We return Thursday night on a busy evening of NHL contests. We enter the evening 32-19 with our featured selections, and as the games get more and more pivotal, the lines get tighter. That said, we’ve found some value for your bets tonight, and it features a key all-Northeast division match-up.
Montreal Canadiens (-140) @ Buffalo Sabres (+120)
It’s a tale of two teams heading in vastly different directions tonight. The Canadiens have vastly exceeded all expectations set out for them this season, and look poised to secure home-ice in the first round of the playoffs. But there still remains much at stake for the bleu, blanc, et rouge as they do have a legitimate shot at securing the division crown and perhaps first place in the Eastern Conference. Montreal is fresh off a disappointing loss at home to the Capitals on Tuesday evening, and will look to secure a big two points before a crucial game against the Leafs Saturday night.
For the Sabres, though they have been playing a tad better of late, they remain a depleted bunch that off-loaded many of their key players during last week’s trading deadline. Team captain Jason Pominville was shipped away to Minnesota, and Ville Leino and Patrick Kaleta remain injured. This is a pretty dysfunctional group that seems to have thrown in the towel on their post-season chances. Buffalo seems content to drop all of the games remaining in the year, and look to secure as high of a draft pick as possible. They’re a defeated group, with an interim coach, and look for those factors to really show Thursday against a hungry Montreal side.
Montreal is getting healthy just at the right time. Key winger Rene Bourque returned for the Habs Tuesday night, and they can now roll three solid lines that should overwhelm the poor depth and defense of the Sabres. Tonight’s starter Peter Budaj has been stellar this season in a back-up role, and P.K. Subban is in firm contention for the Norris. They’re a red-hot group with a ton to play for, and look for the Habs to capitalize on this tonight. Moreover, there are always a ton of Habs fans who make the trip to Buffalo for these contests, and expect a split crowd to rile up Montreal and further deflate the Sabres.
PICK = Montreal (-140)
Just one additional selection on a busy Thursday night slate. We’ve been just average with these bonus picks, sitting at a 31-27 record on the year, but feel confident with the pick listed below.
Bonus Pick #1: Pittsburgh (-130) Despite the injuries of the Penguins, this remains a far better team than Tampa’s. Though the Bolts have been rejuvenated by bringing in Ben Bishop, the Pens simply have far too much firepower to not secure a victory here. Injuries to Sidney Crosby and James Neal are important, but this group remains focused and disciplined enough to not coast into the post-season. The Pens play exceptionally well on home ice and are well aware of its value as they enter the final stretch of the regular season. Expect Pittsburgh to ensure they secure the necessary amount of points in order to obtain home-ice throughout the post-season. Even with a banged up group, look for the Pens to prevail tonight