NHL Picks Today: Rangers at Canadiens Odds, Picks, Live Score
NHL Picks: Habs Fortunate To Face Rangers Backup
The Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers battled in the first round of the playoffs last year, an unlikely scenario given the putrid on-ice product after an eighth of the season has passed. New York defeated the winless Coyotes at home on Thursday to maintain a modicum of self-respect. Montreal continued their mysterious inability to score, getting shut out at home by the Los Angeles Kings.
Montreal needs to stop losing immediately, or risk falling out of the playoff race before Christmas. The Canadiens are already five points out of a playoff spot, in the basement of a top-heavy Atlantic Division.
Despite shutting out the Canadiens early this season, the Rangers will go with their backup instead, which should help the Habs score sufficiently to earn the win. New York has a paper tiger defense, which will allow plenty of opportunities this evening. If Lundqvist was in net, the Rangers would have a chance to survive the upcoming shot barrage. Instead, the Canadiens will be a terrific candidate to beat the puckline.
Historically, the Habs and Rangers have scored six or more goals only three times in their last ten meetings. Bet under on a total of 5.5 goals, with the expectation of a 4-1 or 3-1 final score.
New York Rangers at Montreal Canadiens Preview
The Canadiens have lost four in a row against the New York Rangers, dating back to the first round of the 2017 playoffs. Regular season matchups reveal a different trend: Montreal enjoys a 7-3-0 record against the Rangers over the last ten meetings. These teams have already played once this season, with the Rangers shutting out the Canadiens 2-0 at Madison Square Garden. Montreal swept three regular season meetings last year, before falling apart under playoff pressure. Seems like they haven’t recovered from last year’s early exit.
After ten games, Montreal has the fewest goals in the NHL, averaging less than two per game. Teams can survive extended scoring droughts, but Carey Price has a .887 SV%, a full 33 points below his .920 career average. Absentee goaltending and no scoring created a -20 goal differential, which is the second-worst in the league, next to the lowly Coyotes. He’s been so bad that Montreal fans mock-cheered the 2015 Hart Trophy winner during the Los Angeles debacle.
There’s a silver lining on the horizon that Habs fans should consider before throwing in the towel. Montreal averages 38.4 shots per game, most in the league. The Canadiens also have the lowest shooting percentage, netting only 4.4% of their shots on goal. This shows that bad puck luck exacerbates the team’s problems. If the Canadiens shooting percentage was 7.4% - third worst in the league - the team would have 10 or 11 more goals, enough for an extra couple of wins.
More good news for the Habs: backup Ondrej Pavelec will make his second consecutive start, a baffling decision from coach Vigneault. Lundqvist shut Montreal out earlier in October, stopping 34 shots to snag the Rangers first win this season. Pavelec has a 3.18 GAA and a .898 SV% against the Canadiens at the Bell Centre, winning only six against Montreal in 17 games played.
The Rangers defense has been terrible, relying mostly on the occasional great game from Lundqvist to remain competitive. Montreal will continue their league leading shot production, and Pavelec won’t suddenly enjoy success in the Bell Centre. Expect the Habs to score a bunch this evening while fans pray for a permanent turnaround the rest of the season.
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