Montreal Canadiens (38-16-5) at St. Louis Blues (38-17-4)
|Date & Time||Tuesday February 24, 2015, 8:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: St. Louis Blues -155 / Montreal Canadiens +140 --- Over/Under: 5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
The Montreal Canadiens look to increase their conference lead on Tuesday night when they travel to St. Louis to take on the Blues. Montreal is a point ahead of the New York Islanders for the first overall spot in the Eastern Conference and their division lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning looks better than the one point it currently is when you consider their three points in hand. Compared to some other teams in the league this season Montreal’s home ice advantage doesn’t even look that overwhelming, but locking up home ice advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs at the Bell Centre might just be enough to push the Canadiens over that last hump that they couldn’t get over last season. After a rare stretch of consecutive losses the Canadiens got back to their winning ways on Saturday night with the Columbus Blue Jackets in town. Max Pacioretty provided all the offense that Montreal would need in the first period. His first of the night came 2:29 into the opening frame with the Canadiens on the power play, and his second of the night and 29th of the season came at 13:03 to give the home squad a 2-0 lead. Columbus would get a goal right back a minute later but Carey Price did the rest of the work as the Canadiens held on for a 3-1 win. Tomas Plekanec finished the scoring with an empty net goal in the third period. This is going to be a big test for the Canadiens on Tuesday night as they travel to the Scottrade Center where the Blues have been extremely good this season. The Blues are not only one of the best teams in the league but they’re 22-7-2 on home ice this year.
St. Louis is still trying to keep pace with the Nashville Predators but some bouts of inconsistency have slowed that recently. The Blues head into this contest with Montreal having lost two of their last three games with a 5-1 drubbing of the Boston Bruins sandwiched in between. Saturday night they were thoroughly outplayed by a Pittsburgh Penguins club that had really been struggling. Brian Elliot surrendered a first period goal to Blake Comeau and then the Penguins came out dominated the second period en route to a 3-0 lead. Dmitrij Jaskin’s ninth goal of the season got the Blues on the board by but that time it was already too late. Ian Cole added his fourth of the season late in the 4-2 loss. It was not a pretty effort from the Blues in this one and it’s something that has been a bit of a problem lately. This club loves to play defensive hockey but right now they’re just not generating enough in the offensive end. The five goals registered against the Bruins came on a total of just 15 shots that allowed them to sit back and play passive. It’s understood that teams have a certain identity but the Blues have not had much success in the post season despite their regular season efforts. St. Louis needs to find a way to really control games more and dominate possession if they want to make a lengthy run this year.
This should be a fun one between two of the better teams in the league but the Blues are a surprising heavy favorite. St. Louis will be looking to make up for that lackluster performance on Saturday night but for value’s sake alone the Canadiens are the play in this one.