Our NHL consultant examines the game between Montreal & Winnipeg, and it has huge playoff implications for both teams. Read his betting preview article that culminates with a money line pick.
Battle of Canadian Teams on Thursday in Winnipeg
The Winnipeg Jets will host the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday at 8:05 PM ET. According to the NHL betting odds at BetOnline, Winnipeg is a -127 money line favorite, and the posted total is 5.0. This will be the second meeting of the season between these clubs, and Montreal was a 3-0 winner at home way back on November 11th.
Playoff Outlook for both Teams
The Montreal Canadiens currently lead the Atlantic Division by one point over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and both teams have eight games left to play. The Canadiens also sit atop the Eastern Conference standings with a one point lead over both the Lightning and Rangers. However, the Rangers have two games in hand on both of the other two contenders for the #1 seed in the East.
If the season were to end today, the Winnipeg Jets would be in the playoffs virtue of holding down the final wild card spot in the Western Conference. However, they lead the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles by only two points, and the Kings have one game in hand. On a positive note, the Jets play five of their remaining eight games at home, and the the Kings finish the regular season with six of the last nine on the road.
Montreal looks to Backup Goaltender on Thursday
The Montreal Canadiens are slated to go with backup Dustin Tokarski in goal tonight. Tokarski has gone a dismal 0-4 this season in his starts versus Western Conference opponents, and he’s compiled a less than impressive .897 save percentage in those outings. The Canadiens have gone just 5-7 in the last twelve games against the money line. Montreal is coming off a 3-2 loss at Nashville and a 2-0 home win over San Jose in their previous two games. They’ve gone a dismal 6-11 versus the money line this season after scoring two goals or less in each of their previous two games.
Jets in an Urgent Mode
The Winnipeg Jets are coming off a 5-2 loss at Vancouver in their previous game. That defeat put an end to a five game winning streak. Michael Hutchinson was in goal for the loss to the Canucks, and Ondrej Pavalec will get the call this evening. Pavelec has been magnificent in his previous five starts, going 5-0,, and compiling an excellent .969 save percentage in doing so. The Jets have won the last three, and eight of their previous ten games at home.
The goaltending matchup in this game tonight clearly favors Winnipeg. As I alluded to already, Winnipeg has been extremely profitable at home of late. Contrarily, Montreal has gone just 3-5 versus the money line in their last eight on the road. I’m siding with the home team in this contest, and that will be one of my NHL picks on Thursday.
NHL Pick: Winnipeg -127 at BetOnline.