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Nights like last night are a good lesson for somebody who likes to follow trends to make their picks. Trends can be useful if you are looking for specific ones, however they can change on a dime, and that is exactly what happened last night with the Tampa Bay Lightning. All signs pointed to the Lightning being red hot, scoring a ton of goals, and running over quality teams in the process. However, they managed to drop a 2-1 shootout decision to the second worst team in the Eastern Conference and one of the worst defensive teams in the league. Maybe the Lightning were due for a let down on back to back nights, however I don’t blame myself too much for taking Tampa as they were lighting the world on fire heading into that tilt. We also dropped our other pick last night as the Senators and Islanders skated to a 3-2 final score, thus sinking our over 5.5 pick on that one. A tough night indeed, however four games on tonight’s schedule provides me opportunity to get back on track.
Montreal Canadiens @ Minnesota Wild
My Pick – UNDER 5 (+110)
The Montreal Canadiens and Minnesota Wild rap up a mini two-game season series tonight in Minnesota after the Habs took the first game between the two clubs by a 4-1 count early in November. Carey Price made 31 of a possible 32 saves that evening, a typical start for one of the game’s best and certainly the backbone of this Montreal Canadiens team. With a team that, on paper, looks like they can score a bunch of goals, the Canadiens never seem to consistently score as much as other teams at the top of their respective conferences. The only legit scoring threat on most evening for the Habs is Max Pacioretty as the big forward has 12 on the year already after scoring 39 goals a year ago. After Pacioretty, the scoring is fairly balanced throughout the rest of the team and all told they score 2.5 goals per game. Their powerplay clicks at just 14.3%, again fairly surprising seeing as they have P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov on the blueline, two of the better powerplay defensemen the NHL has to offer. A Similar story exists in Minnesota as their powerplay unit is among the league’s worst with a 9.6% clip with the man advantage. A unit that boasts the likes of Zack Parise, Thomas Vanek and Ryan Suter has not been able to find any consistency this season, and a major part of that issue has to be Vanek as the former sniper has just two goals so far this season. Defence is the key for Minnesota as they give up just 2.35 goals per game and they kill penalties at an 88.7% clip, the second-best mark in the NHL behind only Chicago. Minnesota’s 7-2-1 home record indicates they play their best hockey on home ice, and their best hockey revolves around playing rock-solid defence. With Carey Price in goals for the Habs against a Wild team that is the epitome of defensive structure, I see a low-scoring affair this evening. Take the UNDER 5 at a nice price tonight and try to enjoy some defensive-minded hockey from the Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota.