As the Montreal Canadiens patiently await the return of Carey Price, the Habs welcome the New Jersey Devils to town tonight. The strong start by the Canadiens has been wiped out during his absence. Reports indicate that Price will be on the shelf for another couple weeks. Mike Condon is doing what he can to shoulder the load in net, but when you lose who is arguably one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, negative results will follow. Through the first few weeks of the season, the Canadiens ripped through the league for nine straight wins. Judging the future by less than ten games is never a good thing. The Canadiens are currently 3-15 over their last eighteen games. We knew that the loss of Carey Price was going to be significant, but to this extent? I don’t think many predicted a 9-0 team to go through a 3-15 stretch only weeks later. The Canadiens hold a 22-15-2 record entering tonight against the Devils. In other words, the Canadiens just have to hold strong before Carey Price makes his return. But is there more to it than just the loss of their starting net-minder? Thanks to the fast start, they still have a whole lot of season in front of them, though.
Mike Cammalleri had to be looking forward to coming back to Montreal to face his former team. However, the Devils have had to deal with some significant injuries as well. Their top goal-scorer, Cammalleri, has missed the last two games for the Devils and will be out again tonight against the Habs due to an upper body injury. The Devils have received a big goal scoring boost thanks to him, but without him in the lineup the roster is lacking in firepower. The Devils lose a 14 goal scorer with Cammalleri. They also lose a guy who has dished out 21 assists this season. Offense has been a major problem for the Canadiens lately, so I will say, all of the blame cannot go on Carey Price being out. Condon is not the scapegoat. Let’s get into the pick below.
New Jersey Devils vs. Montreal Canadiens NHL Pick
Let me get into some facts for some of you Canadien fans, and I know there are a lot. Carey Price can’t score goals. Maybe there is a locker room aspect to it, I don’t deny any of that, but when you aren’t scoring goals the Canadiens are not going to win. The Habs would have had to play in a lot of 1-0 games for them to succeed while Price has been out. Mike Condon is not Carey Price, Condon has a 2.42 GAA to Price’s 2.09 so of course there is a big change there. But, the Canadiens have scored only 1.80 goals per game in their last ten games. Take away the Winter Classic, and the Habs have netted only 1.4 goals in nine games.
The Devils are singing the same song, and without Cammarelli in the lineup it will get worse. The offense looked lost against the Red Wings in their last game. The Devils got 22 shots on net and couldn’t get one by Petr Mrazek. New Jersey has scored more than 3 goals only once in their last ten games. They have averaged only 1.90 goals during that time. However, the Devils, as per usual, played good defense and allowed the same, 1.90 goals per game. Taking the Canadiens at -150 is bad form. Not with the way this offense has been playing. But at the same time, who’s going to score the puck for the Devils without Cammarelli in the lineup? Looks like a game of the lower scoring variety tonight to me. It leads to a play on the UNDER 5.
PICK: UNDER 5 GOALS (-130)