Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:51 AM

NHL Best Bets, Score Predictions for Wednesday Apr. 7

NHL Daily Free Picks & Predictions NHL expert Matt Blunt provides his score predictions and best bets for one NHL game on Wednesday, Apr. 7, 2021.

Montreal Canadiens vs Toronto Maple Leafs

  • Money-Line Odds: Montreal +125; Toronto -143
  • Total (Over-Under): 6

Score Prediction: Montreal 4 Toronto 3

Best Bet: Canadiens ML

Montreal holds the final playoff spot in the North Division by eight points over Vancouver and Calgary entering play on Wednesday, and with Vancouver on an extended pause right now, and Montreal still having five games in hand on Calgary, these next couple of weeks are huge for Montreal in regards to solidifying their playoff position.

Chances are they'll end up getting in anyways as Calgary's got the look of a team that's just about ready to punt on this season, while Vancouver won't be playing any hockey any time soon, and how likely are they to close the gap when making up their schedule later on with games nearly every night.

So really, the concern in Montreal isn't completely about simply making the playoffs, it's about improving that positioning as well. The Canadiens have four games in hand on each of the three teams they are chasing (Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton), and in order for any of those three rivals to really take Montreal seriously in a month or so, the Habs have got to start beating the top two teams (Toronto, Winnipeg) when they've got them on the schedule. Montreal is 1-3 SU vs Toronto this year, and 2-4 SU against Winnipeg.

It's the former that's on the schedule for Montreal tonight, and chances are they'll be up against Toronto's undefeated netminder Jack Campbell here.

Campbell owns a 9-0 SU record between the pipes for this season, as he's just the next name in a long line Toronto backup netminders that get hot for an extended period of time and spark goalie debates within Toronto's fan base and the mainstream media. There is no denying that Campbell has been great between the pipes in his nine starts, but he's not going to win every start this year.

Toronto winning seven of eight is a tough run to step in front of, but Montreal's on a 4-1 SU run as well (Toronto's 4-1 SU in last five games), and to come back from a 2-0 deficit entering the 3rd period on Monday night was rather impressive. It came at the right time of the season, against the right team Montreal is trying to chase down (Edmonton), and it adds to the confidence for Montreal heading into a very critical stretch of their schedule.

Montreal's got six straight at home after this road game in Toronto, but the next three games after this one see them hosting Winnipeg twice, before welcoming in the Leafs for another contest. Get through this stretch of four tough games against the division's best with at least a .500 record if you're Montreal, and the closing stretch of the homestand (two vs Calgary, one vs Ottawa) likely becomes a lot less stressful.

It's time to deal with the stress now though if you're Montreal, and it's that sense of urgency that I think we get from the Canadiens tonight, ultimately turning them into a very live underdog. In general, Toronto's always going to get plenty of support, and the longer this undefeated run goes for Campbell, the more the market will look to ride the Leafs with him in net.

But this is the first game back at home after a five-game road trip out west that saw the Leafs go 4-1 SU overall and gain at least a point in the standings in all five games. They swept two-game sets with Winnipeg and that dysfunctional Calgary team to conclude the trip, and because of it, I believe there is real potential for this to be an ugly flat spot for the Leafs.

The same level of urgency isn't going to be there for Toronto with a six point lead in the standings, and with three of their next four at home (including tonight) with Calgary and Ottawa apart of that mix, sustaining that gap between themselves and the rest of the division shouldn't be a difficult task for Toronto.

Despite all their talent and youth, the Leafs are still on a 8-17 SU run when playing their third game in four nights, and are 1-4 SU the last time it's been four in six for this team. Those numbers suggest that Toronto can be prone to taking a “night off” here or there, and knowing where they sit in the standings, not having to deal with Carey Price (in all likelihood) tonight, and happy to return home, this is an easy fade spot of the Leafs for me tonight.

Montreal's recent form has been strong enough to think they'll get their second win over Toronto this year, and if it's Jake Allen in net for the Habs, Toronto's yet to see him either. That's a statement that could end up going either way in the result column as Campbell has yet to see Montreal as well, but with Montreal priced as the dog with Toronto in an overall tough spot to boot, backing Montreal to win tonight is the side I'll be standing on.

After all, Montreal's also 5-2 SU the last seven times they've been priced as a road dog. Maybe proving to themselves they can consistently beat the teams ahead of them in the standings has been a mantra in that Canadiens dressing room for awhile now. Getting one over on Toronto would be the next notch in that belt.

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