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Montreal Canadiens vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Prediction,
Preview,
and Odds - 8-1-2020

Game Snapshot with Current Line

#1 Montreal Canadiens
Canadiens 140
#2 Pittsburgh Penguins
Penguins -160

Saturday, August 1, 2020 at 8:00pm

Image licensed from USA Today Sports

Game Stats

Montreal Canadiens

31 - 40

31-40
ATS
33-35
O/U
2
PPG
3
OPPG

Pittsburgh Penguins

40 - 29

40-29
ATS
33-33
O/U
3
PPG
2
OPPG

The Eastern Conference best-of-5 Qualifying Round finally kicks off in Toronto, as the 5th-placed Pittsburgh Penguins take on the 12th-placed Montreal Canadiens.

Habs Start As Worst

Out of all teams participating in the postseason this year, the Montreal Canadiens are entering the competition as the worst one, finishing the regular campaign 24th in the whole league with a 31-31-9 record, a .500 points percentage and a minus-9 goal differential. The team ended up 5th in the Atlantic Division prior to the lockdown and was riding a three-game losing run (0-3-0), having dropped decisions against the Tampa Bay Lightning (4-0), Florida Panthers (4-1) and Nashville Predators (4-2). Tomas Tatar leads the Habs with 61 regular-season points this year, topping Montreal’s goalscoring chart with 22 markers alongside Brendan Gallagher (43 points).

Following 58 starts so far this season, goalie Carey Price has amassed a 27-25-6 record for the 2019-20 campaign with a 2.79 GAA and a .909 save percentage. He has picked up a 13-14-5 past tally against the Pittsburgh Penguins with a 2.95 GAA and a .907 save percentage. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the Habs were netting the 13th lowest quantity of goals per game (2.93), while giving up the 11th highest amount defensively (3.10). They were 22nd in power play (17.7%) and 19th in penalty kill (78.7%).

Pens Miss Out On Top Four

A 5th-place finish in the Eastern Conference and a 3rd-place position in the Metropolitan Division sees the Pittsburgh Penguins (40-23-6) miss out on a top-four placement in the new postseason format just by three points. The team ended the regular campaign with a 5-2 road victory over the New Jersey Devils, thus stopping a two-game skid (0-2-0), and had collected three victories in its past five outings (3-2-0) following a six-game losing run (0-6-0). Evgeni Malkin leads the Pens with 74 regular-season points this year (25 goals, 49 assists), while Bryan Rust (56 points) has buried the most goals (27).

Two-time Stanley Cup winner Matt Murray started 38 games in the net for the Penguins this season, posting a 20-11-5 total for the year with a 2.87 GAA and a .899 save percentage. He has registered a 4-1-0 career record against the Montreal Canadiens with a 2.19 GAA and a .921 save percentage. The Pens were scoring the 10th highest number of goals per game during the regular season (3.20), while allowing the 11th lowest quantity on the defensive end (2.84). They were 16th in power play (19.9%) and 8th in penalty kill (82.1%).

The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.

Full-Game Side Bet
Rating:

Injuries have been a constant problem for Pittsburgh this season, with the team ranking 4th in the whole league in man games lost (302). Still, the prolonged break due to the coronavirus lockdown has given the side enough time to return to its optimal squad and sees the Pens face off against the weakest opponent from all 24 teams participating in the postseason this year, with Montreal sitting 17 places and 15 points lower than Pittsburgh in NHL prior to the enforced hiatus. The Penguins warmed up for the first outing of their best-of-5 qualifier with a 3-2 overtime defeat to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday, while the Habs dropped a 4-2 decision versus the Toronto Maple Leafs on the same day, failing to convert on six power-play opportunities and allowing two shorthanded markers. Sidney Crosby failed to register a single shot on goal against the Flyers, but will be a threat to Montreal, having already banked 52 points (19 goals, 33 assists) in 40 career appearances against the Canadiens. A fit, rested and healthy Pittsburgh team is miles better than the Habs, who were sellers at the trade deadline and are probably still pinching themselves for making the postseason in most unusual circumstances. Montreal has already lost eight of its past 11 meetings with the Penguins and will most likely see the Pens sweep this series with ease.

Prediction: Pittsburgh Penguins (-165)

Full-Game Total Pick
Rating:

The Canadiens have allowed four goals in each of their past four games, including Tuesday’s exhibition matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Habs have not, however, been too impressive on the offensive end of the ice lately to cancel out their defensive vulnerability, averaging just a single goal per game in their last three competitive fixtures. Their past four head-to-head encounters with the Penguins have all also gone under the total, with three of them finishing with exactly five snipes on the scoresheet.

Prediction: Under 5.5

Valdis Pans

Valdis got his first ever article published when he was 13, and has rarely stopped. He has worked for FHM, MTV Baltics and has done loads of freelance (from columns for Cosmopolitan magazine to helping with organization of Macy Gray's shows in the Northern Europe). Speaks five different languages, loves pizza, American Horror Story and pipe organ music, and knows European soccer better than dates of his family members' birthdays. Is an avid fan of ice-hockey too. He is a Latvian after all...

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