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Canadiens vs. Islanders Free NHL Pick + 3 Bonus Selections – March 5th

We enter a busy Tuesday evening with a stellar 20-9 record with our featured selections here at The Sports Geek. Things have been going swell thus far, and we’ll look to continue this momentum as we push through the second half of an accelerated NHL season. Tonight’s contest to focus on involves the red-hot Montreal Canadiens, as they travel to Long Island to take on a struggling Islanders squad.

Montreal Canadiens (-125) @ New York Islanders (+105)

While many may perceive this to be a ‘down’ spot for a red-hot Habs team, Montreal is too deep, and too well-coached right now to let points slip away. The Canadiens have been by far the biggest surprise of the 2013 NHL season, and after a huge weekend victory against the hated Boston Bruins, the Habs enter this game riding all the confidence in the world.

Montreal’s best player, Carey Price, wasn’t even the starter in that character victory over the Bruins. Instead, it was back-up netminder Peter Budaj. You can bet Price wasn’t all that happy about that, and when you consider he let in 7 goals his last time out against Pittsburgh, expect a huge bounce-back game from Carey Price in Long Island.

Meanwhile, for the Islanders it seems like another lost season. Though they’ve got a solid top-line in John Tavares, Matt Moulson, and Brad Boyes, depth is not this team’s forte. Add in the fact that star defenceman Lubomir Visnovsky will not be in the line-up tonight, and the Isles may have a tough time generating offense against a stifling Habs team. Montreal plays a solid team defensive game, and clogs up the neutral zone like no other squad. Expect Montreal’s speed to cause problems for a brutal Isles’ defense, and look for their depth to overwhelm New York.

The Habs know the rest of the Eastern Conference is gunning for them, and games against inferior opposition need to be won. Expect Montreal to keep on rolling, and extend their impressive lead atop the conference.

PICK = Montreal (-125)

Bonus selections on the year have only been average of late, but still sit at 17-12 in 2013. Here are a couple of considerations for a busy Tuesday night slate.

Bonus Pick #1: Edmonton (-125) The Oilers have struggled of late, but should bust out of their slump in a big way against a depleted Blue Jackets team. Columbus could be without 4 of their top-6 defensemen, including star defender Jack Johnson. They’re also without key centres Derick Brassard and Brandon Dubinsky. While Edmonton is a team loaded with youth, they’ll realize this a prime opportunity to start their playoff push, and should find a way to pick-up a key two points on the road.

Bonus Pick #2: Tampa Bay (+105) This is a game featuring two teams on pretty horrific losing streaks. The good news? One is guaranteed to end tonight, and bank on it being Tampa Bay’s. Though the Lightning have lost 5 straight contests, they’ve been in every game, and if not for their goaltending, they likely would’ve secured some wins. They are getting healthy with key defenceman Sami Salo returning from injury, and their offense should be able to overwhelm a Devils team that looks lost at the moment. Without Martin Brodeur, New Jersey hasn’t been the same group, and look for the Bolts to take advantage of this.

Bonus Pick #3: Winnipeg (-125) The Jets head down south to Florida in what is a key divisional game. Winnipeg has their sights firmly set on a playoff spot, while the Panthers are more inclined to gun for the #1 overall pick. Florida is as decimated by injuries as any team in the NHL right now, and their on-ice play is really starting to slip. After dropping a pair of contests to Carolina on the weekend, the Panthers slide is only going to get worse. They enter this game without their top centre in Stephen Weiss, top-2 defenceman in Dmitry Kulikov, and number one goaltender in Jose Theodore. Florida is one of the worst teams in hockey right now, and expect Winnipeg to expose them as a result of their deficiencies.