Habs Shoot for Respect vs. Bolts
Are the Montreal Canadiens heading back toward NHL royalty? It's way too early to tell. But on Thursday night the Habs get another chance to test reigning royalty as the Tampa Bay Lightning come to town for a game that should offer a good challenge in NHL betting.
Tampa Bay has another playoff-searching season going, after two years of going deep into postseason. In the middle of a six-game northern swing, the Bolts are 5-1-0 coming off Tuesday's 7-3 triumph at Toronto and a New York tour around the bend. The Lightning are up to their old tricks, with Steven Stamkos and Tyler Johnson leading a lineup of centers who are all contributing. Nikita Kucherov and Jonathan Drouin add to the offensive threat from the wings. The defense could be better, but Ben Bishop has a handy backup with Andrei Vasilevskiy having played well in two games.
The Canadiens are looking for improvement from last year's .500 season, and they're getting it, largely because of defense and goal keeping. They were allowing just 1.5 goals per game going into Wednesday, with both Al Montoya and Carey Price, who was out with flu to start the season, serving in goal. Offensively, the Canadiens are scoring nearly four goals per game, with new defenseman Shea Weber leading the way. The Habs were 5-0-1 going into Wednesday's game at the New York Islanders.
The Canadiens were off to a similar start last year before Price went down and left them with continual problems at goal. They defeated the Lightning in all four games they played last year, and have already beaten Pittsburgh this season, so they won't suffer from lack of confidence in this one. The Bolts have been on a relatively short Ottowa-Toronto tour, so the road situation may not hurt them as much as Montreal having to return from New York on back-to-backs. And the Lightning looked really good in the win at Toronto Tuesday, building a 4-0 lead before losing concentration a bit. This game could be close, but I'm thinking Tampa is simply a better team and worth -120 or better in a straight moneyline in NHL betting. The matchup hit the over three of four times last year and both teams are showing scoring potential this year, so a -120 or better at 5 ½ would be safe. If you're watching, the live betting always offers good opportunities, especially with momentum swings.
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