Philadelphia Flyers vs. Montreal Canadiens: NHL Picks & Odds
BET: Flyers Moneyline @ -134
Game five spiced this series up from every angle possible. First and foremost, Montreal won the game by a score of 5-3 to force a game six. In addition to the series being extended and tightening up, the physical play increased big time.
Matt Niskanen cross-checked Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher in the face, breaking the forward’s jaw. Gallagher will miss the remainder of the series and Niskanen is being suspended for game six. In addition, Sean Couturier threw a cheap hit on Arturri Lehkonen after Montreal scored an empty net goal.
Coach Alain Vigneault of the Flyers has not had a good series from a media point of view either. He openly complained that the Canadiens used their top powerplay unit in game two’s 5-0 blowout. He made comments about the Gallagher hit saying “he looked like he was fine” and “it was just a hockey play.” In hindsight, these comments are moronic since Gallagher is injured and Niskanen is suspended.
Who does a chippier series benefit? It has to be Philadelphia which is a bigger team overall. Philadelphia has always been known as a team that plays with a chip on their shoulder and isn’t afraid of getting dirty. Montreal on the other hand has a reputation of being a softer skilled speedy team.
Brendan Gallagher is also a huge loss for Montreal. Gallagher is their best scoring option at 5on5. Montreal is already a team that struggles to score so losing arguably their best forward is something they cannot afford to do.
The weirdest part of this series is that Montreal has been the better team in every single game. Carter Hart has been unreal for most of the series, keeping the Flyers afloat. Montreal’s lack of finishing ability is the difference in this series.
I don’t expect Montreal’s scoring ability to improve without Gallagher. I think if this series gets chippy, Philadelphia has more veteran players who are better equipped to handle the emotions of such a game. It’s hard to go against the team that usually deserves the win, but there’s a reason they finished the regular season in 12th. Montreal has been a pesky bunch in these playoffs, but I think their run ends on Friday.
BET: Blues Moneyline @ -132
Vancouver did well to stop the momentum of the St. Louis Blues in game five. It was the Canucks best performance in this series thus far. For the first time, they edged out the Blues in categories such as expected goals, high danger chances and shot attempts. Was this a one-off or is it a sign of improvement?
The Blues have been the better team in this series, and at times it hasn’t been close. The reason that Vancouver came out to a 2-0 lead was the ineffective goaltending the Blues received from Jordan Binnington. Binnington got beat 9 times on 47 shots in the first two games of this series. St. Louis made the change to Jake Allen who helped them get back into the series.
In addition, Vancouver scored 5 times on 8 powerplay opportunities in the first two games of this series. Vancouver’s man advantage is good, but not that good.
So what can we expect in game six? I think we need to lean on the team that has been through this. The Blues are coming off a Stanley Cup win where they experienced fending off elimination and having their backs against the wall. Vancouver is a young team making their first appearance in the postseason. They’ve never eliminated a team at the level of the Blues before.
St. Louis has proven that they are capable of controlling play in this series. Their concerns come on special teams and in net. It’ll be interesting to see if Jordan Binnington gets his net back. Allen got the Blues back in the series but he struggled in game five. Binnington got this team a Stanley Cup, so he probably gets the benefit of the doubt.
I expect Binnington to bounce back if he gets the call. I also expect the series to revert to the first four games where the Blues controlled play. No other series has gone seven games. I think this one will. I expect St. Louis to even the series here in game six.