NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Canadiens vs. Lightning (Dec. 28)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Canadiens vs. Lightning (Dec. 28) article feature image

Ethan Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Andrei Vasilevskiy and Mikhail Sergachev.

  • The Lightning remain a huge favorite over the Canadiens in Tuesday NHL action. It's Tampa's first game in a week, and Montreal's first since Dec. 16.
  • The Habs have been one of the worst teams in the league this season, so that takes any luster out of this Stanley Cup Finals rematch from last season.
  • See how we're betting Lightning vs. Canadiens below.

Canadiens vs. Lightning Odds

Canadiens Odds+225
Lightning Odds-275
Time7 p.m. ET
Odds updated Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. ET and via DraftKings.

If all goes according to plan, a game between the 2021 Stanley Cup Finalists will welcome fans back to NHL action on Tuesday, when the Tampa Bay Lightning host the Montreal Canadiens.

Both teams have placed multiple players into COVID protocols since they reconvened on Dec. 26, so make sure you check the latest roster updates before you lock in your bets.

In the end, though, all the shuffling likely won't matter much. Here's why you should look to back the favorites in what could be a high-scoring contest at Amalie Arena.

Canadiens' Roster a Shell of Last Season's Finalist

Very little has gone right this season for the Montreal Canadiens, who sat 31st overall at the Christmas break, three points out of the NHL basement. The absences of Carey Price and Shea Weber have made Montreal a shell of what we saw in the playoffs last spring. Other injuries have continued to ravage the roster all season long.

Before having their last four games postponed, the Canadiens did pick up two points in their last game. Cayden Primeau made 37 saves and Jonathan Drouin tallied the shootout winner as Montreal took down the Philadelphia Flyers in the skills competition on Dec. 16, in a fan-free Bell Centre. It was Montreal's first win of the month, and first in eight games.

Tuesday's contest against the Lightning will mark the beginning of a three-game road trip for the Canadiens. Based on Monday's reports, Montreal is expected to be without forwards Mike Hoffman and Laurent Dauphin, defenseman Jeff Petry, Ben Chiarot and Chris Wideman and goaltender Jake Allen, all of whom are in COVID protocol. Forwards Josh Anderson and Artturi Lehkonen are also missing due to injury.

At practice on Monday, the Canadiens went with a familiar top line of Drouin, Nick Suzuki and Brendan Gallagher. Beyond that, you'd be hard-pressed to recognize many names other than youngsters Ryan Poehling and Cole Caufield. Alexander Romanov and David Savard look set to anchor the top pair on the blue line.

The Canadiens have made recalls from their farm team, including goaltender Primeau. They will be bringing several extra players on the road trip as members of their taxi squad.

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Lightning Dealing With Issues of Their Own

Though the Lightning have also been hard hit by injuries this season, the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions went into the holiday break sitting first overall in the NHL with 44 points.

They closed out their pre-Christmas schedule with a 4-3 road win over the Vegas Golden Knights, with head coach Jon Cooper forced to miss that game after being placed in COVID protocols.

After the holiday, Tampa Bay added assistant coach Rob Zettler and six players to the COVID list — both goalies, Andrei Vasilevskiy and Brian Elliott, along with forwards Anthony Cirelli and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and defensemen Mikhail Sergachev and Andrej Sustr. Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Erik Cernak also remain on the sidelines with injuries.

On Monday, Lightning goalie coach Derek Lalonde described the club's goalie situation as 'fluid,' as the club's AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, was dealing with its own COVID issues before the holiday break. Amir Miftakhov, a 21-year-old sixth-round pick from the 2020 draft, has played the most minutes and put the best numbers of the three Crunch netminders so far this season.

Lightning vs. Canadiens Pick

With so many roster variables in play, it'll take a bold bettor to put money on this game.

Based on the current moneyline of -275, the bookmakers are giving the Lightning a 73% chance of a regulation win. That seems reasonable, considering that these teams are currently 27 points apart in the standings.

And while the uncertain goaltending situation certainly gives pause, Tampa Bay looks set to hit the ice on Tuesday with a blue-line group that will include Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh and forwards including Steven Stamkos, Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn and Pat Maroon along with young guns like Ross Colton and Taylor Raddysh, who have been chipping in offensively. The Lightning are built to weather storms and look set to sail through this one, too.

These two teams have met just once this season, with the Lightning mounting a comeback late in the third period to eke out a 3-2 win in Montreal on Dec. 7.

After a long layoff for both teams, with plenty of new faces in the lineup, expect a sloppy contest which could feature plenty of scoring.

Depending on Tampa Bay's goaltending situation, you may want to consider the over. Another that could earn you a better payout than a straight moneyline bet would be to consider backing the home team for a regulation win.

Pick: Lightning (-275); play down to -290.

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