The best sports bet for today is taking Montreal (+1.5) to cover on the puckline (-295 at 888Sport). The Canadiens are coming off a 2-1 loss to Calgary on Thursday, but the schedule caught up to them. The Habs were tired, having played 24 hours earlier against Vancouver and mustered only 18 total shots on goal against the Flames.
Free Picks: Calgary Flames vs Montreal Canadiens
Will new coach reignite the fire in Calgary?
It’s always interesting to see the effect of a new coach on a team’s performance, so the Flames will attract a lot of attention in the rematch after Darryl Sutter won his coaching debut on Thursday with a 2-1 win over Montreal.
Of course, Montreal also has a relatively new coach in Dominique Ducharme, who is 3-2-3 in his first 8 games. The first meeting between the clubs this week resulted in a 2-1 Calgary win. But this was more about Montreal being fatigued than Calgary roaring out of the gate..
When I go about making my NHL picks, I look at a few things, and one of them is coaching and trying to determine how a team responds when a new coach comes in. This is Sutter’s second go-round coaching Calgary and he has a proven track record. In 2003-04, Sutter led the Flames to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they lost to Tampa. Sutter has also coached the Los Angeles Kings to two Stanley Cup titles.
When I’m making my NHL predictions, I look at a variety of statistical measures. I checked back to see how Montreal has performed after a loss. And it turns out that Montreal is 6-2 in games following a loss, so I think the Canadiens show up with a more forceful effort than their lackluster showing on Thursday.
You can expect Calgary to play a fast-paced game with better structure for a full 60 minutes under Sutter. On Thursday, players were not hesitating or questioning where they were to be positioned like they had been through the first part of the season. The players seemed to be having fun, and this will raise their confidence level.
The Over/Under has been set at 5.5, but I think the best value is betting Montreal to cover on the puck line. I just believe that a well-rested Montreal club will give a more spirited effort on Saturday. Look at their last 4 games. In one of them, Montreal scored 7 goals against Winnipeg and in another they put 5 goals past Vancouver.
Montreal will be without defenseman Ben Chariot, who broke his right hand in a fight earlier in the week. But I would still take Montreal (+1.5) to cover with the puck line (-295) with 888Sport.
- Montreal is 13-13 ATS.
- Montreal is 6-2 the next game after a loss.
- Calgary is 11-16 ATS.
- The Canadiens are 1-6 in their last 7 road games.
- The Over is 9-3-1 in Montreal’s last 13 in the third game of a 3-in-4 games situation.
More NHL Free Pickssee more
With the future of the NHL in the hands of all 32 owners, the NHL Draft is one of the most hyped events on the hockey calendar.
The Minnesota Wild travel to Vegas to play the Golden Knights on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET in their round 1 playoff series. Vegas seems destined.
The Number 1 ranked Hurricanes battle it out against the underdog Predators in the Central Division. Can Nashville hang with the big dogs in round 1?
The Pittsburgh Penguins open at home in their best-of-seven playoff series against the N.Y. Islanders on Sunday. The Penguins are favored.
I live in the land of ice and snow in Toronto, Canada's largest city. I can't skate very well, but I know sports, especially hockey, after a long career writing about the Toronto Maple Leafs and other teams at the country's largest newspaper, the Toronto Star. Betting on sports can be a rewarding experience when you understand the trends and underlying characteristics of the teams and players before laying down a bet. That's how I hope to point you in the right direction.