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Senators vs. Canadiens NHL Odds & Picks: Fade the Habs on Home Ice (May 1)

Senators vs. Canadiens NHL Odds & Picks: Fade the Habs on Home Ice (May 1) article feature image

David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Montreal’s Alexander Romanov and Ottawa’s Connor Brown

  • Ottawa has caught fire, winning five of its last six games, but it's too little, too late.
  • The Senators are currently two spots back of Montreal for the fourth and final playoff berth from the North Division.
  • Standings aside, Matt Russell is backing Ottawa as often as he can before the regular season concludes.

Senators vs. Canadiens Odds

Senators Odds +180
Canadiens Odds -200
Over/Under 6.0
Time | TV Saturday, 7 p.m. ET
Odds as of Friday night and via BetMGM.

This feels like a weird thing to type, and it’s an even weirder thing to say out loud, but we’re running out of chances to bet on the Ottawa Senators this year, and I don’t like it.

I wish I could say the same thing about the Montreal Canadiens. They haven’t been all that fun to bet on this season, and with a strong hold on a playoff spot, it seems like there’s going to be more than enough opportunity to bet on them…. only if we have to.

Ottawa Senators

Thanks to a four-game series with the Canucks, the Senators have officially caught fire. While they won three of four versus the Canucks, they did the same in their previous four games against much better competition with wins over Calgary, Winnipeg and their opponent Saturday, the Canadiens. 

In their 6-2 stretch the Senators have been able to look past multiple goaltender injuries to play at a rating of almost 17% above average according to my “Let’s Do That Hockey” model, as heard on THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast. They’ve tallied 54 High-Danger Chances at even strength, compared to 45 for their opponents.

The more HDC you create, the more goals you’re likely to score. Sure enough, they’ve converted on eight of those chances. Meanwhile, their opponents have only been able to beat Ottawa goaltenders just twice. On top of that, they’ve averaged more than one Expected Goal at even-strength than their opponent (2.41-1.37).

It’s those 43 saves on 45 High-Danger Chances against that is the key stat for the Senators, who have seen their goaltending collective improve on a month-to-month basis. 

Senators Team Goaltending Stats:

Month: January February March April
Goals Against Avg. 4.89 3.36 3.31 2.79
Save Percentage .848 .895 .903 .920

What’s in store for the first day in May? The Senators hope for a similar situation as the last time these two teams met. 

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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 and advanced stats cited from Evolving Hockey, MoneyPuck and Natural Stat Trick.

Montreal Canadiens

Two weeks ago, the Senators caught the Canadiens napping on a Saturday afternoon and skated out of Montreal with a shutout victory. The Habs had won a showdown game with the Flames the night before to keep Calgary at arms-length for the fourth and final playoff spot north of the border.

Neither team cracked double digits in High-Danger Chances at even strength or 1.50 Expected Goals 5-on-5. The Senators didn’t even sniff 20 shots on goal, finishing the game with 15. 

This has been common practice for the Canadiens unfortunately. Going into Friday’s game with the Jets, they have had nine or more even-strength High-Danger Chances in just two of their last 13 games, while their opponents have averaged 9.3 in this recent subsection of their season. As a result, my model translates that into 11% below average relative to the rest of the North Division. 

The Canadiens won a big one on Friday night in a game where we were backing them in this space. They found their way to 12 High-Danger Chances at even-strength, dominating 5-on-5 play to the tune of a 2.74-1.19 advantage in Expected Goals.

That said, they needed to come from down 3-1 in the second period and got the game-winner late in the third for the key pair of points. The bad news for Montreal is that they haven’t strung two good games in a row together since March, so why would we expect the same desperation 24 hours later?

Betting Analysis & Pick

The under-the-radar underlying metrics of this Senators team that is growing up before our very eyes is what continues to make them a valuable bet. My model projects the Habs as a 59% favourite using the season-long metrics for both teams.

However, we’re looking at an inspired Senators team that’s finally getting consistency in between the pipes and a Habs team that’s not consistent anywhere. On top of that, their win on Friday came without top defenceman, Shea Weber, who I’d expect to miss another game. Also, they’ll likely be turning to the young Cayden Primeau on the latter end of a back-to-back. 

Even a fair value price of OTT +146 would be good enough for me to fire on the scrappy young Sens, but we’re going to get a better number than that, and we’ll take it with just a few more chances to do so. 

Pick: Senators (+150 or better)

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