Yes, the Canadiens lost at home to the New York Rangers on Thursday night. Yes, I had the Canadiens winning this series. And you know what? My mind has not changed. The statistics and hockey odds say that New York has a 78% chance of winning the series at this point, being up three games to two. But, that also means that this series price is a nice reward for anyone willing to now take the Montreal NHL pick.
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Why do I believe that the Habs will still win this series? A couple of reasons. First, of the two games previously played in New York, the Canadiens were the better team for probably about 70% of the time. Indeed, the Rangers have not been a very good home team this year and so Montreal’s confidence should be high heading into the Saturday night showdown.
Next, the Canadiens have not allowed a power play goal since March 23rd, while they have started to score on their own power play versus the Rangers. That’s a special teams trend not to be ignored.
Moving on, Montreal got Alexei Emelin back in the lineup for Game 5, and while he was on the ice for the game-winner, he played a relatively solid game, bringing a physical presence his replacements simply did not. That should help to wear down the Rangers forwards in Game 6.
Finally, the Rangers are starting to get contributions from some of their big scorers, while the Canadiens have yet to get a goal from leading scorer Max Pacioretty. If they’re this competitive in the series without Pacioretty hitting the back of the net then they should be fine if he breaks through and scores – which is an eventuality.
So while this isn’t the NHL picks guarantee of the century from me, and you shouldn’t risk the farm, I am still pretty confident in Montreal defeating the Rangers in this series. On we go to Game 6 on Saturday. But first, get your NHL series odds wager in on the current underdog.
Matthew Ross is a sports commentator and a radio host on TSN 690 Radio in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Follow him @MatthewWords.