The Philadelphia Flyers cruised through three round-robin games to land the No. 1 seed in the East, earning the right to take on the Montreal Canadiens in the conference quarterfinals beginning on Wednesday.
For its part, Montreal did well just to get to this point. After finishing 12th in the standings, the Canadiens knocked out the Pittsburgh Penguins in a big qualifier round upset. Will the Habs continue to capitalize on their season getting new life, or will Philly assert its dominance and make quick work of this series?
In abe Insights' preview, we'll take a closer look at Game 1's best odds, analyze how wagers should trend for the main bets and provide some advanced stats, along with more relevant information to enhance your betting experience.
Date: Wednesday, August 12
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Canadiens 42%; Flyers 59%
Spread: MTL +1.5 (-200); PHI -1.5 (+200)
Moneyline: MTL +140; PHI -143
One of the Flyers' key forwards, Jakub Voracek, missed the last round-robin game, but he'll be back in action for Philadelphia in Game 1. That makes the job even more difficult for Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, who's the biggest beacon of hope for Montreal.
Price is simply an elite goalie, and will have to hold his own opposite a prodigious counterpart in Carter Hart. The Flyers netminder turns 22 on Thursday, yet plays wise beyond his years to complement the Orange and Black's elite offensive attack.
69 vs. 61: If you're going to live bet, wait until the first intermission. Philadelphia lapped the Canadiens in scoring over the final two periods in 2019-20, yet these totals show Montreal's edge over the Flyers in first-period goals. A quick start will be key for the Habs.
1.47 vs. -0.38: To focus more on recent form, these are the goal differentials for both clubs following the All-Star break. Philly's was easily the best in all of hockey, and the Canadiens weren't nearly as good on the way to a 9-12 record to close the regular season.
24.2 vs. 10.0: Finally, we have the power play percentages since the All-Star break for Philadelphia and Montreal respectively. The Flyers ranked eighth in the NHL, and the Canadiens were in last place among 31 teams.
Here's a bonus stat to supplement those last numbers to know: these two teams have been a combined 0-for-23 on the power play in the postseason. Philadelphia had 11 of those attempts in three games, so the Flyers are drawing plenty of penalties, yet aren't capitalizing.
Even without success on the man advantage, the Flyers outscored the other top three East seeds in the round robin tournament by a score of 11-3. That doesn't bode well for Montreal, although the underdogs managed just fine against a similarly dangerous, scoring-centric team from Pennsylvania in the previous playoff round.
Much of the credit goes to Price for keeping the Penguins in check. He posted a 3-1 record with a 1.67 GAA, keeping the Canadiens in striking distance and giving them confidence they could break through. Price capped off the qualifier round with a 2-0, 22-save shutout, as the defense in front of him rose to the occasion.
To even have a chance against the Flyers in Game 1 and beyond, it's going to take a similar backchecking effort from Habs forwards and continued stellar play from their blue line rotation. Price can't do it all on his own, especially if Montreal can't add scoring support versus Hart.
Hard to count out the Canadiens based on how resilient they've been lately, but given how hot Philadelphia has been through the end of the 2019-20 campaign and in the round-robin tournament, look for wagers to trend on the Flyers' spread and moneyline.
The goal total is industry standard for the NHL. While it seems suspect to bet the Under given how explosive Philly's attack is, the presence of Price and Hart in opposing nets should drive the action that way.
Note: Odds current as of 1:10 p.m. ET on Wednesday, August 12.
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