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Carolina Hurricanes vs. Montreal Canadiens NHL Picks | Preview

2011 NHL Hockey Free Predictions: Hurricanes vs Canadiens

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Carolina Hurricanes (29-24-9) at Montreal Canadiens (32-23-7)
Date/Time: Saturday, February 26, 2011, 7:00 PM ET
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec
Broadcast: CBC, RDS (HD), FS-CR (HD)
Canes vs. Habs Betting Lines from Bodog.com
Spread: OFF
Moneyline: Hurricanes +130: Canadiens -150
Over/Under: 5.5 goals
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The Carolina Hurricanes and the Montreal Canadiens meet on Saturday in a battle of current playoff teams that have been playing like anything but. Both have struggled in their last 10 games and both are in danger of being caught by teams behind them in the standings. Montreal’s top offensive threat, Mike Cammalleri appears to have his legs back after some time on the injured list while Carolina’s top threat Eric Staal will definitely miss Saturday’s game after sustaining an injury in Friday night’s win over the Penguins.

Carolina’s Friday night win left them three points up on ninth place Buffalo in the Eastern Conference but the win came with a heavy cost –Eric Staal was injured and will miss at least one game. This is a brutal blow to the league’s 10th ranked offense. Newly acquired Cory Stillman will be called upon immediately to contribute in Staal’s absence. He joins Jussi Jokinen who has three goals and an assist in two games, Eric Cole who has one goal and three assists in two games and Jay Harrison who has two goals and an assist in two games.

Cam Ward will likely have to be the difference for the Canes on Saturday but he has struggled over the past couple of weeks. Carolina surprisingly has the league’s 24th ranked defense with Cam Ward allowing an average of 3.0 goals per game. Against Montreal this season, Ward is 0-2-0 with an inflated 4.44 goals against average.

The Montreal Canadiens certainly haven’t been doing themselves any favors in the standings lately. They are 3-5-2 in their last 10 games and have lost three of their last four games. The Canadiens made a move this week to shore up their decimated defense – Brent Sopel will make his debut with the club on Saturday night.

Montreal’s offense has been rather poor all season long – 24th ranked and averaging 2.6 goals per game. Their last two games have been better – Andrei Kostitsyn, Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta all have two points but Tomas Plekanec, Max Pacioretty and Benoit Pouliot only have one point in their last four games. Some consistency would be nice!

Montreal has slipped out of the Top 10 in goals against for the first time this season – 11th ranked and allowing 2.5 goals per game. Carey Price has been worked to the bone and has shown signs of fatigue recently but the good news is that Price is 3-1-0 in his last four starts against Carolina with a 1.97 goals against average.

Betting Prediction: The Carolina Hurricanes are 13-14-6 on the road this season but are 11-3 in their last 14 trips to Montreal. The Canes are just 2-6 in their last eight games overall and 2-8 in their last 10 away from home. The Montreal Canadiens are 19-8-6 at home this season but have lost four of their last five on home ice.

Montreal hasn’t looked all that great – the Western road trip took a lot out of them. They should be settled back into the Eastern Time Zone Mode and should be able to shrug off a humiliating loss at the hands of their hated rivals Toronto. With Carolina’s offensive and motivational leader out of the lineup, Montreal is in a perfect situation to right their ship – Eric Staal is everything to the Canes!

Pick: Montreal Canadiens -150

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