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Edmonton Oilers to Roll Through Montreal

Habs Play Host to Oilers in Monday NHL

The surging Edmonton Oilers happen to be slight online betting underdogs against the Montreal Canadiens this Monday evening. This seems like a juicy offering from the BetUS online sportsbook as the Oilers have been the better team lately.

Montreal has won two of the previous three meetings this season, but both wins came early in the season when both teams were different. The Canadiens have a new coach, and Edmonton has transformed since a revitalized Mike Smith took over in net.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins defends against Brendan Gallagher Oilers at Canadiens
Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images/AFP

Oilers at Canadiens Betting Preview

Edmonton Oilers Gearing For Showdown

What a world of difference a great goaltender can make. Since Smith returned to the Oilers, the team has turned around. Since February 6, the team has allowed the fifth-fewest goals per game (2.29) and has the third-best goal differential at +26.

Smith is following up his forgettable 2020 with stellar play this year. He’s looking as great as his 2012 season with Arizona where he finished just outside the Vezina picture. Granted, he likely won’t sniff the award this season but he’s pushing Edmonton to realize its potential.

The Oilers have been red-hot in their last nine games. They’re 7-2 in this span and scored the most goals in the league with 36. However, the Oilers still have to figure out the Leafs. Toronto embarrassed them in their recent three-game series outscoring them 13 to 1.

Against all the other teams, Edmonton is 19-8-0 with a +26 goal differential. The Oilers would be Kings of the North had it not been for Toronto, and they can’t look past Montreal as they prepare for the rematch.

Montreal Canadiens Can’t Close

As Edmonton shreds through their opposition, the Montreal Canadiens are still trying to break out. Montreal has been frequently a favorite on the NHL betting lines but they’ve only won 11 out of 31 games thanks to a variety of issues.

Montreal has been one of the best 5-on-5 teams in the NHL. In fact, they lead the division in Corsi for percent at 55.5%. Only the Avalanche have a better ratio in the league. Special teams have been an on-and-off issue, but nothing too troubling.

The elephant in the room is crunch time. The Habs are 1-9 in extra time including being 0-6 in overtime. Leading to that, they have an even goal differential in the third when they have a +21 differential during the first two periods. Montreal is only 2-8-8 when either tied or trailing after two.

And it isn’t for lack of trying. Montreal has outshot its opponents by 58 in the third period. Maybe they’re snakebitten or they ran out of gas due to their high-pressure style. But the Habs need to close games better if they hope to re-establish themselves as contenders.

Betting Pick

Montreal lit up Edmonton during their first two meetings. The Habs embarrassed Mikko Koskinen the first time then thoroughly outplayed the team the second time.

The third and most recent game was a different story. Smith stonewalled Montreal despite the Habs once again outplaying the Oilers. It’s why Montreal is a favorite again despite the recent trends with both teams.

I’m not sure how long Smith will keep it up for the Oilers as he’s been the definition of inconsistent throughout his career. But even if “bad Mike Smith” shows up, Edmonton still has enough firepower to pull one over Montreal.

The kicker here is the third period. Montreal has issues putting games away in the third despite outshooting opponents. Edmonton is on the other boat. They’ve outscored opponents 38 to 33 in the third despite getting outshot. All things equal, I like for Edmonton to edge Montreal down the wire.

Pick: Edmonton Oilers to win

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