NHL Series Predictions: Penguins vs. Canadiens

Author: Mansi


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In the upcoming round, Penguins will face Canadiens in a best-of-five series starting from August 1. The Penguins were -200 favorites in May, but now they are even bigger favorites. Of all the play-in series, no team has received a shorter price in the NHL odds than the Penguins.

Head-to-Head Results.

In the last three matches, Pittsburgh Penguins have won twice while the Montreal Canadiens have only won once. The goal difference was +1 in favor of the Penguins. That seems close, but you need to remember that Montreal’s 4-1 win came without Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby in the match-day lineup. He makes a big difference because when he played in the games against Montreal this season, he recorded three assists in a 4-1 win.

Crosby Back in Training.

Crosby exited the squad on 18th July for an undisclosed reason, but he was back skating with the team during their first training session in the Toronto bubble on Monday. He had been on ice once a few days prior, and Monday marked his first time since rejoining the team. It's a good sign for the team and its fans.

No Alexander Romanov.

The Canadiens were probably hoping to insert top prospect Alexander Romanov in their lineup to help slow the Penguins’ offense, but the youngster won’t be able to participate in the play-in series. He was signed by Montreal, earlier this month, and started training with the team. But, by signing him now, he won’t be able to play now as his contract will begin in 2020-21. 

Still, they are one of the leagues’ statistical darlings. They have a 50.37 goal percentage at 5-on-5, but again, they are near the top of the NHL in shooting percentage and expected goals’ percentage. In both statistics, they held second.

Can Price Steelseries?

The brightest source of hope for the Montreal Canadiens is their goalie, Carey Price. He can steal this best-of-five series. He has been a rock in the net for Montreal for the past 12 years, which he has played in all 60 of their playoff games. But this year has been challenging for him, he has a .909 save percentage in the league and goal against average is 2.79. He has led NHL goals in total minutes played for the 2nd time in two years. 

But he hasn’t been at his best self against the Penguins, with a 13-14-15 record, .907 save percentage and 2.95 goals-against average. If Montreal picks up the win, the main reason for their success could be Price but banking solely on a goalie who is overworked and facing a team he has met many times without succeeding is not a great strategy and is certainly not recommended.

Offense.

This has been mentioned many times before that for the Penguins to make it back to the playoffs, they would need consistent performances from both Malkin and Sid. Geno delivered, tallying 74 points in 55 games and a +7 rating. The Penguins had a respectable goal-scoring season, considering the players they lost through injury. Of their players who scored at least 10 goals, only three of them have played more than 60 times.

The Montreal Canadiens had some injury worries on the front end as well, but they were not as dangerous as the Penguins’. The Penguins have far more experience in every part of ice both in career numbers and playoff runs. Crosby’s situation is not known as well after it was announced that Crosby is a game-time decision for the exhibition against the Flyers. We already know that the NHL coaches are infamous for disclosing nothing regarding the health status of the team.

Of the 2015 playoff series win Canadiens team, only three players are still with the team; Price, Gallagher, and Petry, where the Canadiens could excel are in having several lines creating more scoring chances than the Penguins.

Conclusion

While this is the shortest price, the avenues to victory for the Pittsburgh Penguins are far more plentiful. They have proved many times that removing a piece of their club, no matter the talent is not enough to break them. The Montreal Canadiens bring a more dynamic and youthful offense and a very talented and experienced goaltender to the series. But it is not really enough. Even though the best-of-five series and the special conditions of this season could lead to an upset, it doesn’t really feel like that the Penguins would lose. They score far more frequently, and that also in fewer attempts. 

Pick: Pittsburgh Penguins(-215)


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