Canadiens vs. Hurricanes Betting Odds & Picks: Can Montreal’s Defense Hang With the Canes?
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Sebastian Aho and Nino Niederreiter
- The Carolina Hurricanes are betting favorites (-160 moneyline odds) in their season-opener on Thursday night against the Montreal Canadiens (+135 moneyline odds).
- Michael Leboff previews each team's season, and gives a betting pick for tonight's matchup.
Montreal Canadiens @ Carolina Hurricanes Betting Odds
- Canadiens odds: +135
- Hurricanes odds: -160
- Over/Under: 5.5
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
The Carolina Hurricanes, once again, come into a new season with considerable hype. Only this time around, their odds reflect that. The Canes are 20-1 to win the Stanley Cup, have a season point total of 94.5 and are the second-favorite to win the Metropolitan Division behind the Washington Capitals.
It makes sense that the market is high on the Canes. They’ve long been a trendy sleeper pick thanks to terrific peripheral numbers, and last season the Hurricanes made good on those numbers with a run to the Eastern Conference Final.
The Canes didn’t rest on their laurels in the summer, adding Jake Gardiner to an already fantastic defense, and bringing in Ryan Dzingel and Erik Haula to help mitigate the loss of play-driving forward Justin Williams.
Even with its deep group of skill players up top, Carolina’s biggest strength is its defense. Headlined by Jaccob Slavin and Dougie Hamilton, the Hurricanes’ top-four can go toe-to-toe with any blue line in the NHL.
Carolina’s defense is built to move the puck effectively and the Canes employ an aggressive forecheck that forces mistakes deep in the offensive zone.
Whatever Carolina was doing worked, as the Canes led the NHL with 3.01 expected goals for per 60 minutes (5-on-5, score + venue adjusted) and had the best xG delta (the difference between xGF/60 and xGA/60) at 0.61.
Even though they missed the playoffs, the Canadiens weren’t all that far behind the Hurricanes in terms of xG%. Montreal profiles as a strong defensive team, allowing just 2.3 xGA/60 in 2018-19.
The Canadiens were strong going forward, as well, finishing fifth in the NHL with a 2.67 xGF/60 last season.
Projecting goaltending on a game-to-game basis is tough to do, but the edge in this game is with the Canadiens and Carey Price. The former NHL MVP put together a terrific second half in 2018-19 and looked closer to the best-goalie-in-the-world Price rather than the version of Price we saw flounder in 2017-18.
Petr Mrazek was impressive for Carolina in 2018-19, but he’s been a mercurial netminder throughout his career so far. Last season, the 27-year-old goaltender put up a +5.9 Goals Saved Above Average, but in the two years prior he had a -20.3 GSAA, meaning he cost his team 20.3 goals compared to a league-average goalie.
Montreal’s roster doesn’t have the high-end talent that Carolina’s boasts, but the Canadiens have enough depth to skate with the Hurricanes and they play a strong defensive game, so there’s a chance this turns into more of a rock fight than the Hurricanes would like.
The Hurricanes are right to be favored, but the line value in this game is with Montreal at the current price. I wouldn’t dip below +135 on the Habs, but there are +140s popping up around the market for Montreal, and I think that makes a fine bet.
Pick: Canadiens +135 or better