NHL Betting Preview: Canadiens at NY Rangers

By: Barry Daniels | Thursday, March 17, 2011

Montreal looks to make it 4-0 against the Rangers in New York on Friday.

An Original Six matchup will be on display Friday night at Madison Square Garden when the New York Rangers meet the Montreal Canadiens for the fourth time this season. The puck drops at 4 p.m. (PT).

Montreal has had little trouble with the Rangers so far, winning all three matchups while allowing the New Yorkers just three goals. The ‘under’ is 2-0-1 in the three meetings, with all three games having a five-goal closing total.

The first get-together took place on Jan. 11, with the Canadiens registering a 2-1 victory as 120 road underdogs. Both squads were 0-for-2 on the power play, with the Habs out-shooting the Rangers, 38-26.

Four days later, Montreal edged the Rangers 3-2 as 120 home favorites. The Canadiens went 2-for-4 with the man advantage, while the Rangers went 0-for-4. Montreal again outshot New York, 41-33.

The most recent meeting (Feb. 5) saw Montreal register a 2-0 victory as a 125 home favorite. Both clubs failed to score with the extra attacker, with the Rangers getting four chances and Montreal receiving two. The Rangers outshot the Habs this time, 35-29, but are now 0-for-10 on the power play against Montreal.

Jacques Martin’s Canadiens must play this contest after hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning the night before. The Habs are 5-7 in the second half of back-to-back games.

Prior to Thursday’s outing, the Habs suffered a 4-2 loss against Washington on Tuesday as 120 home favorites. The loss lowered Montreal’s ledger to 38-25-4-3 and left the club in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 83 points. The Habs are 13 games above .500 despite outscoring the opposition by just 10 goals (186-176).

Though the combined six goals in Tuesday’s outing skipped ‘over’ the five-goal closing total, the ‘under’ is still 39-22-9 in Montreal’s first 70 overall encounters. The ‘under’ is also a strong 25-7-2 in the club’s first 34 road dates.

Tuesday’s loss was particularly painful for the Habs because two of their centers left the game with lower body injuries. Jeff Halpern and Tomas Plekanec are both listed as “questionable” on the Don Best Sports injury report. Defenseman Hall Gill is also “questionable” with the flu.

Carey Price stopped 37-of-41 Washington shots in a losing effort. Price is now 33-23-4-2 with a 2.32 GAA, a .924 save percentage and eight shutouts.

The Rangers off Tuesday’s 6-3 victory against the Islanders as 155 home favorites. The win evened the Rangers ledger at Madison Square Garden to 16-16-1-2, which is considerably poorer than their 21-14-1-0 road record.

The win gave the Rangers 78 points and allowed them to stay two points ahead of the Buffalo Sabres for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

The combined nine goals soared above the 5 ½-goal closing total, leaving the ‘over’ 8-3-1 in the Rangers’ last 12 home dates. However, the ‘under’ is still 40-27-4 in New York’s first 71 overall outings.

Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves for the Rangers to notch the victory. He is now 29-24-2-2 with a 2.34 GAA, a .921 save percentage and nine shutouts.

Though the Rangers scored three times with the man advantage against the Islanders, they are just 15th on the power play with a 17.7 percent success rate.

Most of the Rangers success this season has derived from a seventh-ranked defense that is yielding an average of just 2.4 goals per game. The club’s nine shutouts are second-best in the NHL.

Montreal stays on the road by traveling to Minnesota for a Saturday matchup against the Wild. The Rangers make a trip to Pittsburgh for a Saturday showdown against the Penguins.

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