Two streaking teams will meet up on Thursday night when the Anaheim Ducks visit the Montreal Canadiens. It’s a long trip for the Ducks, who prefer the warm weather on the west coast. Instead, they’ll be up on the east coast in low temperatures while playing the role of a road dog on the NHL betting lines.
The Anaheim Ducks Can Win Because…
They’re on fire right now. Although they lost 6-2 in Toronto in their latest outing, they had won seven straight before that. And the Maple Leafs are equally a hot team, so there’s nothing to be ashamed of with that loss.
The Ducks offense is really clicking as they’ve scored 3.50 goals per game this month. When they’re lighting the lamp at that rate, they’re hard to beat. That’s exactly why they’re the top team in the NHL right now.
Montreal is playing well but recall that they had hit the skids prior to this three-game winning streak. They had lost six of seven and had looked lost. Now they’ve beaten a couple of so-so teams at home – especially teams that are either slumping (Vancouver, Carolina) or that don’t play well on the road (Los Angeles). This will be their toughest test on their five-game home stand. Anaheim is the better play here – especially as the underdog on the NHL odds.
The Montreal Canadiens Can Win Because…
This is a tough spot for the Ducks. Yes, they are the best team in the NHL right now but this is also their fourth road game on a five-game trip. They are up in Canada, doing a journey across the Great White North and Thursday’s game will be their fourth in seven nights. They’ve lost their last two matchups in Montreal and could have a tough time with goaltender Carey Price, who is playing really well right now. Price has a 1.33 GAA over his last three games and has been particularly hard to beat at home. He’s 12-3 at the Bell Centre (compared to 5-5 on the road) with a .928 save percentage (compared to .917 on the road). It won’t help matters for the Ducks that they’ll be without superstar Corey Perry.
The Canadiens are one of the league’s better home teams with 12 wins in 16 games, so they’re worth trusting in this spot. Although it looks weird to see the league’s best team as a dog, there’s a reason for it.
The Canadiens are at home in this one, which means they should be able to dictate the style of play. If that’s the case, this matchup comes down to goaltending and it’s hard to trust Fredrik Andersen, who was just pulled in his latest game, over Price. And if it is Andersen again, it’s worth noting that he has an .895 save percentage on the road compared to .926 at home.
Montreal’s home-ice advantage should be the key in this one – especially with the fans charged up as they honor former Canadien great Saku Koivu. Take Montreal as your NHL pick.
NHL Pick: Canadiens -120 at 5Dimes