The Montreal Canadiens arrive in Florida for the second game in a short three-game road trip. Their first was a success as the Canadiens dispatched the Islanders, 6-2. Six different Canadiens found the scoreboard, while Carey Price was efficient in net with 20 saves of 22 shots. That wasn’t a heavy workload for Price, so credit the defence for a really strong performance.
They also had a nice 4-3 win in overtime against the Hurricanes prior to that victory. The Canadiens will look to make it a three-game winning streak tonight against a superior opponent. Before beating the Hurricanes and Islanders, the Canadiens were losers in seven of nine games. This inconsistency has put the Habs in a tough spot this season.Some more consistency for the Canadiens and we’re likely talking about a spot in the playoffs.
Wishful thinking in Montreal because that hasn’t been the case. There has been more talk about how Claude Julien getting fired than fans discussing the playoffs. Despite front offices around the NHL trigger happy about canning head coaches, Julien has survived. And unless the Canadiens don’t have a clear path to signing an elite head coach, it’s unlikely that Julien is going anywhere.
The Canadiens have a puncher’s chance of getting into the playoffs. They’re not out of the race yet, but still need to overcome a 7-point deficit to get a wildcard or pass the Maple Leafs for third in the Atlantic Division. The odds are not in their favour, but it’s not impossible. They will have to jump over five teams for a wildcard, and the Panthers and Maple Leafs to get into the playoffs by finishing third in the Atlantic.
A confidence building win against the Lightning would help their plight. Beating the Hurricanes and Islanders is nice, but the Lightning would kick it up a notch. The Lightning are coming off a 2-1 loss against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night at home. Not having Steven Stamkos in that one hurt, as they couldn’t overcome a hot Tuukka Rask and the Bruins. Stamkos will remain out for 6-8 weeks. The Bruins have developed a comfortable lead in the Atlantic Division over the Lightning, with 96 points compared to 87 points. Head below for our free Canadiens vs. Lightning pick.
Montreal Canadiens vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Betting Odds:
Canadiens vs. Lightning Prediction:
The Lightning have played well enough this season to win a division. If they were in the Metropolitan or Pacific, they’d be leading at the moment, and 3 points behind the Blues in the Central. Having to play in the same division as the Bruins is an unlucky break for the Lightning. Not that regular season standings always add up in the playoffs. The Lightning can tell you all about that.
They fell victim to Rask on Wednesday, who was on fire between the pipes. Despite that performance, the Lightning have been able to score the puck at will at home. Overall, the Lightning are 2nd in the NHL with 3.47 goals netted per game. That goes up to 3.85 goals per game when the Lightning are at home. Typically after an offensive performance like they had against the Bruins, they come out hard in their next game. Following a recent 5-2 loss against the Blackhawks at home, the offence responded with a 4-3 win against the Flames.
Tampa has been in a funk of late, though, with losses in five of their last six games. The defence has had some breakdowns, with 3.4 goals against in their previous ten outings. Having said that, the Lightning have allowed 1 goal in two of their last three meetings against the Canadiens, for an average of 2 goals against per contest. The Canadiens have been ice cold against the Lightning in recent memory, as they’re 1-9 in their previous ten meetings.
Also note that Amalie Arena hasn’t been a fun place to go and play at. The Canadiens are 0-5 in their last five trips to Tampa. The Bolts have scored 14 goals in their last three contests versus the Canadiens at home. Vasilevskiy has been impressive against the Canadiens in the past, with a 2.13 GAA and 0.934 save percentage in 13 games.
Tomas Tatar will likely be unavailable on Thursday night, which would be a fairly significant loss. Tatar leads the Canadiens with 61 points, including 22 goals and 39 assists. He left with an upper-body injury against the Islanders and is questionable to play in Tampa. Tatar doesn’t have a superstar name, but to the Canadiens he’s been their most valuable player in 2019-20. Look for the Lightning to respond and edge out the Habs in regulation on Thursday night.