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NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Canadiens vs. Penguins (Dec. 14)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Canadiens vs. Penguins (Dec. 14) article feature image

Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Mike Matheson

Canadiens vs. Penguins Odds

Canadiens Odds+235
Penguins Odds-300
Over/Under5.5 (-105/-115)
Time7 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

Out in the Steel City, the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Montreal Canadiens in PPG Paints Center. These teams have played each other twice with the season series being a 1-1 split and Montreal winning most recently. The Pens will look to get revenge on the defending Eastern Conference champs in this bout.

Coincidentally, the last time the Habs won a game was the last time they played the Penguins. Since their last victory, Montreal has lost six straight games, and this season keeps handing them blows. They are currently missing Tyler Toffoli, Jeff Petry, Josh Anderson, and Brendan Gallagher to injury.

On the other side, it’s been much different for the Penguins since these two teams last met. Pittsburgh has gone 4-1-1 and have been playing some quality hockey. They also have been playing at nearly full strength, just missing Bryan Rust to injury. Things have been good in the Steel City, and they hope to continue this run.

A Rough Year For The Canadiens

What a difference a year makes, huh? A year removed from making the Stanley Cup Final, the Montreal Canadiens now stand as a bottom-two team in the league. Granted, it’s essentially a different team than last year, especially with all the injuries they’ve endured.

Nick Suzuki is their top point-getter with Toffoli and Jonathan Drouin behind him. Recently, the Habs fired their GM, Marc Bergevin, so it looks like after a magical year last season, Montreal is starting anew.

With all the struggles the Habs have endured, it’s no surprise that they stand at the bottom in 5-on-5 expected goals per 60 minutes with a 1.8 xGF. The one positive is that they do generate a good number of high danger chances with 234. Their power play is also a concern, scoring at an awful 13.1% clip. Things just haven’t clicked for the league’s oldest franchise, and it doesn’t look like it’ll stop.

The goaltending situation will be figured out once Carey Price comes back. Until then, it’ll still be up in the air. Jake Allen has done the best he could do with what’s in front of him. The veteran has done fairly well for himself posting a .906 SV% and a -0.2 Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx).

Backup Samuel Montembault has been average at best with a .897 SV% and a -4.8 GSAx. Allen has received the bulk of the starts, but Montembault hasn’t played since November, so keep track of who starts in net.

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Penguins Look Like The Penguins Again

Just when you think the Penguins are done, they always find a way to prove the doubters wrong. While they stumbled out the gate this season without Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang, they’ve managed to claw back and become one hotter teams in the East. Jake Guentzel is continuing to prove he’s a superstar in this league, and Evan Rodrigues is making a name for himself as well. 

Pittsburgh is one of the better teams in the NHL at 5-on-5. The Penguins drive play with the best of them, ranking in the top 10 in expected goals per 60 with a 2.58 xGF, as well as the top 10 in high danger chances created.

However, their powerplay is one of the worst, scoring at just under 15%. While it’s nothing to be concerned about given their top-notch 5-on-5 play, it is certainly something they need to work on.

Tristan Jarry must’ve kept his eyes glued to social media all offseason. After a disappointing playoffs, Jarry was ridiculed for not being the goalie everyone had hoped to be. This season, he’s a whole new animal.

The former second-round pick is posting otherworldly numbers with a .934 SV% (top 5 among goalies) and an 11.6 GSAx. I fully expect him to play since backup Casey DeSmith recently took the crease in a shutout win against the Ducks.

Canadiens vs. Penguins Pick

The Penguins have been dominant, and I expect them to come out guns blazing looking for revenge. Montreal is a totally depleted team and with the Penguins’ deadly offense, I don’t see the Habs having a chance.

I don’t think this game will be close, and I can see the Penguins winning this in a convincing fashion.

Pick: Pittsburgh Penguins -1.5 (-115)

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