My latest set of NHL picks came Friday when I went 1-1 with a minuscule 0.02-unit loss, but we’re back today so let’s get back into that win column in a hurry.
Well start with this Canadiens vs. Senators NHL pick in a North Division rivalry contest from Ottawa!
- Season Record: 18-20
- Units: -2.26
Canadiens vs. Senators Betting Odds
- Canadiens (-206)
- Senators (+185)
- Canadiens -1.5 (+115)
- Senators +1.5 (-135)
- Over 6 (+100)
- Under 6 (-110)
Canadiens vs. Senators NHL Pick Breakdown
After coming out of the gate like gangbusters, the Canadiens’ new-look offense has slowed substantially of late.
They are still tied with the Washington Capitals for eighth in the league with a healthy 3.35 goals-per-game average with their 19.2% power play checking in at a share of 18th, but the group has gone ice-cold has some shooting rates throughout the lineup have regressed, as per expected.
Over their last seven games, the Canadiens have scored more than two goals in a game just once and have averaged 1.86 goals per game during that time. They haven’t scored on the power play in five straight games and are just 2 for 26 over their last 10, good for a 7.7% clip. Not good.
That said, while the power play hasn’t been very good in recent seasons, the Canadiens are dominating the underlying metrics at 5v5 this season.
According to Natural Stat Trick, the Habs rank first in scoring chances for/60, second in high-danger chances for/60 and fifth in expected goals for/60 at 5v5 this season. Their 2.88 goals/60 on the season at 5v5 still sits well above their 2.36 expected mark, but this team is generating opportunities with the best of em’ after putting forth similarly dominant advanced metrics last season.
Newcomers Tyler Toffoli and Josh Anderson were white-hot to begin their Canadiens tenures, however both have slowed significantly of late and are likely due for more shooting rate regression with both players hovering around the 19-21% range at the moment.
Still, this is one of the deepest groups the Canadiens have had up front for some time and it’s only going to be a matter of time before they get things figured out and start connecting on their vast amount of opportunities generated.
Like the offense, the Canadiens felt good with their defense heading into the season after the group was bolstered by the acquisition of veteran Joel Edmundson and the NHL debut of top prospect Alexander Romanov, and the results have been solid so far.
They currently sit 12th in the league with 2.71 goals against per game on the season, but their penalty kill hasn’t helped much with a 77.9% mark that sits 20th entering this one.
Like their offense, however, the blueline has put forth some very encouraging underlying metrics so far.
At 5v5, the Habs rank 13th in scoring chances against/60, but also fifth in high-danger chances against/60 and first in expected goals against/60. Their 1.74 goals against/60 at 5v5 this season is essentially in line with their 1.82 expected mark, so this had indeed been one of the top even-strength defenses in the NHL.
Perhaps the group hasn’t been at its best during the team’s recent slide as they have allowed 3.20 goals per game while losing four of their last five, however given the complete lack of offense in that stretch it’s hard to put much blame on the back end.
One player the Canadiens will need to get more from is indeed goaltender Carey Price who is currently enduring another subpar regular season. Should it continue, it would be his third such campaign over his last four seasons.
Price is tonight’s confirmed starter after Jake Allen took Sunday’s overtime loss to the Sens, but Price was certainly not at his best on Saturday against the Maple Leafs, allowing five goals on 27 shots in that 5-3 defeat.
The former MVP owns a 2.87 GAA and .893 Sv% in 10 outings this season, going 5-3-2 in the process. He’s also struggled mightily in the month of February to this point, turning in a 2.83 GAA and .886 Sv% across five starts, posting a 2-3-0 record in that span.
Price has made one start against the Sens this season in which he allowed three goals on just 22 shots in a 3-2 loss back on Feb. 4.
We’ll see if he can get things sorted out in a fine matchup tonight, but the Canadiens will need more from their well-compensated netminder if they are to remain a competitor in the North.
Offense hasn’t been the main issue for this Senators team this season. In fact, if we are to believe in the underlying metrics, this group should be producing far more than they have so far this season.
