NHL: Montreal Canadiens and Chicago Blackhawks aiming to keep pace
We’re a few weeks into the new NHL season and all four divisions are beginning to take shape. In the North division, the Montreal Canadiens are looking to keep on the coattails of the Toronto Maple Leafs. We will take a look at a selection of this week’s games, including the Chicago Bluehawks v the Colombus Blue Jackets, and assess the odds and injury news.
Canadiens trying to keep things tight at the back for Oilers visit
At this early stage of the season, the Canadiens have already been quite leaky at the back and at the time of writing, they had conceded 31 goals. However, their goal difference is rather healthy (+17) and they have lost just two of 12 games to date. They are yet to lose at home this season, which is a big fillip.
The Oilers occupy third spot in the Scotia North division, but they have played three more games than the Canadiens. Having beaten the Maple Leafs last month in a seven-goal thriller, the Oilers have chalked up three wins from their past four outings. Zack Kassian has been placed on injury reserve after picking up an undisclosed injury in the victory over the Ottawa Senators.
- Montreal Canadiens to beat Edmonton Oilers @+115 with Casumo
- Edmonton Oilers to beat Montreal Canadiens @+195 with Casumo
Canadiens looking to extend good record against the Oilers
Overall, the Canadiens boast a good record against the Oilers. In 91 meetings, the Canadiens have come out on top 43 times. Indeed, the Canadiens have dominated recent clashes against the Oilers, scoring 12 times in their past three encounters for the loss of four goals. A 5-1 mauling over the Oilers last month was an undoubted highlight of the Canadiens’ NHL campaign to date.
New York Islanders can derail Pittsburgh Penguins
While there is only a single point between these two franchises, the Islanders have been in fine fettle. Last week, the Islanders beat the Penguins 4-3, and the Islanders kept out local rivals New York Rangers with a 2-0 win. Goaltender Semyon Varlamov produced 30 saves and Barry Trotz racked up his 850th coaching win — the third highest in the NHL of all time.
Are Penguins at a crossroads ahead of Islanders meeting?
For a highly vaunted side like the Penguins who won the Stanley Cup in 2017, this season has been a bit hit-and-miss. The Penguins’ record this season is 5-5-1, but they have shipped more goals (41) than they have scored (33). And they have lost three of their past four games, which shows a side struggling for form.
Islanders v Penguins: Past matches and latest injury news
The Islanders v the Penguins is one of the most storied fixtures in the NHL East Division. Indeed, there have been 256 meetings to date and the Islanders nudge the head-to-head record. The Islanders have come out on top 112 times, while the Penguins have notched up 104 wins and there have been 22 ties.
Yet if we look at more recent clashes, this is one that could go either way. The Islanders, as previously mentioned, came out on top last weekend. On the injury front, Anthony Beauvillier remains sidelined. With the Penguins, they have a bigger treatment table. However, one positive note for them is that Marcus Pettersson is inching closer to a return to action.
- New York Islanders to beat Pittsburgh Penguins @+145 with Casumo
- Pittsburgh Penguins to beat New York Islanders @+155 with Casumo
As far as the Islanders are concerned, Trotz’s milestone win came in his 1,685th NHL game as head coach, and he surpassed Ken Hitchcock, who enjoyed a decorated career. Asked for his thoughts, Trotz said: “To be in the same breath as those guys like Hitch and people like that, it’s sort of humbling when I think about it.”
Blackhawks firing on all cylinders ahead of Blue Jackets test
The Blackhawks are gathering momentum and a 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars took their record to 6-4-4 this term. For Madison Bowey, it was a debut to remember, and he had a team-high 69.98 expected goal percentage. However, in the second period against the Stars, the Blackhawks managed just a meagre two shots through the first 13 minutes.
The Blackhawks are trading as favorites with Casumo at +135, whereas the Blue Jackets are priced at +163. But there was some controversy for the Blue Jackets this week after the head coach John Tortorella benched Patrik Laine during the game against the Carolina Hurricanes. When asked for his thoughts, he said: “It was the last thing I wanted to do.”