NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Canadiens vs. Devils (April 7)

NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Canadiens vs. Devils (April 7) article feature image

Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Nick Suzuki.

  • The Devils host the Canadiens as home favorites on Thursday.
  • New Jersey will be shorthanded without a few key pieces, but does this lend enough value on the road underdogs?
  • Greg Liodice breaks down the matchup and shares his best bet below.

Canadiens vs. Devils Odds

Canadiens Odds+140
Devils Odds-160
Over/Under6.5 (-115/-105)
Time7 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

Two Eastern Conference bottom feeders square off on Thursday night as the Montreal Canadiens travel to New Jersey and take on the Devils. The Devils were the victors in both previous matchups, and they’ll be going for the season sweep.

Montreal has certainly had a season to forget after making the Stanley Cup Finals last year. The Canadiens are currently tied for last league-wide and have gone 3-4-3 in their last 10 games.

The Devils haven’t had it much easier. With so many expectations before the season, New Jersey has faltered. The Devils hold the second-worst record in the East and have gone 2-7-1 in their last 10 games.

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Canadiens Looking for Momentum

After the Cinderella season last year, it’s clear that Montreal is looking to the future. New coach Martin St. Louis has proved to be a positive for the development of young players, especially Cole Caufield. The youngster has managed to score 15 goals and 12 assists since the hiring in February.

Along with Caufield, Nick Suzuki, Josh Anderson have contributed as well. They will be without key players like Jonathan Drouin and Jeff Petry, however, due to injury.

After the surge Montreal went on, the offense has come back down to Earth. Scoring a 31st-ranked 2.51 goals per game, the Habs can’t seem to generate a sustainable offense with an Expected Goals rate of 44.15 or many High Danger Chances. Not only that, but they hold also the second-worst Power Play, scoring at only a 13.7% clip.

When it comes to defense, the Habs are pretty atrocious. They allow the second-most goals per game (3.80), and a second-most High Danger Chances. Their Penalty Kill is also among the league’s worst, with only a 13.7% success rate.

Jake Allen has received the majority of starts since his return from injury, and it’s uncertain if he’ll get the nod or if St. Louis gives backup Sam Montembeault a shot at it. The veteran is posting a serviceable .905 SV% and a -1.5 GSAx (Goals Saved Above Expected) – and given how poorly the Habs have been, these are exceptional stats. Montembeault started the season rough but played better towards the end. He’s averaging an .895 SV% and a -11.9 GSAx.

Devils Dealing with Injuries

New Jersey has certainly taken a few bumps this year. The Devils lost stud forward Jack Hughes in their last game against the Rangers, and Yegor Sharangovich and Jimmy Vesey are both day-to-day. That leaves it up to guys like Jesper Bratt, Nico Hischier, and Dawson Mercer to contribute in their absences.

Yes, this season for the Devils has been a major disappointment after high expectations, but they aren’t horrific at generating offense. The Devils score a little over three goals per game, which is slightly below average, but their Expected Goals rate is at the league-average at 50.76.

Losing Hughes for the season hurts, but they are a team that has created a ton of High Danger Chances all season. One limitation is that the Power Play isn’t very good, only scoring 17.4% of the time.

Even though the Devils let up the fourth-most goals per game (3.67), they actually aren’t terrible on defense. They don’t allow a lot of High Danger Chances, and the Penalty Kill is around the league average at 80.2%.

Goaltending has been a massive problem in Newark. Jonathan Bernier has been out most of the year with a season-long injury, and Mackenzie Blackwood is now hurt. The net has been occupied mostly by Nico Daws and Jon Gillies. Daws has gotten most of the starts with an .890 SV% and a -8.6 GSAx, while Gillies has an .882 SV% and a -17.1 GSAx. So yeah, not great. No matter who starts, I’d expect a few shots to get past.

Canadiens vs. Devils Pick

I always enjoy betting on games featuring teams that have nothing to play for.

If you look at the numbers, New Jersey shouldn’t be as bad as the standings suggest. Goaltending issues have held the Devils back all season long, which is why they let up so many goals. Being without Jack Hughes is also a major hit, as he’s been New Jersey’s top play driver all season.

The Habs are bad in every end except in net. However, they are capable of a few upsets, which I wouldn’t take lightly. Despite Montreal’s inability to put together good numbers, they are a lot better now with St. Louis at the helm.

All in all, I think goaltending will be the difference maker here, as well as the major injuries. I’m backing Montreal to pull off the upset in the Garden State.

Pick: Montreal Canadiens ML +140

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