Montreal at St. Louis – Full Game Preview

by Kevin Roberts
on December 6, 2016

It’s an East vs. West juggernaut matchup Tuesday when the Montreal Canadiens skate into St.Louis to take on the Blues. Montreal has looked like the powerhouse they were last year until .

The Habs’ net minder has helped carry the team to 17 wins so far this season, tied for most in the League. Known for their stingy western defense, St.Louis has bumped their offensive production up to 10th in the league this season, and should prove a strong test for Price and the Canadiens.

The Lines

Moneyline

  • Montreal (+105) at St.Louis (-135)

Spread

  • Montreal (+1.5) at St.Louis (-1.5)

Over/Under

  • Total (5.5)

At first glance, both the Moneyline and the Spread seem to basically give Montreal the advantage to playing on the road. Both teams are coming off one-goal games, so the spread of 1.5 in either direction feels like it favors Montreal. The Canadiens score 2.92 goals a game and the Blues find the back of the net 2.72 times a contest, so the Over/Under Total of 5.5 is right on the money. Before we decide where to place our hard-earned money let’s take a closer look at the matchup.

Offense

Neither team’s offensive production leaps off the page, but both are capable of finding the back of the net. Their goals per game mentioned above rank 8th (Montreal) and 11th (St.Louis), and they can thank their power plays for those numbers.

Montreal’s power play percentage is 22.8 with St.Louis just two teams behind them at 22.2. Any time a team can score on more than one out of every five chances with the extra man advantage, they’re going to be dangerous to play against. With both teams ranked 8th (Montreal) and 10th (St.Louis) in total penalty minutes this season, fans are going to be treated to both power plays. Often, it’s just a question of which one finds the back of the net more.

Leading Montreal’s power play is Shea Weber. Weber was traded for P.K. Subban this offseason in one of the most , and it seems to be paying off for the Habs. Weber is tied for the league lead in power play goals with seven already this season, and is a huge reason for the success of Montreal’s power play.

On the other side of the ice, The Blues are led by Vladimir Tarasenko. His five power play goals are good enough for a tie in the 8th spot amongst league leaders, and his 27 overall points trail only four other players. He’s still just 24 years old and is capable of whenever he steps foot onto the ice.

As far as superstars go, the Canadiens have few of their own on the offensive side of the pack. Alex Galchenyuk leads the team in scoring with a pedestrian 23 points, with Alexander Radulov right behind him at 21. She Weber (a defenseman let me remind you ) rounds out the top three in scoring with 18 points. This is good and bad news for Montreal. They don’t rely on one player to produce their scoring, but can find it hard to score against strong defensive teams.

St.Louis is a different beast. Their offense scores when Tarasenko does. His 27 points are eight more than the next player on his team (Kevin Shattenkirk) and no player other than Tarasenko has hit the 20 point plateau yet this season. Tarasenko leads the team in both goals and assists which is rarely a good sign for a balanced offense. Still, if he gets going, anyone else on this team is capable of finding the back of the net.

Defense

The biggest discrepancy between these two teams might be their defenses. Montreal ranks 6th in the NHL, allowing only 2.18 goals a game, while St.Louis comes in at 20th. The Blues let in 2.72 goals a game, more than a half goal difference from the visiting Habs.

The good news for the Blues – they can stop the power play. St.Louis’ penalty kill is operating at an astounding 87% success rate this season, an important tool against Montreal’s strong powerplay. The Canadiens stop just 80% of their opposition’s power plays, and while seven percent may not seem like a huge discrepancy, it drops Montreal’s penalty kill all the way to 20th.

Both teams have difference makers on this side of the puck, but no one that jumps off the page as the best in the league. The aforementioned Shea Weber still has one of the but his speed is slowing down while his age is climbing up. Alex Pietrangelo is excellent for the Blues, and his 14 points on the season prove he can handle some offensive duties as well, but these two teams owe their success so far to these guys:

The Goalies

Before we write a love poem on just how good Carey Price has been for Montreal this season, some credit needs to be given to Jake Allen. Allen has 12 wins on the season, and is 9-0-2 in his last 11 starts with a sparkling goals against average of .932. He is quietly turning into one of the most important Blues players outside of Tarasenko, and anchors this team night in and night out. He doesn’t play as much as some of the other goalies in the league, but that trend is about to change. He’s as hot as a goalie can get this season and should be a problem for Montreal;s lack of creative offense.

The only problem for Allen? Carey Price. It will be tough to stand out against the best goalie in the NHL, but if there’s any time to do it, it may be this game. Price is coming off arguably his worst showing of the season, when he gave up four goals on 31 shots, but he’s still a Vezina and Hart Trophy winner who is in the top 10 of every conceivable goalie stat this season, and makes . Good Luck.

The Picks

Despite how good Montreal has been this season, a five game road trip is tough for anyone to handle. That game ends tonight, against a team that’s ending their five game homestand. The Blues are 3-0-1 so far on that stand, and show no signs of slowing down, especially given hoe strong Jake Allen has been playing.

We recommend taking the St.Louis Moneyline, the St.Louis spread, and the under, as both teams will find it hard to score tonight.
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