Nashville Predators (+116) at Montreal Canadiens (-125, 5.5 o/u)
The Nashville Predators are looking to end the first half of the season as the top team in the Western Conference. A win over the Montreal Canadiens tonight at the Bell Centre (7:30 PM Eastern) would move them one step closer.
The Predators are second in the West with 64 points, two behind the Anaheim Ducks and two above the St. Louis Blues. They have best defense in the NHL, allowing just 2.3 goals against per game, but saw it get destroyed by the Detroit Red Wings in their last outing (5-2).
“They know what they’ve put into it to get to this point. We’ve got to continue to press,” first-year coach Peter Laviolette told the NHL’s official website. “It’s probably going to get harder if anything, so we’ve got to be ready to play. That being said, given the choice to be at the top of standings or at the bottom of the standings, everybody in the room would rather be at the top.”
The Preds may have trouble keeping the goals-against low in the coming days and weeks, as star goalie Pekka Rinne is sidelined with a knee injury. Carter Hutton is taking his place, but he is just 1-4 on the year with a save percentage below .900.
Nashville’s opponent, the Montreal Canadiens, are fourth in the Eastern Conference (behind the NY Islanders, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Detroit Red Wings) with 59 points. They have alternated wins and losses over their last four games, including a 6-4 victory over the Islanders in the last outing.
“We wanted to come back with a big effort,” Canadiens forward Dale Weise said about the win against the Islanders. “We wanted to send a message to the league that this is a tough place to play.”
Trend-wise, the road team has won the last four matchups in this series, and four of the last six games have stayed under the total.
But, with Rinne on the shelf and Max Pacioretty on fire for Montreal, look for this one to hit the over (5.5).
(Photo credit: Sarah Connors [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)