NHL Game Preview: Montreal Canadiens vs. Vancouver Canucks

Walker DanielsCorrespondent IFebruary 21, 2011

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Online Sportsbook Overview

The Montreal Canadiens do not visit the Vancouver Canucks very often and, considering the way each team is playing right now, the Canadiens would have probably preferred to postpone this visit as well. As March Madness betting lurks around the corner and the trade deadline NHL players wonder about is just about here, the Montreal Canadiens find themselves struggling a bit. After losing the Heritage Classic to the Calgary Flames 4-0, the Canadiens now have to take the ice against the best team in the league in Vancouver.

The price per head smart money is on the Vancouver Canucks to dominate the league in the regular season. Once the season is over, the odds surrounding the Canucks will change dramatically. But this is still the regular season, and the Canucks are putting together a season that could be one of the best that the franchise has ever seen.

Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks have an overall record of 38-13-9. They lead the Western Conference standings by five points over the Detroit Red Wings, and lead the Philadelphia Flyers in the race for the President’s Trophy by two points. In their last 10 games, the Canucks are 7-3-0 and have been interrupting two and three-game winning streaks with the occasional loss here and there.

At home, the Canucks are 21-4-5. That means that no team is as good on their own ice as the Vancouver Canucks. Vancouver’s four home losses are the lowest in the league, and their 21 home wins are the highest in the league. The Canucks’ plus-60 goal differential is also the widest margin of any team in the NHL. On their own ice, in the regular season, the Canucks are almost impossible to beat.

Montreal Canadiens

The Canadiens’ most recent loss to the Flames in the Heritage Classic drops Montreal’s road record to 12-15-1. Montreal and Carolina are the only two playoff teams, at this point in the season, in the entire league with losing road records. Goaltender Carey Price has been wildly inconsistent this season, and he is currently riding a downward trend.

In their last 10 games, the Canadiens are 4-4-2 with a two-game losing streak. Not coincidentally, their losing streak started with their first game of this Western road trip against the lowly Edmonton Oilers. The Canadiens are just not a good team on the road, and that will cause them problems in this game and in the playoffs.

The Bottom Line

On paper, this game is no contest. The Canucks are too strong at home and the Canadiens are too weak on the road. Normally, sports experts are supposed to point out that the games are not played on paper. But, in this case, the numbers speak volumes about how this game will actually turn out. Montreal will need to provide more protection for Carey Price and figure out how to get the puck past Roberto Luongo to win this game. To this point, almost nobody has been able to figure out how to do that in Vancouver.

Pick: Vancouver Canucks