If the NHL betting fans have learned something over the years, it’s that regular season stats and trends can very often go out the window during the postseason. Teams that struggled to keep the puck out of the net during the 82-game regular season schedule suddenly turn into a defensive brick wall, while teams that scored freely find it tough to light the lamp. We got a perfect look at that sort of scenario in Game 1 of the New York Rangers/Montreal Canadiens first-round series.
The Rangers spent the regular season down near the middle of the pack in goals allowed per game, but managed to pitch a shutout on the road, with Henrik Lundqvist stopping all 31 shots that he faced. With that win, the Rangers now have home ice advantage, and the Canadiens have more than a little pressure to deal with for Game 2, as it has suddenly become a must win. If the Rangers can steal the second game in Montreal, they may be heading back to the Big Apple with an unassailable lead.
New York Rangers at Montreal Canadiens Game 2 Info & NHL Odds:
When: Friday, April 14 at 7 PM EST
Where: Bell Centre, Montreal
TV: MSG, USA Network
NHL Odds: Canadiens -1½+210
Why bet on the New York Rangers
Perhaps we shouldn’t really be that surprised to see the Rangers get the Game 1 win, as they were a very solid team on the road all year, actually winning 6 more games away from home than they did on home ice. It was perhaps the manner that they won the game in which was the surprise. New York were outside the top 10 in goals allowed per game this season, giving up an average of 2.6 GPG.
Lundqvist turned back the clock between the pipes, stopping 31 shots in Game 1, with some of those saves being of the spectacular variety. If they can get that type of goaltending throughout, the Rangers high-powered offense may well be able to go to work.
Why bet on the Montreal Canadiens
This was always going to be a series that featured great defense versus powerful offense. The Canadiens finished 4th in goals allowed per game in the regular season, while the Rangers were 4th in goals scored per game. Montreal were not what anyone would describe as a big scoring team in the regular season, so they are going to need their defense to step up. Holding the Rangers to 2 goals was good, but it’s all for naught if the Canadiens can’t put the puck in the net. Montreal should still be confident heading into Game 2, as they had won 6 of the last 7 meetings versus the Rangers in the regular season.
Expert Pick and Final Score Prediction
When these two teams last met in the playoffs in 2014, it was the Rangers who won the opening two games before going on to win the series in 6. I’m not so sure they will repeat that feat, though, as I like Montreal to even the series on Friday night.New York Rangers 2 Montreal Canadiens 3