Unfortunately I dropped my second straight pick last night as the Vancouver Canucks avoided elimination and lived to see at least one more game as their 2-1 Game 5 victory over the Flames last night kept them alive. I had the Flames to win this one and close out the series at a great price of +130 and at the halfway point of the game the Flames held a 1-0 lead and looked like they were going to be tough to score on once again. However, Nick Bonino scored with about seven minutes left in the second period and Daniel Sedin scored what would turn out to be the game winner under two minutes in to the third period and the Canucks were able to hold on for the win. Ryan Miller played better than I had expected going in to this game while Jonas Hiller was able to continue his stellar play. Sometimes giving up two goals in a playoff game is enough to earn a loss and that was this case on this night for Hiller and the Flames. I won’t dwell on the back-to-back losses for too long as they were both extremely close games and I just so happened to be on the wrong end of it which happens. Looking ahead to Friday night’s action we have three games on the slate with the Canadiens and Rangers looking to put the finishing touches on their respective opponents with both teams playing on home ice.
Ottawa Senators @ Montreal Canadiens
My Pick – UNDER (-120)
The Ottawa Senators survived a nail-biting Game 4 win on home ice Wednesday night as they were able to hold on and force a Game 5 tonight at the Bell Centre while trying to stay alive to see a Game 6 back at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa on Sunday night. After what was a wild Game 1 these two teams have seemed to settle in to the series and contrary to popular belief have focused on hockey rather than the distraction of the P.K. Subban/Mark Stone fiasco. Since Game 1 there have only been nine goals scored in this series over the last three games which of course equates to three goals per contest. Game 4 displayed just how much Montreal can struggle to score at times as they were shutout by Craig Anderson and he has now allowed just two goals against in two games this series since taking over for Andrew Hammond who came back to Earth a bit in these playoffs after a magical regular season run. After a shaky Game 1 Carey Price has returned to form as his goals against average now sits at 1.67 and his save percentage at .946. The frontrunner for the Vezina trophy has allowed just four goals over the last three games and deserved a better fate in Game 4 when he surrendered the only goal of the game. The Habs powerplay sits at a measly 6.2% in these playoffs and that is after ranking 23rd in the regular season so I don’t expect this to change dramatically moving forward. The Habs also ranked 20th in goal scoring this regular season with only 2.61 per game but allowed the fewest in the league at 2.24 per game. Certainly a nice formula for this pick. The Senators powerplay has also been quieted since scoring twice in the first game of the series as they have scored just once with the man advantage in seven tries since Game 1. The goaltending on both teams right now is playing out of this world and I don’t see why things would change tonight. I expect Ottawa to play a cautious game just as they did in Game 4 with their season on the line while the Habs always play a defensive-minded game while attempting to be opportunistic when they do get chances. Let’s stay confident in Carey Price and the recent brilliance of Craig Anderson tonight and take the UNDER 5 in what will still be a dandy matchup from the Bell Centre in Montreal.