Penguins vs Canadiens NHL Spread/Handicapping
Headline: Eastern Conference Elite Clash Saturday Night – Penguins vs. Canadiens
Two of the top six teams in the NHL standings meet in Montreal Saturday night in what is the marquee matchup on a busy day of NHL action. The Canadiens have been great and have gone nine straight games earning a point (7-0-2).
Pittsburgh Penguins (13-8-0-0) at Montreal Canadiens (13-4-1-2)
When: 7:00 PM ET, Saturday, March 2, 2013
Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec
Broadcast: CBC, RDS, NHLN-US, ROOT
Pens vs. Habs Betting Lines from betonline.com
Pittsburgh Penguins +1½ -285 +109 Ov 5½ +124
Montreal Canadiens -1½ +240 -120 Un 5½ -136
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They may just have caught Pittsburgh at precisely the right time as well – Evgeni Malkin will likely miss his fifth straight game and the Penguins have lost two straight games including a 4-1 defeat at the hands of the woeful Panthers Tuesday night.
The Pittsburgh Penguins really miss Evgeni Malkin – he is skating but will likely take his time getting back to the lineup. The Penguins continue to be an elite offense in the NHL predictably – an average of 3.29 goals per game so far. Sidney Crosby has picked up the slack in Makin’s absence – he has two goals and four assists in his last three games and now has 31 points in 21 games this year.
Unreal! Others are chipping in as well – Paul Martin has three goals and six assists in his last eight games while Chris Kunitz has failed to get at least a point in only five games this season.
The Penguins will bring the offense that much is assured. The question is whether or not they can keep the puck out of their own net!
Pittsburgh is giving up an average of 2.76 goals per game this season – Marc-Andre Fleury has been a disappointment and Thomas Vokoun hasn’t quite been the keeper that they expected. Marc-Andre Fleury has a career .889 save percentage and 3.25 goals against average in 24 starts against Montreal but has gone 3-0-1 record with a 2.38 goals-against average in his last four starts against the Habs.
The Montreal Canadians are on some kind of high – leading the Eastern Conference and playing great defense along the way. The Canadiens are allowing 2.05 goals per game. They’ve limited opponents to two goals or fewer in seven of nine during their current streak. They are coming off an emotional 5-2win at Toronto. Things are good.
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Max Pacioretty has six goals and four assists in his last seven games, and his center David Desharnais has a goal and six assists over the same span for the offense that hadn’t been great before Wednesday’s win. The Canadiens will be without Rene Bourque and Raphael Diaz due concussions but that’s nothing compared to the loss of Malkin!
A few trends to consider:
• PIT are 9-2 in their last 11 Sat. games.
• Over is 7-2-1 in PIT last 10 Sat. games.
• Over is 16-5-1 in PIT last 22 vs. Northeast.
• MON are 7-2 in their last 9 overall.
• MON are 7-2 in their last 9 vs. Eastern Conference.
• Under is 6-2-1 in MON last 9 vs. Atlantic.
Carey Price will likely be the story in his one. The Canadiens have been playing lockdown defense – they haven’t been giving up that much at all. That coupled with Pittsburgh’s defensive woes (10 goals allowed in the last two), I like the Canadiens to carry on the momentum gained in the last game against Toronto. Montreal? Leading the East? You gotta be kidding me!
Pick: Montreal Canadiens -120