The sports book websites are heating up with NHL betting now that the playoffs are less than two weeks away. Some teams are fighting for their playoff lives, some are just trying to stay healthy until the playoffs and some teams are trying to play the role of spoiler.
In this NHL game preview we look at the Carolina Hurricanes visiting the Montreal Canadiens. The Carolina Hurricanes started the season as a 20 to 1 favorite to win the Stanley Cup. They were solid in goal with Cam Ward, and Rob Brind’Amour was supposed to carry the team to the post-season. Throughout the season Cam Ward was first a disappointment, and then he got hurt. The Hurricanes cannot score goals and they are -29 in the difference between goals for and goals against. Now the Hurricanes are 200 to 1 to win the Cup and it is doubtful they will make the playoffs.
The Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins were supposed to battle it out for the Northeast division as the Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators were left for dead by the hockey world. Then the season actually started and Montreal goaltender Carey Price did not deliver. The Canadiens started the season as 25 to 1 favorites, but their play throughout the season has dropped them to a 40 to 1 bet to win the Stanley Cup.
The Canadiens are fighting with the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers for the sixth, seventh and eighth playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. Only two points separate the teams. It is doubtful that either of those three teams will catch fifth place Ottawa, but they are all looking in their rearview mirrors at the Atlanta Thrashers who are only two points out of a playoff spot and on the move.
It is difficult for a team to be battling for a playoff spot so late in the season because you are not afforded the luxury of being able to evaluate your talent to see who will play in the playoffs and who will sit. The Canadiens seem to still be jumping back and forth between Price and goaltender Jaroslav Halak. While it is expected that Halak will be the playoff starter, he is not getting all of the starts and that has to concern Canadiens fans.
While betters are considering the Final Four odds, the Carolina Hurricanes are trying to play spoiler. The NHL odds are less than 1% that the Hurricanes will make the playoffs, so now they are just playing for pride. Cam Ward is back from his injury but he is rusty and not winning just yet.
The Canadiens have found a focus in the last two weeks winning six of their last ten games. Their scoring has picked up and so has the play of Halak, when he is in net. If the Canadiens sit Price and ride Halak the rest of the way they could very well win out their remaining games. They are playing very well and they are playing with a purpose.
It does not appear as though the Hurricanes have enough to play spoiler against a Montreal team in their own building and focused squarely on the post-season.
Pick: Montreal Canadiens 4-2