisted on 5 goals in his last 3 games. Palat has also faired well against the Canadians with a goal and 2 assists in 2 games this season.
Tampa Bay will also be looking for a big game out of leading goal-getter, Steven Stamkos. For the season, Stamkos leads the Lightning with 36 goals and has 4 goals and 2 assists in his last 5 games. The only thing that's a bit alarming is Stamkos' plus/minus ratio. It's listed at 0. This is quite a surprise as most of the other studs on the team such as Tyler Johnson, have +30 or better.
Lightning leading scorer, Tyler Johnson is on a 6 game point scoring streak. To go along with that, he's scored 2 goals in 2 games against Montreal, If Price plays well, this will be a low scoring game and if he has a poor outing, I expect a very high scoring game. I'm leaning towards the goaltending in this game with my NHL picks, and Carey Price is one if not the best in the business.
NHL Pick- Montreal -125 at 5Dimes