These games are hard to pick. On the one hand, we have a team who already locked up the division and who’s only goal is exactly what I was talking about in my last NHL blog: get to the playoffs with no (more) injuries. On the other hand, we have a hot Lightning squad in do-or-die mode as they fight to earn a spot in the playoffs. Montreal already lost Emelin the other night for who knows how long, and have Shea Weber watching from the bench with a non-serious injury as well, so they can’t afford to lose anyone else. Again, Emelin is by no means a shutdown defender, but he was a top 4 defender on the team. I understand that too much rest can sometimes backfire in hockey, but if Claude Julien has an IQ above that of the average third grader then he’s not playing anyone in the top 2 lines for more than 15-20 minutes, especially if the Lightning start getting scrappy and physical. The only reason Price is even starting in net is to keep him sharp for the playoff series against the Rangers before he gets his rest tomorrow. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Montreal mail this game in and pull Price if the Lightning have a 2 or more goal lead going into the third period. We could however, see the Lightning’s top line get over 30 minutes in this game. All trends and stats get thrown out the window for a game like this. The Canadiens are still solid top to bottom, so I don’t see it turning into a blowout either way.
For these reasons, the boys at Seeking Cover don’t have a consensus pick to give you, but I’m personally confident in taking the Lightning ML here.
Picture taken from: https://puckinghockey.com/lightning-vs-canadiens-prediction-10-27-16/