A loaded NHL slate of elimination games will take centre stage from both the Toronto and Edmonton hubs this Friday.
One of the most intriguing matchups of the day goes down at 4PM Eastern from Toronto, as the heavily favoured Pittsburgh Penguins will desperately look to stave off elimination against the pesky Montreal Canadiens.
The Pens entered this serious lofty favourites, with many not thinking twice about who’d win. But in hockey, variance is a powerful thing – and in a quick, best-of-5 series, the talented Pens find themselves on the brink of elimination.
In Game 3, Pittsburgh looked to be in complete control, before letting their foot off the pedal. The Habs stormed back to tie the game, before winning it late in the third period. Montreal is a quick team that works hard and plays excellent structure. Pittsburgh is quickly finding that out.
One of the major complaints about a quick, best-of-5 series was that even more randomness can seep into the already wild NHL playoffs. Well, we’ve certainly seen our fair share of that throughout the first week of action. With Pittsburgh entering as one of the major Cup contenders, they need a big-time performance in Game 4 Friday afternoon. Can Crosby and Co. deliver once again? Read on beneath the odds for team news, and our betting breakdown for Game 4 of Montreal vs. Pittsburgh.
Penguins vs. Canadiens Betting Odds:
Pittsburgh Penguins (-155)
Montreal Canadiens (+140)
Over 5.5 (+110)
Under 5.5 (-130)
*Betting odds provided by BetOnline.ag
Penguins vs. Canadiens Pick:
It will be interesting to see if the Penguins can shake off a late collapse from Game 3. In such a quick series, it’s prudent to just erase it and move on – but the opportunities have been there for Pittsburgh to seize control, and the Habs have just kept on clawing.
We’ve been backing the Penguins most of this series and despite being down in the series and them not seeming as mature or intense as Montreal, look for the fact that they’re on the ropes to bring out the absolute best in this Penguins’ core. It remains a talented and veteran-laden squad, and they’ve still been controlling the vast amount of chances and shots created at 5v5.
One storyline to watch entering Friday afternoon’s puck drop will be who starts in goal for Pittsburgh. Matt Murray has been decent this round, but the late stages of Game 3 were not kind to the young netminder. He let in a weak shot from the goal-line from Montreal’s Jeff Petry, and it remains to be seen if he will get a shot at redeeming himself in Game 4. Tristan Jarry is the other option, and he has been mostly better than Murray this past season. If Jarry starts, upgrade the Pens a bit.
There aren’t too many more runs in this core of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin – and they know an early exit to 12th seed Montreal would be one of the major failures of their career. This tandem is too proud for that, and expect to see their best outing in a clinical showing come Friday afternoon. The Pens roll in Game 4, setting up a crucial Game 5 on Sunday.
Pick: Pittsburgh 4-1