NHL betting returns as the Pittsburgh Penguins battle the Montreal Canadiens in a Qualifying Round matchup to determine which team will advance to the NHL playoffs. Oddsmakers have the Penguins as big -220 favorites to win this series, while the Canadiens are listed at +170 to pull off the upset.
We break down NHL odds as we bring you picks and predictions for the play-in series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Montreal Canadiens.
Penguins vs Canadiens Qualifying Round Odds
|Team||Odds to win the series|
Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup Odds +1,400
The Penguins are likely a little disappointed to be playing in the Qualifying Round at all. However, they lost eight of their last 11 games leading up to the COVID-19 shutdown, while the Philadelphia Flyers won nine of the last 10 to leapfrong past the Pens in the standings — and guarantee a Stanley Cup Playoffs appearance.
That said, these are still the Penguins you know, powered by Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. This year's Pens have been a little more inconsistent than we are used to, but they are a strong two-way hockey club, ranking 10th in scoring and 12th in goals allowed per game.
Pittsburgh will also get a huge boost as rising star Jake Guentzel hopes to be back in action against Montreal. The 25-year-old forward had 43 points in 39 games this season before shoulder surgery in late December shut him down. If he can continue his early-season performance, and goaltender Matt Murray can find his playoff form, the Pens will be tough to beat in any series.
Pittsburgh Penguins betting trends
- The Penguins rank fourth in the NHL with seven wins when trailing after the second period.
- The Penguins allow the fifth-fewest shots against per game (29.7) in the NHL.
- The Penguins have permitted the fourth-fewest power-play goals (34) in the league.
Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup Odds +5,000
The Canadiens rank dead last out of the 24 teams invited to the re-worked playoff format. The Habs were an infuriating team for their fans this season, as it seemed like every other week they would go on a three-game winning streak, but then follow it up with a four-or-five game losing streak. Before the shutdown, they managed just four wins over their final 14 games — talk about backing into the playoffs.
Whether it’s scoring goals or closing games, the biggest problem for the Canadiens is that they struggle to finish. Montreal ranks second in the league shots taken, but 19th in goals per game. And they rank 25th in the league in wins when scoring first.
As always, goaltender Carey Price is the backbone of the team. The Habs goalie is having a down year by his standards, with a 2.79 GAA and .909 save percentage, but he has stood up against a barrage of shots this season — 1,755 to be exact. That’s the second-most in the NHL, just behind the Jets’ Connor Hellebuyck, and it’s 150 more shots faced than the next goalie on the list.
Montreal Canadiens betting trends
- The Canadiens rank 22nd in the NHL power-play scoring percentage (17.7%).
- The Canadiens rank third in the NHL with eight wins when trailing after the first period.
- The Canadiens rank sixth in first-period scoring, but 19th and 25th in second and third-period scoring.
Penguins vs Canadiens Head-to-Head Comparison
|Pittsburgh Penguins||Tale of the Tape||Montreal Canadiens|
|3.20||Goals Per Game||2.93|
|2.84||Goals Allowed Per Game||3.10|
|19.9||Power Play Percentage||17.7|
|82.1||Penalty Kill Percentage||78.7|
Penguins vs Canadiens Picks and Predictions
Series Prediction: Pittsburgh Penguins -220 – Hockey is the sport where it isn’t that surprising to see a big underdog pull off an upset in the opening round, and the Canadiens will have a chance here because they have Carey Price. If he can get hot and stand on his head, he can take over a short best-of-five series.
But it just doesn’t seem wise to fade the Penguins in this spot, even with the juice. Pittsburgh won two of the three meetings with the Habs this season, but it’s more than that: The Pens are the more complete team with a ton of depth at center. To make things tougher on the Habs, Max Domi’s status is uncertain since he is at higher risk for COVID-19 complications due to his diabetes.
But the biggest difference is of course experience. This Penguins team knows what it takes to win. They have Stanley Cup-winning DNA and should be too much for this inconsistent Habs team to overcome.
More NHL Qualifying Round picks and predictions
Under the NHL's special return to play format, there are eight best-of-five Qualifying Round matchups preceding the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Check out our best picks and predictions for all the other series that are scheduled to take place when NHL action resumes:
- Edmonton Oilers vs. Chicago Blackhawks
- Nashville Predators vs. Arizona Coyotes
- Vancouver Canucks vs. Minnesota Wild
- Calgary Flames vs. Winnipeg Jets
- Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Rangers
- New York Islanders vs. Florida Panthers
- Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Where can I bet on NHL Playoffs odds?
Most online books and casinos offer bets on the Stanley Cup Playoffs and should offer odds on this special Qualifying Round. Check out the best sportsbooks available where you live and see what they are offering for NHL Playoffs odds.