With just 2 days to recover from their magical game 7 triumph in Washington, the Montreal Canadiens are almost certain to take a loss here in game 1 of this series (due to emotional and physical drainage) , but just how the rest of the series will play out is still open to debate. Canadiens’ goaltender, Jaroslav Halak appears to be the 2010 edition of ‘the hot goalie’, following in the footsteps of notable predecessors such as Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Cam Ward, and if history has shown us anything about scrappy underdog teams with hot goaltenders, it has been that these teams have had a tendency to go all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, however, will probably be Montreal’s biggest obstacle towards realizing this goal (even bigger than the Washington Capitals). While Montreal was able to practically shadow Alex Ovechkin on each and every shift, and for the most part, prevent him from hitting the net with any of his shots, the play-making abilities of both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will provide the Canadiens with a whole new set of problems. The defending Stanley Cup champions have also gotten a great deal of offensive productivity out of their role players as well in these playoffs, with every Pittsburgh forward who played in all six of their opening round playoff games scoring at least 1 goal. The more balanced and structured attack of Pittsburgh should be able fare much better than the Capitals did against Halak and the Habs.
With all that being said though, the betting price for the Pittsburgh Penguins to win this series is a whopping -500, and it may be a better idea to just keep that money tucked away somewhere safe. Aside from just having a hot goaltender, the Canadiens also have some of the best special teams in the entire league, as exhibited in their opening round playoff series with Washington, where they scored a PP goal in 6 of the 7 games, and allowed just 1 PP goal to the Capitals in the entire series. These equalizing factors might just give Montreal that 20% chance here at the upset.
On the other hand, if you are looking to bet on the underdog Canadiens in this series, then it wouldn’t hurt to wait until they lose at least one game here on the road in Pittsburgh. If the Habs lose game 1, then the payout for the series bet skyrockets, and if they split the first two games of the series then the price will be virtually the same as it is right now.
The prediction here, however, is that the Pens will win this series in 6 games, with the Habs going down 2-0 early in the series, and then, fighting back to win games 3 and 5, before falling. Perhaps then, it will be Tuukka Rask who turns out to be the actual ‘hot goalie’ of 2010.
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