It is an Original Six matchup in Beantown as the Montreal Canadiens face off against the Boston Bruins on Thursday. It’s time to continue our NHL odds series with a Canadiens-Bruins prediction and pick.
Montreal enters technically still alive for playoff consideration. That could all come crashing down tonight. With a Pittsburgh win and a Montreal loss, they will be eliminated from playoff consideration. The Canadiens are coming off a win over Tampa Bay but had lost nine of 10 before that game. Boston is trying to break a record held by the Canadiens, for the most points in the standings by a team in the regular season. The Bruins have won four straight and been dominant, only allowing three goals, scoring 17, and putting up two shutouts.
Here are the Canadiens-Bruins NHL odds, courtesy of FanDuel
NHL Odds: Canadiens-Bruins Odds
Montreal Canadiens: +1.5 (+140)
Boston Bruins: -1.5 (-170)
Over: 6.5 (-114)
Under: 6.5 (-106)
How To Watch Canadiens vs. Bruins
Stream: NHLPP / ESPN+
Time: 7:00 PM ET/ 4:00 PM PT
*Watch NHL games LIVE with fuboTV (click for a free trial)*
Why The Canadiens Could Cover The Spread
Montreal is not going out on the ice and just getting trounced every night. Yes, they have games like the 9-5 loss to Florida and the 8-4 loss to Colorado, but in the 11 games, they have lost 4-3 three times, and 3-2 twice. They also have a 3-1 loss, but the third goal there was an empty netter. They are losing by slim margins overall. This is a recent improvement for them, though, as their overall goal differential is the second-worst in the Eastern Conference on the season.
A major issue has been the defensive side of the ice, as they have given up 264 goals on the year, which is the second-most in the Eastern Conference as well. The big reason for the number of goals is the number of shots they let up. The NHL average is roughly 30 shots on goal per team per game, but Montreal is fourth to the bottom in the NHL giving up 34.08 shots per contest. An area of hope for Montreal is they are improving there. Since the start of March, they have the average down to 32.91 shots per contest against them. Using their season-long save percentage as a guide, one shot per game over 11 games means one less goal against the team over that span. With how tight games have been for Montreal, that could be the difference in a singular game.
If Montreal can continue to improve in shots against, maybe they can find some offense as well. They have yet to get over 30 shots in a game in March but did hit 30 shots against Florida. It will be up to Josh Anderson, Cole Caufield, and Nick Suzuki to pick that up. All three players are over 20 goals on the season and all have over 135 shots, but averaging right around two shots a game is not enough if you are the team leader. If one of them can spark a little more production than normal, Montreal can cover this game.
Why The Bruins Could Cover The Spread
In order for Boston to win and cover in this game, they just need to keep the status quo. They are second in the league in goals for and first in goals against. Boston has scored on the power play in the last three games, and only given up two power-play goals in their last five games. They have been playing their quick-strike style of offense as well. For example, they only spent 24.1% of the game in the offensive zone against Buffalo but scored seven goals. Boston does not need to control possession or puck time to win, they just need to touch the puck.
Goaltending has been amazing for Boston this year, but it currently looks like a night off for their top guy. Jeremy Swayman is expected to start in goal, and while he is not Linus Ullmark, he has been great in his own right. His last two starts have both been shutouts. He has 62 saves on 62 chances in those games and has been completely dominant. That is coming off two rough performances, but his first game of March was a 26 for 27 night in the net that was a Boston win.
The last thing in favor of Boston is that they are at home. Boston just does not lose very often at home. This year they are 28-3-3 on home ice and have only lost twice at home since the All-Star break. In both of those games, Swayman was in the net.
Final Canadiens-Bruins Prediction & Pick
There is no reason to pick against Boston. They are the best team in the league and rarely have an off night, especially against a bad team. Recent trends show that Boston is trying to save Ullmark for the playoffs, rotating him with Swayman every other game. The only concern for picking Boston is whether or not they begin to do that with other star players. Regardless, there is enough depth on this roster to take care of Montreal.
Final Canadiens-Bruins Prediction & Pick: Boston -1.5 (-170)