Florida Panthers vs. Montreal Canadiens - 12/29/13
Montreal Canadiens (22-13-3) at Florida Panthers (14-19-5)
NHL Hockey: Sunday, December 29, 2013 at 5:00 pm (BB&T Center)
The Line: Florida Panthers +119 / Montreal Canadiens -131 --- Over/Under: 5 See the Latest Odds
The Canadiens look for a Florida sweep on Sunday as they travel from Tampa Bay to Sunrise looking to hand the Panthers another loss.
Montreal exacted revenge on Saturday night as they dealt the Lightning a 2-1 shootout loss a month after the Bolts dealt the Habs a similar fate the last time the clubs met in Montreal. With the victory, the Canadiens moved to within a single point of the Lightning in the Atlantic division and they can leapfrog them with a win against the Panthers on Sunday. Carey Price was exceptional as usual in the Montreal victory as he continues to assert himself as the front runner for the Canadian Olympic starter’s role but he will likely be a spectator in this one as Petr Budaj will get the call against an underwhelming Panthers team. The Habs have a ton of offensive talent that has broken through this season namely in the form of Max Pacioretty who is on pace for a career season but the likes of Tomas Plekanec, Brendan Gallagher, and Alex Galchenyuk are all playing well as are defensemen PK Subban and Alexei Emelin. As a result the Canadiens are knocking on the door in their division and have asserted themselves as a playoff contender.
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The Panthers meanwhile have struggled since the puck dropped in October but the expectations for this team were at an all time low just two years removed from winning the Southeast division. Florida is in the midst of a transition as they stockpile young talent they have acquired via the entry draft and with an absence of veteran leadership and talent it is clear that management is undergoing a youth movement. Jonathan Huberdeau is undoubtedly the future of this team as is youngster Alex Barkov but unfortunately for the Cats they won’t be able to cheer for another couple of seasons as they work out the kinks and start from the ground up. This is a tough spot for them despite not having to face Carey Price as Budaj is more than a capable backup and was once a starter in this league and I think that shows here. Despite coming off a big win last night I still think the Canadiens are the play here.