NHL picks: 4 best bets for Canadiens vs Leafs
Our NHL expert has picked out his four best bets as the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night.
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Montreal Canadiens to win
The Canadiens have gone 1-2-1 against the Maple Leafs in four previous contests and Toronto is currently on a four-game winning streak. Jack Campbell has been undefeated this year, and it looks as though he'll be in net against Montreal on Wednesday night. Canadiens backup Jake Allen, who has outplayed starter Carey Price all season, will be getting the start opposite him.
It will be Allen’s first look at Toronto this season. He owns a .922 save percentage in 12 appearances so far this season and will be on about five days rest heading into the game. The Habs are 5-3-4 in his starts so far this season, but I still like their chances a bit better than if Price was starting.
On top of that, the Maple Leafs are returning from a Western Canada road swing and will be playing their fifth game in eight days. Despite their red-hot nature and the threat of Campbell extending his season-long unbeaten streak, I think the schedule helps the Habs a bit more in this one. The value on Montreal given the current circumstances is just a little too intriguing for me to pass on.
Winning margin: Montreal Canadiens by 1
I fully expect this to be a close matchup, but if we’re going to ride the Habs, I can’t see them blowing Toronto out at this point. The value on a one-goal win is pretty solid for me to want to double down a bit on this result.
It’s certainly a buyer beware situation as Montreal is 4-2-9 in one-goal games so far this season. This largely comes down to my belief that Jake Allen could end up being the biggest difference in the game.
In addition to his .922 save percentage this season, Allen has a career mark of 4-2-0 against Toronto with a .921 save percentage. With him in the net and Montreal showing marked improvement in recent weeks under Dominique Ducharme, they’ve got a chance to catch Toronto on short rest and sneak out with a win.
Under 5.5 total goals
Only one of the previous four meetings between these two teams saw five or fewer goals scored, but I think Allen’s presence between the pipes improves the chances of this being a lower-scoring game.
He’s allowed two or fewer goals in half of his starts and allowed more than three only once so far this season. The games he’s played in have been pretty tight. Price, meanwhile, has averaged 3.5 goals against in his four appearances against Toronto.
I fully expect Toronto to own the puck in this one, which should also keep Montreal’s goal totals a bit lower, too. I think this will be a lower-scoring affair as a result.
Josh Anderson to score anytime
In terms of per-game rates, Anderson is having the best season of his career. He has three goals over his last two games and has three goals against Toronto over the four matchups this season. His game matches up pretty well against Toronto as he can overmatch their defense and create some havoc in front of the net.
He should get the minutes to make a substantial impact on the game - he’s played a lot more than his season averages in recent weeks, with more than 18 minutes of ice time in each of the last three games.
We’ll ride the hot hand and see if Anderson can keep up his goal-scoring ways as we continue our run on chasing value with this week’s in-game picks.
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