With the NHL returning on August 1, the action is starting to pick up on gambling sites around the world. Lines are going up on who is going to win, in how many games, and so forth. Sports Interaction has added some juice to the gambling component. Along with the series prices and props, all eight series’ have top point scorer bets as well as head-to-head matchups with a wager of “who will score more points in the series? Player A or player B.” We here at Last Word on Hockey will be looking at all eight qualifying round matchups from a gambling perspective. Today we will be looking at the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins and where you can make your money.
Qualifying Round Matchup: Montreal Canadiens v. Pittsburgh Penguins
Ever since this qualifying matchup was announced, everyone has been talking about how the Canadiens can pull off the massive upset over the Penguins. At +172 to outright win, the series is a good number, if you really are all in on the upset look at +376 for the Canadiens to win in five. But I just can’t see it, even with Carey Price in net for Montreal. Yes, a hot goalie can steal a team a series, but at most Price will steal a game.
The Penguins have too much firepower up front with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, a healthy Jake Guentzel. Who do the Canadiens have? Brendan Gallagher. No offence to Gallagher, but he does not scare a team like the Penguins. And Pittsburgh should not be scared of a Montreal team that lost to the Detroit Red Wings four times in 2019–20. That is why I like the Penguins to the series at -194, but to do it in four games at +285.
Top Point Scorer
To no one’s surprise Malkin (+150) and Crosby (+170) are favourites to lead the series in scoring. Do not be shocked if one of them leads the entire qualifying round in scoring. The first time Montreal Canadiens player that is listed is Tomas Tatar (+900). It is easy to go with the favourites, but if you want to try to win some real money look off the board.
Jake Guentzel +555
Jake “the Snake” as he is referred to has a flair for the playoffs. When the lights shine the brightest, Guentzel steps up. With the Canadiens occupied by Crosby and Malkin, Guentzel has the chance to lead the series in scoring if not the entire qualifying round. Outside of last year, Guentzel recorded back to back 21-point playoff seasons.
Jason Zucker +1100
Jason Zucker is a wild card in this series. Zucker has the ability to go off, especially playing on the same line as Malkin. We saw what that did for players like Phil Kessel and James Neal. Even his linemate Bryan Rust at +1000 is a good play.
Max Domi +1600
Outside of Tatar, I think Max Domi is a smart play. Domi was the third-leading scorer on the team during the regular season. He packs an offensively punch and seeing the bright lights for the first time will raise Domi’s game to another level.
Not So Fast
Jonathan Drouin +1700
For whatever reason, things have not worked out for Jonathan Drouin in Montreal. He has shown flashes of brilliance, but never seem to be that scoring threat he was coming out of juniors with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Although he had 14 points during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, I’m staying away from him. While the +1700 looks like a sneaky play, avoid it. You will be wasting money here.
If you are looking for a lock for this series take Jake Guentzel over Tomas Tatar. With all the focus on Crosby and Malkin, Guentzel will have a break out series. Another matchup that I like is Kris Letang over Shea Weber at +110. Crosby and Malkin are too much of a push for my liking.
Jake Guentzel over Tomas Tatar -125
Since coming into the league, Guentzel is averaging a point a game in the playoffs. It is a no brainer to take him over Tatar who averages .36 points per game. Granted Guentzel has made deeper runs in the playoffs, but Tatar never can find that magic in the playoffs.
Kris Letang over Shea Weber +125
It’s an interesting style clash here on defence. Letang is a more offensive-minded defenceman while Weber is more defence-oriented. Letang has averaged .60 points per game in the playoffs, while Weber averaged .47 points per game. Weber has that big bomb from the point, but Letang is an essential part of the Penguins offence. I like Letang here.
While some people think an upset will happen between the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins, the numbers do not say it will. Given the Price factor, place a full unit on the Penguins to win in four games at +285, with a .25 unit on the series ending in game four at +140. Outside of Crosby and Malkin to lead the series in scoring, look to place a .50 unit on Guentzel at +555. Also, take as many Penguins as you can.
The choice is yours and yours alone. But we are here to guide through this difficult process. Again this is for entertainment purposes only. Nothing guaranteed, and please enjoy responsibly.
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