NHL Daily Free Picks & Predictions
VegasInsider.com NHL expert Matt Blunt provides his score predictions and best bets for one NHL game on Monday Mar. 8, 2021.
Montreal vs. Vancouver
Money-Line Odds: Montreal -144; Vancouver +130
Total (Over-Under): 6
Score Prediction: Montreal 4 Vancouver 3
Best Bet: Over 6
Statistically the Canucks still have awful defensive numbers, but the team has to feel like they've got things turning in the right direction.
Four 'unders' connecting in the Canucks last five games has helped Vancouver improve on those league worst defensive numbers (xGA/60, etc), and holding the Leafs to a total of three goals in two games and sweeping Toronto out of town is an accomplished feat for any team to accomplish this year, let alone this Canucks defense. Recent results like that tends to see the market sell the bigger picture a little short though, and the Canadiens are no strangers to lighting up this Canucks defense.
Montreal's been working through their own problems of late, but 10 goals in two contests against Winnipeg, and outscoring their last foes 13-6 in their last three games is definitely a step in the right direction. Exploding for seven goals on Saturday was probably needed for Montreal right now, and was arguably the worst thing to see if you're the Canucks.
Montreal's scored at least five goals in all five of the games with Vancouver this year (Montreal is 4-1 SU), and any progress the Canucks have made on defense could be cast aside by one bad outing against a team that's made that outcome for Vancouver routine.
The 'over' is a perfect 5-0 in those five meetings this season, and while I'm never the biggest fan of riding a streak like that, Vancouver's recent defensive play is something I don't think you can trust to get consistently enough.
A few good games to the 'under' for Vancouver can make this head-to-head 'over' history with Montreal stand out even more, and the idea that there may be no better time to see the first 'under' between Montreal/Vancouver cash then now with how the Canucks have been playing defensively does make sense too.
However, Montreal's still in need to build upon Saturday's blowout win with all the shake-ups they've had in recent weeks, and they've still cashed 'over' tickets in four of their last six too. The Canucks can't reasonably expect that they'll continue to shutdown the top teams in this division, and winning games 4-3 are what they have experience with.
A Vancouver win wouldn't be the most surprising here, but with recency bias shaded towards Montreal having issues (on and off the ice) the past few weeks, and Vancouver's defense stepping up their play the past few weeks, I believe the 'over' is being sold a little short.
After the first meeting of the year closed with a total of a flat '6', three of the next four games all closed with a 6.5 line. The fact that there is no hook on this game and just juice on a flat '6' speaks to the recent play on both sides, but old habits die hard.
These two get to 3-3 and let the chips fall where they may afterwards.
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