Another tough featured selection loser with the Rangers yesterday afternoon, but Sunday’s a new day and with four intriguing games on the slate, we’ll find a winner for you. New York was the better team in yesterday’s game and a missed penalty in the latter stages of that contest really seemed to derail their efforts. They head home down 0-2 in the series and with a stagnant offense, they will be in tough to get back in this one. In other action, the Leafs out-skated and out-hit the Bruins in their most impressive effort of the season. It looks like we could have a series there folks, and it’s been a long time coming for the loyal fans of Leafs Nation
Looking forward to today’s action, it’s a perfect day for NHL hockey as the games are staggered throughout the day in a dream quadruple-header. Our attention will be squarely focused on Game 3 of the heated Canadiens and Senators series. It’s been an intense affair thus far, with name-calling and hard hits from both ends. As the series shifts back to Ottawa it will be intriguing to see whether or not the Sens can take advantage of a depleted Montreal line-up. Read on below for more detailed thoughts.
Montreal Canadiens (+110) @ Ottawa Senators (-130)
Though I felt this would be a tight series to the very end, at the outset I felt the Habs would ultimately prevail. That said, injuries to Lars Eller, Max Paciroetty, and Brian Gionta have changed my tune. The Habs scoring depth looks abysmal on paper and though they survived it for one game on Friday evening, it remains to be seen if they can do that again tonight without the benefit of last change in Ottawa.
The Sens certainly weren’t at their best Friday night, but they should be better at home, a place where they’ve dominated for much of the season. Craig Anderson thrives there and remains one of the best goalies right now in the league. Expect the depth at forward to make a large difference for the Sens, and look for them to wear down a Habs team with many players having to play above their heads. Ottawa was out-skated and out-hit in Game 2, and expect them to respond physically in front of the hometown crowd.
One big point of concern right now for the Senators has to be their mediocre powerplay. A team that loaded with skilled offensive players should not be this bad with the man-advantage, and they should respond. Though they went just 4-for-55 in April on the powerplay, more time with Erik Karlsson manning the points should help.
Expect yet another physical game, filled with minimal scoring chances and tight-checking. Both teams prefer to play defensively, but ultimately expect Carey Price to be out-dueled by Anderson, and look for the Sens scoring depth to outgun a depleted Montreal attack. This will be a long series, 6 or 7 games for sure, but I expect the Sens to come through in Game 3.
PICK = Ottawa (-130)
Two bonus plays, both on totals, that I particularly like for today. Read below for further detailed thoughts. Note: The Pittsburgh/NY Islanders game is an early start at 12:00 P.M. EDT!
Bonus Pick #1: Under 5 (-125) In Montreal/Ottawa – As mentioned before, both Michel Therrien and Paul MacLean adopt defense-first philosophies. The Habs and Sens don’t like giving up many chances, and I expect this game to be no different. Hits will be finished, and chances will be limited. Plus, without the added firepower in the Montreal line-up, I really can’t see Montreal generating too many opportunities on the road. Right now both powerplays aren’t fairing all that well, and as a result I expect a 1-0, or 2-1 game, with both goalies playing exceptionally well.
Bonus Pick #2: Over 5.5 (-120) In Pittsburgh/NY Islanders *EARLY 12:00 P.M. START* – Rush to your sportsbook accounts to play this one. The playoffs return to Long Island and expect the arena to be just rocking. Game 2 told us a lot about this series, mostly that the Islanders can compete, but also that the Penguins still have not shored up their defensive issues from years past. Fleury still looks like a sieve in goal for the Pens and expect the Islanders to at least net two goals in front of a raucous home crowd. That said, Pittsburgh remains in a different league than New York and should ultimately prevail. You can’t keep this team down for long, and their offense will be in fine form come Sunday afternoon. Both teams will get chances, and look for both teams to score. Expect a wide-open affair, with a 4-2 or 4-3 scoreline seeming quite likely.