Montreal Canadiens (31-21-6) at Carolina Hurricanes (25-21-9)
|Date & Time||Saturday February 8, 2014, 6:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Carolina Hurricanes -105 / Montreal Canadiens -105 --- Over/Under: 5
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The Canadiens look to keep pace in the Atlantic division as they head to Raleigh on Saturday for a date with the surging Hurricanes.
The Canadiens have been right in the mix in the Atlantic division all season long and while they have rarely held form at the top of the division they haven`t been too far behind the Bruins and Lightning at any point and can trim the deficit to six with a win over Carolina in this one. Much of the success for the Canadiens this season has come from the play of Carey Price in goal as the Olympian has a 2.36 goals against average this season and is certainly in contention with a handful of others for the Vezina Trophy as the game`s top net minder. However, Montreal does have a balanced lineup that can alter its game plan based on their opponent and that is a huge plus for a team looking to shake off last season`s abysmal playoff collapse. Montreal heads into Raleigh as winners of two straight but were struggling mightily before that stretch and face a Hurricanes team who is rounding into form.
The Hurricanes are finally starting to play like the team that many expected would be an Eastern Conference power house as they have won seven of their last 10 games and have climbed into the race in the Metropolitan division. While it is a story of the Penguins and then the rest in the lackluster Metro unit the Canes are certainly making a charge at the Flyers for the third and final automatic entry out of the division and are just three points back of the Red Wings for seventh. The emergence of Anton Khudobin in the Carolina crease has been a very nice story as the career backup has emerged into a legitimate number one option and in the absence of Cam Ward, Khudobin`s play has meant that much more. To me these teams are very even despite Montreal leading the Canes by seven points and the line reflects it as we are getting even money here which to some people would mean jumping on the Canadiens and moving on but to be honest this is a great spot for Carolina. They are the home team getting solid value and I think they have more offensive weapons than the Canadiens which makes the difference here.