NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction for Canadiens vs. Senators: Has Ottawa’s Puck Luck Run Out? (Saturday, Feb. 26)
Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Sam Montembeault #35 of the Montreal Canadiens.
- The Ottawa Senators are -165 favorites as they host the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday evening at 7 p.m. ET.
- Montreal has experienced a mild resurgence under new head coach Martin St. Louis, and Ottawa lays claim to a hot streak of its own.
- However, as NHL betting analyst Grant White details, one of these two teams may be due for a rude awakening. Find out which side he's betting by reading on below.
Canadiens vs. Senators Odds
|Over/Under||6 (-105 / -115)|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL odds here.|
Neither the Montreal Canadiens nor the Ottawa Senators have playoff aspirations, but that has not stopped either team from elevating its play during the second half of the season.
After languishing through the first half of the season, the Habs have come out firing on all cylinders after the All-Star break. Similarly, the Sens have used a recent hot run to climb up the Eastern Conference standings. With both teams trending up over their recent samples, Saturday night's contest should be an entertaining affair.
The Habs are starting to figure things out under new head coach Martin St. Louis. The former Hart Trophy winner took the reins in Montreal seven games ago and has helped the Canadiens to a 4-3-0 record since then — with all four victories coming during the last four games. The Habs will be looking for more of the same when they travel to Ottawa on Saturday night.
One of the biggest differences in the Habs' metrics since St. Louis took over is Montreal's offensive proficiency. After struggling with offensive production all season, the Canadiens have put up above-average high-danger chances in four of their past seven outings. St. Louis's changes have impacted output, as the Habs have scored three or more goals in five straight contests.
Montreal's improved offensive play coincides with more structured defensive zone coverage. The Habs have limited opponents to nine or fewer high-danger chances in four of seven games under St. Louis — below their season-long average of 9.8 per game.
In total, those changes are impacting the Habs' metrics and outcomes: They have posted expected goals-for ratings above 50.0% in three of seven games, including two straight. A shift in systems could propel the Habs to more positive outcomes to end the season.
The Senators have been where the Canadiens are now. Ottawa spent several years undergoing constant change as a revolving door of players and coaches helped reshape the franchise after starting a rebuild.
Now, the Senators are benefitting from those years of growth and development, competing on a nightly basis and stealing victories from opponents. The Sens appear to be tapering off a hot streak, implying that a correction phase could be on the horizon.
Ottawa is 8-6-3 over their past 17 games, but their advanced metrics suggest that they've exhausted their puck luck to capture those wins. During that stretch, the Sens outplayed their opponents at five-on-five just five times in 17 games. In doing so, the Senators inflated their PDO beyond sustainable levels to 1.013.
We're expecting regression from the Sens during their upcoming games, as they can't continue to get outplayed and still win.
Defensive structure remains a big issue for the Senators, as they've given up 10 or more high-danger chances across all strengths in 10 of their past 12 games. Scoring chances flow abundantly for their opponents as well, with opponents attempting more than 30 in four of six.
Part of the reason the Sens' PDO has risen over their recent sample is that their goalies continue to bail them out.
We're expecting sustained production from the Habs as they adapt to their new systems.
Early returns are strong, as Montreal has collected wins in four straight games, watching their analytics improve on both ends of the ice. They can use that strong play to facilitate the Sens' regression, as we're anticipating some tough luck losses to pile up for Ottawa over the coming games. Thus, we expect the Habs to come out on top on Saturday.
Pick: Canadiens +140