After last night’s thrilling overtime victory with the Winnipeg Jets over the Florida Panthers, we’ll look to continue our winning ways this weekend as the red-hot Montreal Canadiens head to Tampa Bay to do battle with a struggling Lightning squad.
Montreal Canadiens (-110) @ Tampa Bay Lightning (-110)
At the outset of the season, nobody would’ve predicted these two teams to be where they are at the mid-point of this NHL season. The Habs have exceeded everyone’s expectations for them, and look primed for a return to the post-season. They’re incredibly well-organized, well-coached, and possess a ton of team discipline. Going against the Lightning, should prove a solid match-up for the Habs as Tampa has really struggled of late. For all of their offensive punch, the Bolts struggle keeping the puck out of their net. Anders Lindback and Mathieu Garon have both been brutal this season, and they’ll turn to AHLer Cedrick Desjardins to carry the load tonight.
The Lightning are coming off a disappointing outing against the Jets, and have lost six of their past seven contests. Meanwhile, expect Montreal to enter this game no longer in first place in the Eastern Conference. Boston will likely have passed them by the time the Habs take the ice, so look for Montreal to be motivated to regain their coveted top spot. Carey Price was simply stellar in his latest outing against the Hurricanes, and look for the star netminder to bring more of the same Saturday night.
Much of the reason for Montreal’s success this year can be attributed to their great depth. The Habs can roll three lines as well as anybody in the league, and look for fresh legs to overrun a mediocre Lightning defense corps. The Habs will get pucks deep into the Lightning zone, and use their speed and tenacity on the forecheck to create a wealth of opportunities.
Expect another impressive road outing from Montreal. The Lightning may have the scoring to be successful, but their defensive coverage and goaltending will be exploited. The quality of Montreal’s line-up from top to bottom will be overwhelming for a Tampa squad lacking confidence, and look for the Habs to finish the night in their familiar position of looking down on the rest of the Eastern Conference.
PICK = Montreal (-110)
It’s a busy Saturday night slate of NHL action, and there are two games that have caught our attention here at The Sports Geek.
Bonus Pick #1: Pittsburgh (-140) While the price is a tad steep, the Pens are the best team in hockey. After a thrilling comeback victory against the Flyers on Thursday, look for Crosby and company to carry that momentum into Toronto. The Leafs have played well, but will be no match for Pittsburgh. Marc-Andre Fleury returns to the net and he will rebound after a couple of shaky starts. The speed and skill of both Crosby and Malkin’s lines will severely test the Leafs’ defense, and look for Pittsburgh to emerge with a comfortable victory on Hockey Night in Canada.
Bonus Pick #2: Dallas (+110) Many people have been surprised by the play of the Stars this season, but their depth and goaltending have them battling for a playoff spot. This is a team that’s better than most give them credit for, and look for Dallas to defeat a mediocre Coyotes squad without Radim Vrbata. Kari Lehtonen has been amazing in goal for Dallas, and this team doesn’t give up many opportunities. Take the Stars in a low-scoring affair.