January 22, 2014 at 3:20 PM #53107
Qbin Missile CrisisKeymaster
Habs Take Show on the Road – Visit Penguins Wednesday Night
The Montreal Canadiens hit the road Wednesday night to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in a building they have had their share of difficulties the last few years. Montreal is 0-3-1 in their last four games at Consol Energy Center and 2-6-1 in their last nine in Pittsburgh while the Pens have won 13 of 14 games at home – a 13 game home win streak was snapped last time out – 5-1 to the Florida Panthers. Montreal will have to exorcise some demons in order to make up some ground on the Eastern Conference leaders but their recent play doesn’t instill a ton of confidence in them doing so.
Montreal (27-17-2-3) at Pittsburgh (34-13-2-0)
When: 7:00 PM ET, Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Where: Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Broadcast: RDS, TSN, ROOT
Habs vs. Penguins Betting Lines from betonline.com
Montreal Canadiens +1½ -190 +162 Ov 5½ +121
Pittsburgh Penguins -1½ +165 -178 Un 5½ -133
The Montreal Canadiens are just 4-4-2 in their last 10 games overall – they have alternated wins and losses in their last eight games and they have won two in a row just once in 18 games – inconsistent to say the least.
Surprisingly, defense and goaltending have been a major issue for this team as of late. Carey Price has struggled in his last three starts, giving up 11 goals while going 1-2-0. He has posted a 4.21 goals-against average in his last four road games despite going 2-1-1, though he did end a three-game losing streak to Pittsburgh by making 29 saves Nov. 23. Price will have to snap out of his funk – it is hard to imagine the Habs being able to keep up with the Pens offensively.
Montreal continues to be an average offensive team – they score 2.51 goals per game and rely on a strong defense more often than not. Max Pacioretty has points in four straight games and five of six, Thomas Plekanec has six points (three goals, three assists) in eight January games and Brian Gionta and Brendan Gallagher each have two points in their last two games. The Habs defense has also been a big part of the offense lately – PK Subban has two points in two games, Andrei Markov has four points in four games and Josh Gorges has three points in three games.
The Pittsburgh Penguins had looked virtually unbeatable on home ice before an uncharacteristic meltdown against the Panthers – they won 13 straight on home ice before that loss. We can blame some rust – it was just Pittsburgh`s second game in eight days and Paul Martin, James Neal and Chuck Kobasew played their first game in a while after spending some time on IR.
Pittsburgh’s offense is as advertised – top tier at this point of the season. Evgeni Malkin has at least one point in six of his past seven games, Matt Niskanen has points in four straight and 12 of his past 14 games (six goals, seven assists), Jussi Jokinen has eight points in seven games and Olli Maatta and Kris Letang have two points in two games.
Sidney Crosby was held pointless in the first meeting of the season – you can bet he will be motivated to avenge that performance Wednesday night.
Marc-Andre Fleury has struggled between the pipes for Pittsburgh. He has a 3.55 GAA in his last five starts. Fleury has given up seven goals in his past two starts against the Canadiens while Pittsburgh has given up four or more goals four times in seven games in the new year. But they have lost just one over that span.
Betting Prediction: A few trends to consider:
• Under is 6-2-4 in MON last 12 vs. Metropolitan.
• MON are 2-6 in their last 8 vs. Eastern Conference.
• Over is 23-10-1 in MON last 34 Wed. games.
• PIT are 41-10 in their last 51 home games.
• PIT are 65-26 in their last 91 overall.
• Over is 12-5 in PIT last 17 Wed. games.
• MON are 2-6 in the last 8 meetings.
Wednesday’s showdown is a matchup between two struggling defenses – neither keeper is playing all that well at this point of the season. The determining factor is Pittsburgh’s recent stellar play on home ice. Their loss against Florida was out of the blue – we will give them a mulligan. As healthy as they have been all season long, I like the Pens to make a statement Wednesday and to continue their recent home domination of the Canadiens. Pittsburgh has a lot to play for – revenge over a loss last time out and over a loss to the Habs in their last meeting.
Pick: Pittsburgh Penguins -178
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.