NHL Hockey Betting: Montreal Canadiens at Buffalo Sabres

NHL Hockey Betting:  Montreal Canadiens at Buffalo Sabres&h=235&w=320&zc=1

The Montreal Canadiens start their 2016-2017 season on Thursday night as they head across the border to take on the Buffalo Sabres. The Habs are coming off of a disastrous season due in large part the injury struggles of goaltender Carey Price. Ironically, Price won’t be in net here–he’s reportedly suffering from a ‘flu bug’ meaning his return will have to wait. I won’t be surprised if he sits until the Habs home opener against Pittsburgh on 10/18. That will put well traveled veteran netminder Al Montoya in goal. Notably absent from the Canadiens’ goaltending depth chart is the guy that became the team’s starter in Price’s absence last year–Mike Condon. Condon did an admirable job when thrust into a difficult role as a rookie. His thanks was a trip to the waiver wire though he’s since been claimed by the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Buffalo will start Robin Lehner in net and although the mood around the Sabres’ team is generally positive there are a few ‘dark clouds’. Last year’s #2 overall draft pick Jack Eichel left practice on Wednesday after a nasty looking injury which has been diagnosed as a high ankle sprain. He’s out ‘indefinitely’ though it could have been much worse. The bad news–he could miss up to six weeks. It could also hurt the focus and enthusiasm of the entire team at the start of the season. Head coach Dan Blysma said that the injury ‘took the wind out of the arena’ and that’s not a good sign. Also injured is forward Kyle Okposo who signed a big free agent contract in the offseason though his injury isn’t serious and he could be back as early as Sunday.

Habs were awful on the road last year (16-25 -7.6 units) though Buffalo wasn’t any better at home (16-25 -7.6 units). The head to head series has been very competitive in recent years with Buffalo winning 5 of the last 9 head to head though Montreal has won 3 of the last 5 on the Sabres’ home ice. Montreal won 3 of 5 head to head last year including the last two meetings of the season by identical 3-2 scores at home on 3/10/16 and on the road on 3/16/16. Assuming that Price can avoid injury the Habs should bounce back nicely this year. Buffalo’s early season injury situation is unfortunate after a strong finish to the 2015-2016 campaign and that’ll put us on the road team.


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