Rangers travel to meet Montreal Canadiens

By: David Schwab | Friday, January 14, 2011
Mike Cammalleri

Mike Cammalleri has five goals and eight assists in power play spots.

The New York Rangers will look to increase their lead over the Canadiens in the Eastern Conference when the two teams lock horns this Saturday at Montreal's Bell Centre. The puck drops in a 4 p.m. (PT) start and the game will be broadcast nationally on the NHL Network.

New York made it four wins in the last five games with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Vancouver on Thursday night. The only setback in the recent run was a 2-1 loss to Montreal as a 130 home favorite this past Tuesday. The solid start to the New Year has the Rangers in third place in the Atlantic Division standings, just four points behind Philadelphia with a total of 55 points. They are currently tied with Washington for fifth-place in the Eastern Conference standings.

The Rangers are 26-16-3 straight-up in their first 45 games and 22-23 against the spread. Center Brandon Dubinsky continues to lead the team in goals with 17 and assists with 21 for a total of 38 points. Marian Gaborik and Derek Stepan are tied for second in scoring with 24 points and Brian Boyle is second in goals with 14.

New York will never be known as an offensive juggernaut; averaging 2.78 goals per game, but it is ranked sixth in goals allowed; giving up an average of just 2.40 a game. Henrik Lundqvist has spent the majority of the time in goal with Martin Biron backing him up. Lundqvist has a goals-against-average of 2.25 and a .927 save percentage. He has given up a total of five goals in his last four starts and should get the call in this one.

Montreal followed up its win over the Rangers by getting blown out by Pittsburgh, 5-2, as a mild 108 home underdog the next night. Despite the setback, the Canadiens have also been playing well lately with four wins in their last six games. They have an overall record of 24-17-3 SU and are 22-22 ATS. Montreal finds itself just four points behind Boston in the Northeast Division with a total of 51 points. It is tied for seventh-place in the East with Atlanta.

Right winger Brian Gionta is the Canadiens leading goal scorer with 15, but Thomas Plekanec has been a force with 13 goals and 21 assists for a team-high 34 points. Defenseman James Wisniewski leads the team in assists with 23. Montreal’s goals per game average is even less than the Rangers at 2.46; ranking it 27th in the league.

The Habs are also one of the best defensive teams in the league; giving up an average of 2.39 goals per game, placing them right above New York with the fifth best average in the NHL. Carey Price has carried the load in goal this season with 39 starts in 44 games. He has a .919 save percentage and is giving up an average of 2.38 goals-per-game. Alex Auld has been solid in relief with a GGA of 1.74 in his five starts.

New York is 15-9 this season as an underdog and the total has stayed ‘under’ in 26 of its 45 games. Montreal is 13-9 as a favorite this year and the total has stayed ‘under’ in 26 of its 44 games.

Head-to-head, the Canadiens have won seven out of the last 10 games SU including victories in four of the last five games. The last time the Rangers won on the road was a 4-3 shootout in March of 2009. The total has gone ‘over’ in seven of the last 10 meetings, but has stayed ‘under’ in the last the last two.

This should be another hard-fought battle between two of the best defensive teams in the league just as it was earlier in the week. The solid play in this game could be the ‘under,’ but go with the Rangers as a mild road underdog to get the win this time around.

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