Thursday NHL Odds & Picks for Hurricanes at Canadiens: Will Montreal’s Struggles Continue?
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- The Canadiens are a short home underdog against the Hurricanes on Thursday night.
- The Habs have struggled to start the year after making the Stanley Cup Final last season, and things won't get any easier with Carolina in town.
- Get our Canadiens vs. Canes betting pick and preview below.
Hurricanes at Canadiens Odds
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The Montreal Canadiens are off to their worst start since 1996 and risk losing their fifth straight game to start the season. The Habs host the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night, as the Canes look to begin the season with three consecutive victories.
The advanced metrics support that the Hurricanes have a substantive advantage, but that's not reflected in the betting price.
The Canes are buzzing to start the seasons, outplaying their opponents across all strengths in both of their games. In total, Carolina has the eighth-best expected goals-for percentage at 57.7%, thanks to their impressive powerplay metrics.
The Canes are capitalizing on 22.2% of their powerplay opportunities through two games, with three of their nine goals being scored with the man advantage.
That is noteworthy production; however, there is more room to grow for the Canes. Carolina finished last season with the second-ranked powerplay unit, scoring on 25.6% of their powerplay chances, recording the third-most goals. The Canes will have room to operate against an ineffective Habs penalty kill, increasing their production metrics and dragging output up with it.
Tonight's contest is also a homecoming for Jesperi Kotkaniemi. The young forward signed an offer sheet from the Canes this off-season that the Canadiens didn't match, and now he's set for his first game back in Montreal as a visitor. Kotkaniemi will have a chance to shine against his former team, playing on the Canes' top line with Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen.
The Habs have been an unadulterated mess this season. The team is 0-4-0 to start the season, and their metrics suggest that there's little relief within reach. Montreal has been badly outplayed and that should continue on Thursday night.
Through four games, Montreal's expected goals-for percentage sits at 44.4%, which is the sixth-worst in the league. On a game-by-game basis, the Habs have been outplayed in three of four, despite getting some ideal matchups against inferior opponents.
Granted, Montreal's metrics are slightly improved at five-on-five; but, they remain below 50.0% in most relative metrics to start the season, meaning they are attempting fewer chances than they are creating. It's going to be challenging to break out of their funk against a team that continues to dictate the game flow and overpower their opponents.
Carey Price and Shea Weber remain unavailable to the Habs, and it's not clear when, or if, either player will rejoin the team. Until then, the Habs are destined for more ongoing challenges like they've had to start the season.
Canadiens vs. Hurricanes Pick
The Habs have given up at least one power play goal in every game this season, and the Canes remain among the best in the league in capitalizing on those chances. Carolina will benefit from the extra time and space in the attacking zone, prolonging Montreal's misery to start the season.
This is a short price on a much better team, and it's worth making a play on the Canes beyond the -120 currently available.
Pick: Hurricanes -120