Hockey is back and here at Pucking Hockey we are more excited than ever! With three games on tap to open the season we have our first NHL predictions of the new season between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens.
The Toronto Maple Leafs did something they have not done since 2005 and that was make the NHL playoffs last season. What looked like a sure thing in game 7 against the Boston Bruins the Maple Leafs watched a commanding lead slip away in the final minutes of the game. Where they eventually lost in overtime and had to watch the Bruins advance all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.
A sickening pain that stuck with the Leafs and me, considering our top rated NHL pick of the quarterfinals was with the Leafs advancing in game 7. But this is a new season for the Maple Leafs with new expectations. Nothing short of a deep playoff run.
In the off-season the Leafs went out and signed free agents David Clarkson (who will not play in this match-up due to a suspension) and David Bolland. They also went out and traded for goaltender Jonathan Bernier. Who I believe is the next best goalie in the NHL.
What looks like a solid team in paper, only time will tell if the Maple Leafs are the real deal and not just a team that benefited from a short 48 game season last year.
Shifting to the other side of the ice, the Montreal Canadiens will open their season at home with this intense rivalry.
Montreal is coming off an ugly first round playoff loss at the hands of the Ottawa Senators who absolutely pasted the Habs as the seven seed in the East leaving Canadiens brass scrambling for answers. Although this came to a surprise by many, I actually had the Senators upsetting the Habs.
The Canadiens went out and added some much needed scoring depth acquiring Daniel Briere from the Philadelphia Flyers, as well as bringing in some help on the blue line in the form of Douglas Murray (who is sidelined 4-6 weeks with an injury), and some grit by signing George Parros. And being a Flyers fan I have seen veteran players leave Philly just to go elsewhere and some how make it to the Stanley Cup Finals. So there is hope for you Montreal fans.
But the biggest key for a successful season will be the play of Carey Price. The 2014 Winter Olympics are set to kick off in February and Team Canada is looking for a goaltender. In my opinion this is the year Carey Price plays his best season ever and starts for Team Canada.
The Habs lost their season opener at home against Toronto last season but like I have said before, last year’s 48 game season meant nothing to me and will not mean a thing when it comes to trends. Just erase last season from your memories, you will be better off.
I expect a low scoring. gritty, lots of fighting, style game but Carey Price will be the difference maker leading his team to victory. Take the Habs at -135 odds for $100
Montreal Canadiesn -135 (to win $100)
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