The Montreal Canadiens are the only Canadian team left in the playoffs. That’s just 1 out of 7 teams from the hockey crazed country that are left competing for the ultimate prize in the NHL. I will bet that the Habs series gets the most viewers of all 8 first round match ups just because of this fact. That’s even with some very interesting match-ups between like the Blues vs Blackhawks and the Sharks vs Kings.
It also helps that the series really could go either way. The Habs are every so slight underdogs in this series, but the teams finished within 1 point of each other in the standings, but the Lightnings 4 game winning streak to end the season helped them gain home ice advantage in this series. That said both teams were decent on the road this year as well, so I don’t think this home ice advantage will play too big a factor in the series.
Habs vs Lightning Series Odds
Here are the odds for each team to win the series:
As you can see the Canadiens are very small underdogs in this one.
I like the Canadiens to win the series. I could see it going 6 or 7 games, but I like the Habs to make it to round 2.
Carey Price is a big reason for my belief in the Canadiens team. He showed that he can play great under pressure at the Olympics this year and I think he is the better goaltender than Ben Bishop. As long as PK Subban plays responsible defensively the Habs should be able to score more goals than they allow.
Galchenyuk is out for the series, but I don’t think that’s a big loss. Briere is a playoff performer and David Desharnais and Thomas Vanek have been playing very well together since Vanek was traded to the Habs for basically peanuts at the deadline. The Habs have 3 very strong forward lines with the likes of Plecanek, Pacioretty, Gallagher, etc and the players listed above. The team was able to gain some playoff experience last year even though they lost in 5 games to the Senators, but I think this experience will help them understand what it will take this year.
The Lightning are also a very young team and although Stamkos, Purcell and Callahan will provide some experience up front. I do think the trade of St. Louis at the deadline will hurt their chances in this series. Callahan is a great player, but if the Habs can shut down Stamkos it will be interesting to see if Palat, Johnson and company can keep up their scoring pace from the regular season.
I like the Habs at 1.99 in this one from BetOnline.ag!