Montreal Canadiens vs. Florida Panthers - 1/6/14
Florida Panthers (16-20-6) at Montreal Canadiens (24-14-5)
NHL Hockey: Monday, January 6, 2014 at 7:30 pm (Bell Centre)
The Line: Montreal Canadiens -200 / Florida Panthers +181 --- Over/Under: 5.5 See the Latest Odds
The Panthers look to spoil the party at the Bell Centre while the Canadiens look to keep pace with the Bruins and Lightning atop the Atlantic division.
The Panthers are undoubtedly a team in transition and will likely undergo a serious roster overhaul over the next season or two and with the young talent they have on the roster already things are definitely bright for the future. However, for the time being it’ll call for some very long nights in Florida as the Cats will be used as league doormats and while they have played better than most anticipated this year they certainly aren’t a threat to make the playoffs. Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleks Barkov are two of the team’s bright spots and will certainly be cornerstones for the franchise for years to come but the supporting cast is quite weak and Tim Thomas doesn’t have a ton of help playing in front of him. However, Florida does seem to elevate their game when playing against the game’s best and while Montreal isn’t in the upper echelon of league powers they certainly are playoff contenders. Thomas gets the call in the crease as he goes up against Carey Price for Montreal.
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The Canadiens have surprised a lot of people with how well they have played this season as many thought this would be a step back scenario for Montreal but through the midway point of the season they sit in third place in their division and are in the mix for the playoffs. Montreal was ousted in the first round by the Senators last season and have seemingly used that defeat as motivation especially Price who is among the game’s best goaltenders and a contender for the Vezina Trophy. Montreal does have a pretty well balanced attack but they could use a couple pieces to push them over the edge which Is something I think they’ll do at the trade deadline. The Habs are very heavy favourites here and for good reason as they’re the better team but the line is way out of sorts here. Montreal has laid some eggs at home this year and always seem to get caught in letdown spots against weaker opponents and this position reeks of that. I am not confident that Florida wins but I do think they can keep it close and of they can force overtime that’ll be good enough for us.