NHL picks: 4 best bets for Canadiens vs Jets
Our NHL expert has picked out his four best bets for Game 2 between the Montreal Canadiens and the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night.
After completely whiffing on my Game 1 projections, I’m going right back to the same pick. After the emotional finish to the game where Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele steamrolled Jake Evans, causing an injury and Evans being stretchered off the ice, you can expect a very motivated Montreal club. You won’t be seeing Scheifele, though, as he has been suspended four games, delivering a very critical blow to the Jets’ depth going forward.
Even though the Canadiens were the better team and deserved the win in Game 1, I just don’t see Connor Hellebuyck having back-to-back bad starts. Throughout the season, Hellebuyck responded from bad performances with exceptional ones. There was only one two-game stretch in this season where Hellebuyck posted a sub-.900 save percentage in consecutive games. Expect a big bounce back from the goalie.
How the Jets respond to the loss of Scheifele and a Habs roster that will certainly want to exact revenge for their injured teammate will have a lot to do with this, too. Sometimes teams rise to the occasion when they lose a player to injury or suspension as others find a way to step up and fill the void.
I fully expect the Jets’ top players to come up with a response. That said, they’re going to have to deal with Carey Price on the other side, who has been exceptional in the postseason and was again in Game 1. Price has won each of his last four starts and has been dialed in.
That’s a big reason why I’m going with the under in this game. Even though we saw eight goals enter the net in Game 1, I think both netminders will be especially tough to beat in this one.
It is also my expectation that the Jets will find a way to tighten up defensively. They allowed too many shots in Game 1 and played a little too loose, making mental lapses leading to goals.
After watching Winnipeg shut down Edmonton as well as they did, it’s hard to imagine them putting forth another poor effort, especially with Paul Maurice behind the bench making necessary adjustments. On top of that, Scheifele has been one of the team’s worst defensive impact forwards, so his absence might actually help them out in the defensive zone a little bit.
I think it’s going to take the Jets at least scoring three goals to beat this Montreal squad.
The Jets have the guns to put pressure on Price and make things difficult on the Canadiens’ defenders. Kyle Connor and Nikolaj Ehlers connected for a goal in the last game, but were relatively quiet. Don’t expect that to continue. Additionally, Blake Wheeler put six shots on goal in the last game. He’s going to finish one of those chances sooner than later.
Price is on a stretch like we haven’t seen him on all season. He showed maybe a crack or two in the last game, but kept it together. Price hasn’t been this consistent in a few years - the last time he won five straight playoff starts was in 2014.
I know I took the under in Game 1 and missed on that one, but I’m going back there again. I just don’t think the Jets are going to allow this game to get away from them as much as they did in Game 1. They’re going to tighten it up defensively.
On top of that, I think there’s going to be quite a few penalties in this game as the referees look to get this series under control after the Scheifele incident. It seems counter-intuitive, but the more power plays there are, the less flow there is to the game and it can sometimes keep the shots lower than your average game. Teams aren’t as shot-happy as they are more calculated.
Which reminds me, if you’re looking for another bonus bet here for this game, I’d definitely consider taking the over on two-minute penalties called. This is going to be a very emotional game.