Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:30 AM EST.
Montreal -½ +180 over BUFFALO
7:05 PM EST. Regulation only. We would much rather gamble on a regulation win at this price than an OT flip of the coin at a much lower price. From time to time, we’re going to lose these bets because we’re not including OT but the increase in the takeback will more than make up for it over an entire season. We’re not going to play regulation every single time but we will many times in these evenly priced games and this is another one where value dictates the play. Of course the Habs can win in regulation.
In fact, Montreal has played arguably two of the top five teams in the NHL already and picked up three out of a possible four points. They lost to Carolina in OT after leading that game most of the way and subsequently came from 4-1 down to beat the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Saturday. The Habs are another one of these teams whose projections or expectations were low coming into the season and they have responded with a chip on their shoulder. Almost every publication had Montreal as a fringe playoff team because of their lack of scoring but we’re not so sure.
Montreal was a monster puck-possession team last year. Gerard Gallant, the coach of the Golden Knights, last season called Montreal, “the best team he’s seen” and that was about halfway through the season. The reason the Habs missed the playoffs was because their power-play was firing blanks but PP rankings are like turnovers in football in that they have wild fluctuations from year to year because it’s such a luck driven stat. If all things are equal, Montreal will be scoring a lot on the PP this season. One could reasonably assume the Habs could have found three more standings points to make the playoffs if the PP wasn’t so unlucky. There's some real talent up front here: Max Domi, Tomas Tatar, Brendan Gallagher, Jonathan Drouin (looked great in first two games), Phillip Danault and the under-appreciated trio of Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Artturi Lehkonen and Joel Armia. Carey Price and an improved defense should bring down its goals-against average too. There's a lot to like here, particularly under coach Claude Julien. For now, Montreal is very much undervalued and we’ll play them tonight here and if they lose, tomorrow in Detroit. One win in regulation over Buffalo or Detroit returns some nice profits.
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Montreal -½ +180 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 3.60)