Panthers vs. Canadiens Pick – NHL March 28th

Two teams here tonight that are going to find themselves in battles in attempt to secure coveted positions. The Canadiens are among the top teams in the NHL, while the Panthers are currently 10th in the Eastern Conference. So a little bit of different circumstances for the Panthers and Canadiens, but regardless, they are both playing for something in the remaining few weeks of the season. The Canadiens are a point behind the New York Rangers for 1st place. 1st place would solidify home ice advantage throughout the playoffs, so they will be playing important hockey for several weeks now. Even more important, though, is making it into the playoffs and thats where the Panthers come into play.

Currently 3 points behind for the final playoff spot, the Panthers will need a big push to finish up the regular season. When all their goalies were dropping like flys a short time ago it seemed like they were going to fall off the playoff map. They are still hanging around, however. There are two ways of looking at that situation. As an optimist you can say what I just said there. Or conversely, you can say if they had Luongo in net healthy the whole time they would be looking at the playoffs in a comfortable position. I always say teams can’t look at the ‘what ifs’ of a season, you’ll drive yourself nuts. I guess that works for sports and life in general. No play stuck out to me last night and I had a dirty taste in my mouth after having to watch Jimmy Howard try and stop a puck the other night. Looks like some goalie controversy going down in Hockeytown at a critical time of the season. I can say for certain there is no goalie controversy with either of our two featured teams tonight.

Florida Panthers @ Montreal Canadiens

The Florida Panthers are basically still playing without a backup goalie, as Al Montoya is still out. The health of Roberto Loungo will be the story for the Panthers for the rest of the season. If he can stay in net then they have a chance at making the playoffs. However, without him the Panthers are just about dead in the water. Luongo is having a fine season with the Panthers, coming back to Florida after many years in Vancouver. Without nearly as much pressure to perform in Florida, Luongo has proved he still has a lot left in the tank. He heads into tonight with a GAA of 2.32 and has essentially made the Panthers a team playing meaningful games in March and April. Overall this season the Panthers are allowing in 2.60 goals a game, but that is pretty much a meaningless stat, as they had to play with scrubs off the street in net for a few weeks. Luongo’s 2.32 GAA is much more indicative of what we’re receiving tonight. And in the Panthers’ last ten games, they’ve allowed just 2 goals per game.

Luongo is having a nice season, but Carey Price for the Canadiens is having a historically nice season. With a GAA of only 1.88, he is best in the NHL, and is having the best year of his career. In fact, Price is having the best season of any goalie in NHL history. The Habs are also 1st in the NHL in goals against, allowing only 2.19 per game overall. In their last ten that number sat at 2.10 goals scored on per game. The UNDER is 18-5-4 in Montreal between the Panthers and Habs. Only one game has gone OVER between them in the last ten games. We look for another low-scoring game tonight and try to cash in on this UNDER trend.