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Oilers vs. Canadiens NHL Odds & Pick: Bet Montreal on Monday With the Right Starting Goaltender (April 5)

Oilers vs. Canadiens NHL Odds & Pick: Bet Montreal on Monday With the Right Starting Goaltender (April 5) article feature image

David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Carey Price.

  • The Canadiens host the Oilers on Monday night with a potential goaltending conundrum.
  • Carey Price has been the Habs’ star between the pipes for years, but he has struggled this season and put his starting spot in doubt.
  • Matt Russell breaks down that situation and why he’s still backing the Habs against Edmonton.

Oilers vs. Canadiens Odds

Oilers Odds+105
Canadiens Odds-125
TimeMonday, 7 p.m. ET
Odds as of Sunday and via BetMGM

Last week, we had the age-old matchup of rest vs rust. Normally that debate is left to determine if a one team is better off having an unusual amount of time off, or whether it ends up being detrimental. Except, in the case of the Montreal Canadiens, their rust was COVID-induced. What would be the effect of not being able to so much as practice for a full week? 

Meanwhile the Edmonton Oilers had to deal with a rest issue of their own — as in they didn’t have any. The Oilers landed in Montreal in the wee hours of their game day and had to overcome a trend that had been almost foolproof this season.

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Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers were handed what is known around the league as a “scheduled loss,” a situation in which one team plays the night before in another city, against a different team, while the other team sits and waits. The team lying in wait has lost just once this season (the Senators 3-2 loss to the Jets in the season’s second week). The Oilers weren’t able to change that, losing 4-0 in Montreal. They were outshot 32-16, out-High-Danger Chanced 10-5 at even strength, and had just 0.9 Expected Goals For at even-strength to the Habs’ 2.15.

The Oilers have played just once since, a win over the Flames in an evenly matched game, as they’ve had their schedule shuffled thanks to two different COVID situations with other teams. That one game didn’t do much to change the Oilers metrics and the evaluation of their play at even-strength this season. Despite being 19-8 in their last 27 games, Edmonton has only been moderately better than average while 5-on-5. They’ve averaged 8.2 even-strength High-Danger Chances and allowed their opponents to create 8.4 per game. From an Expected Goals standpoint, the Oilers have averaged 1.81 to 1.79 for the opposition. 

When you have Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on your team, you would expect to probably take advantage of the High-Danger Chances you create at a higher rate than most. However, that hasn’t been the case for Edmonton, as they’ve converted at a below-average 12.5% rate. The fear of McDavid and Draisaitl comes to fruition when the Oilers hit the power play, as they’re clicking at the second-highest rate in the NHL at 26.5%.

Defensively, the Oilers aren’t exactly shutting teams down but as much as their goaltending is much-maligned, they actually have a better than average rate at stopping opponents’ High-Danger Chances at even-strength.

The combination of Mike Smith and Mika Koskinen isn’t killing the Oilers. Unexpectedly, the veteran Smith is the one who’s been really good really often this season, and with the limited action of the past week-plus, I would expect him in the net on Monday night. Especially since Koskinen took the brunt of things during the last trip to Montreal. 

Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.

Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.

xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.

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Montreal Canadiens

It turned out that Montreal was unaffected by its hiatus due to a COVID positive test, and are slowly getting healthier. On Saturday, Tyler Toffoli returned after three games away and made an immediate impact scoring the first goal for the Habs against Ottawa. That start to the Canadiens’ game wasn’t the big takeaway from a fourth loss to the Senators this season.

The big issue is the league’s most awkward, draw- out, conversation to come. There’s going to come a point where the Canadiens acknowledge, first to themselves and then to Carey Price, that he’s not providing them their best chance to win.

Oftentimes, the teams themselves are the last to know, but the market has certainly figured out that the Canadiens are a more valuable team when Jake Allen starts in goal for Montreal. There’s been more than a few times this season when Allen was announced as starting and the price for the Habs got more expensive. Appropriately, when Price plays for the Canadiens, it costs them. Price has a Goals Saved Above Average of -3.81, while Allen has 4.7 Goals Saved Above Average in just 12 starts. 

With Edmonton coming back into town so soon after getting steamrolled by the Habs, Montreal can expect a top-tier effort from the Oilers’ big guns. Given that the Oilers difference-makers make their biggest difference on the power play, it would behoove the Canadiens to stay out of the penalty box as their penalty kill has fallen to 26th in the NHL. Though in the four previous matchups between the teams this season, the Oilers have just one power play goal against Montreal.

Betting Analysis & Pick

The Oilers won’t be without motivation after last week’s loss, and the three losses in four games to Montreal this season, but after losing again to Ottawa on Saturday, the Habs aren’t going to be lacking effort either. Fundamentally this comes down to finding an edge in the price relative to how my “Let’s Do That Hockey” model rates these two teams. 

With the Oilers at a dead-even average team at 5-on-5, and the Habs rated at 16% above-average. I would need to get the projected opening moneyline price of MTL -125 in conjunction with the goaltender I want in net if I’m the Canadiens, and that’s Jake Allen.

Pick: Canadiens (-125 or better)

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