They’ll enter this one ranked 27th with 2.35 goals per game on the season and 28th with a tiny 11% clip on the power play, but the metrics are quite favorable.
At 5v5, the Sens actually rank fifth in scoring chances for/60, sixth in high-danger chances for/60 and third in expected goals for/60. Their 2.11 goals/60 at 5v5 this season is below their 2.43 expected mark, one of the few teams that has actually scored less than they deserve by comparing those numbers.
After an ugly stretch of low-scoring games from the offense, the Sens have scored at least three goals in three of their last four and have averaged 3.25 goals per game during that time. Of course, their well-documented comeback that saw them pot six goals last Monday against the Leafs has plenty to do with that, but the Sens have also scored three goals in back-to-back games entering this one.
One player to keep an eye on up front is rookie Tim Stuetzle who is seeing plenty of ice time these days and is certainly making a bid for the Calder Trophy with nine points in 17 games despite the team’s general lack of offense this season.
Here is the team’s main concern this season as the defense has predictably been picked on heavily throughout the season.
Ottawa’s 4.00 goals against per game on the season puts them dead last in the NHL and their penalty kill hasn’t done them any favors at 24th with a 74.2% mark on the season as well.
Unlike the offense, the defensive metrics remain among the very worst in the league.
At 5v5, the Senators rank 29th in scoring chances against/60, 28th in high-danger chances against/60 and back to 29th in expected goals against/60. Their 3.58 goals against/60 at 5v5 sits well above their 2.54 expected mark, but it’s extremely clear that this back end has struggled with authority.
There is promise shown now that top defensive prospect Erik Brannstrom is a lineup regular while Artem Zub has played well. Furthermore, the back end will be boosted tonight by the return of No. 1 defender Thomas Chabot who missed the team’s last two games with an upper-body ailment.
They’ve had their games, but also are certainly prone to the blowout, having allowed at least five goals in three of their last six games, but have also held these Canadiens to just two goals in each of their last three meetings.
It’s hard to be successful in this league without goaltending, especially if you give up as many chances as this Senators team does. That said, the Sens just haven’t gotten much in terms of goaltending this season.
A 5v5, the Sens have received a last-ranked .885 Sv% from Matt Murray and Marcus Hogberg, and with Hogberg on the shelf at the moment tonight’s start will go to Murray.
Murray played well in holding the Canadiens to two goals on 32 shots in Sunday’s overtime win, but has been wildly inconsistent with a 3.66 GAA and .883 SV% in 15 games this season and was brutalized by the Maple Leafs in allowing six goals on just 26 shots (.769 Sv%) last Thursday in relief of the injured Hogberg.
While his season has largely been a disaster, Murray has fared far better at home where he’s posted a 2.74 GAA and .911 Sv% at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa across eight appearances despite his 4.86 GAA and .847 Sv% in seven road outings.
Aside from the meltdown in Toronto, Murray has been good in yielding two goals or fewer in six of eight starts in the month of February, so he’ll look to keep up the (mostly) good work of late in this one tonight.
Senators vs. Canadiens NHL Pick
Since coming out of the gate hot and nipping at the heels of the Maple Leafs in the North, the Habs enter this one cold and in need of a turnaround against the most favorable opponent the NHL has to offer.
They’ve also lost two of three to the last-place Senators with all three games ending as one-goal affairs.
That said, I do believe the Canadiens get their revenge in this one after taking that OT loss on Sunday despite tying that one late in the third.
On paper, there’s a massive edge to the Habs here. They have the best expected goals for percentage in the NHL at 56.50% as well as the best actual goals for% at 62.30%. The Sens deserve to have scored more this season, but also rank dead last in goals for% and 22nd in expected goals for%.
You can always state the advanced data and make a case for the Habs to win, and that was certainly the case approaching Sunday’s affair.
I’ll still look for the Habs to win this one tonight, but I’ll look for them to take care of business in regulation time on the 3-way moneyline at -145.