We hit our second-biggest underdog of the season last night, and while I split my two free NHL picks 1-1, the night still resulted in a solid profit.
I took the New Jersey Devils as +186 home underdogs to end the Blues’ eight-game win streak, and that was indeed the case.
The Devils actually never trailed in this one. They scored the opening goal, and then scored two straight after the Blues tied it to take a 3-1 lead into the third. While a late Jaden Schwartz goal made it a one-goal game, the Devils added an empty-netter and nailed down a huge profit with a 4-2 upset of the streaking Blues.
At about the same time, I had the Red Wings and Blackhawks to play to a high-scoring affair and go over the 6-goal total, but unfortunately that was not the case.
I mentioned in my write-up yesterday that I liked either the Red Wings on the moneyline at +145 or the over, but the over seemed like the safer play given the variety of ways I believed it could happen.
Turns out I should have went with my gut as it was a low-scoring game that saw all three goals scored in the second period in an eventual 2-1 Red Wings upset of the Hawks.
Despite the disappointing split, I still netted a 0.69-unit profit on the night, giving us three straight nights with profitable picks.
Now, let’s keep it going on an NHL schedule that features a bevy of afternoon games, but also six night games as part of a 10-game Saturday schedule!
Season Record: 106-93-1
Now let’s dive into this free NHL pick featuring the Canadiens vs. Panthers from Florida!
Canadiens vs. Panthers Betting Odds
- Canadiens (+131)
- Panthers (-145)
- Canadiens +1.5 (-190)
- Panthers -1.5 (+165)
- Over 6 (-114)
- Under 6 (+103)
Canadiens vs. Panthers NHL Pick Breakdown
Now let’s take a look at each of these clubs before I get into my final pick!
With their playoff hopes all but gone at this point, the Canadiens will look to play out the remainder of a regular season that began with plenty of promise and early-season success.
They managed to take care of a couple of playoff contenders in the Hurricanes and Islanders of late, but dropped a 4-0 decision to the playoff-bound Lightning their last time out.
Now, they’ll look to salvage a split of the state of Florida but will have to get by a desperate Panthers team in order to do so.
The road has certainly been kinder to the Canadiens than their home ice this season in just about every category, however.
The Canadiens enter this tied for fifth with 3.21 goals per game on the road this season while their power play has been even better as it sits second with a 25.6% clip away from home on the season.
The other end of the ice has been cleaner on the road as well.
The Canadiens are tied for 10th with an even 3.00 goals against per game on the road, although their penalty kill slips to 21st with a 77.9% mark.
Both ends of their special teams have struggled of late, however, with their power play going 0 for its last 13 while their penalty kill has posted a 64.3% mark over their last five games.
One area where the Canadiens have been good this season is in the possession game, and while it has yielded much at home, it’s helped on the road.
At 5v5 on the road, the Canadiens rank second with a 53.04% Corsi For%, second with a 52% Scoring Chances For% and also second with a 51.46% High-Danger Chances For%.
They’ve received quality goaltending from Carey Price on the road this season, but tonight’s start will go to backup Charlie Lindgren who figures to see more reps down the stretch in order to ease the league-high workload of Price for conservation purposes.
Lindgren hasn’t seen much NHL action this season as he last started one week ago against the Hurricanes, allowing three goals on 30 shots in the 4-3 OT win.
That was just his fifth NHL appearance this season, however, and he’s gone 2-3-0 with a weak 3.37 GAA and .884 Sv% in the process.
For his NHL career, he’s posted a 3.00 GAA and .907 Sv% in 23 appearances while he worked to a 2.67 GAA but a weak .893 Sv% in 16 AHL games this season with the Laval Rocket.
It’s must-win just about every night for these Panthers as they sit five points back of the Maple Leafs for the third spot in the Atlantic Division, although they do hold two games in hand now.
They’re also four points back of the second Wild Card spot with a game in hand on the Islanders, but with teams to jump in that race the clearest path to the postseason would be to catch the slumping Leafs.
Florida hasn’t exactly been hot themselves, however, as they bring a four-game losing streak into action tonight while winning just once over their last seven games.
They’re play at home hasn’t been great where they have gone just 16-14-4 on the season, but their offense isn’t to blame.
The Panthers sit sixth with 3.41 goals per game at home this season while their power play has slipped to 15th with a decent 21.3% mark on the season.
It’s been the defensive end of the ice where the problems have been this season.
The Panthers rank 29th with 3.35 goals against per game at home this season while their penalty kill has slipped all the way to 26th after a strong start with a 77.4% mark.
Like the Habs, the Panthers haven’t done well with either their power play or penalty kill lately, going 0 for 11 on the man advantage over their last four and just 3 for 5 on the penalty kill over their last two.
Unlike the Canadiens, the Panthers don’t sport the best of possession metrics.
At 5v5 at home, their 50.34% Corsi For% ranks 18th, their 49.93% Scoring Chances For% ranks 21st and their weak 47.79% High-Danger Chances For% ranks all the way down to 29th.
They’ve also failed to get much in terms of goaltending at home with a 23rd-ranked .913 Sv% at 5v5, but with Sergei Bobrovsky sidelined at the moment tonight’s start will go to Chris Driedger who has been excellent this season.
Driedger enters this one sporting a 2.29 GAA and .932 Sv% in his nine starts and 10 appearances on the season and returned from a long-term injury to make 26 saves on 28 shots in a tough-luck 2-1 OT loss to the Bruins at home on Thursday.
Interestingly, Driedger posted an identical 2.29 GAA and .932 Sv% in his 15 AHL games this season, but while that earned him only a 6-9-0 record at that level, he’s 5-2-1 at the NHL level this season.
One thing I didn’t mention in the Canadiens section above was the injuries currently hampering the Habs’ forward group.
They will for sure be without their leading goal-scorer in this one as Tomas Tatar returned home to Montreal after getting injured against the Islanders while both Brendan Gallagher (flu) and Jonathan Drouin (ankle) are both questionable and both didn’t play Thursday in Tampa.
If all three miss this one, it could get ugly for the Canadiens as they would be without their top two offensive players in Tatar and Gallagher and while Drouin has struggled this season his absence creates depth issues as well.
To be blunt, this is a game this slumping Panthers absolutely needs to have.
They’re taking on a non-playoff club that is injured up front and starting their backup goaltender who’s struggled at the NHL level this season.
Meanwhile, the Panthers are healthy and have a goaltender in Driedger who’s performed extremely well wherever he’s played this season.
Their once high-octane offense has struggled of late, but they haven’t defended poorly for the most part and should be able to keep this banged-up Habs offense in check.
I’m going to be aggressive on this one. Those moneyline odds aren’t too bad, but considering the magnitude of this game for Florida and a seemingly huge opportunity to produce offense and defend with the big-time goaltending advantage, I am going to take the home side on the puckline at those attractive +165 odds.