The February 25th NHL free pick definitely means more to one team as the Canadiens sit in the top seed for the Eastern Conference wild card while New Jersey is 7 points off the worst record in the league. Montreal isn’t as big of a favorite as you’d think Monday however, being listed at just -147. The Habs have been atrocious on the road lately but New Jersey has been sub-par wherever they play. Which way does this pick go?
Canadiens Looking Bad on the Road Lately
Overall Montreal is in a solid spot in the wild card lead in the East. That being said, they need to star playing better – especially on the road – if they want to hold on to that spot for the last 20+ games of the season. Montreal has dropped four straight road contests being outscored 7-18 in the process. Granted it was a tough gauntlet of teams that the Habs have faced over that span including Nashville (+137), Tampa Bay (+187), Florida (+121), and Toronto (+167). The Devils are a whole different animal than those teams.
At the very least the Canadiens seem to have been finding their offense as of late. Except for a 2-game stretch where they scored a combined 1 goal on 2/14 and 2/16, Montreal has netted 3+ in 8 of 10. Rookie Jesper Kotkaniemi has 3 points the last 3 games to lead a balanced Canadiens attack. Max Domi has also put together a 4-game point streak. If the Canadiens offense continues to be productive, it will be Carey Price’s job to limit the New Jersey attack. Price is just 2-4 over his last 6, but he’s been solid three games of 2 or less goals allowed in the last four.
Has New Jersey Moved on To 2019/2020?
The New Jersey Devils are obviously sellers as the trade deadline comes and goes on Monday. The already traded D Ben Lovejoy to Dallas over the weekend. Their most significant move of the day was trading veteran goaltender Keith Kincaid to Columbus to make way for net minding prodigy Mackenzie Blackwood who was called up to replace Kincaid Monday. It’s still Cory Schneider that’s probable in goal for New Jersey in the February 25th NHL free pick however. Schneider has won 3 of his last 4 appearances and prior to Saturday’s 2-5 loss to the Rangers, had given up just 1 goal in the last 3 games (80 shots).
Believe it or not the New Jersey offense has been competent lately. It really isn’t a bad unit overall ranking 17th in the league in scoring but the Devils have scored 4+ goals in 3 of the last 5. Nico Hischier was shut out of the scoring sheet for three straight games, but did dish out a helper Saturday vs. the Rangers. Travis Zajac has 4 points in 4 games to lead the 2nd line and give NJ scoring options.
February 25th NHL Free Pick Betting
The Canadiens have been playing bad on the road – but have also been up against stellar competition. New Jersey is one of the worst teams in the league, but is also a 16-10-4 team on their own ice. Wagers are about 60/40 on the Canadiens but the value is on New Jersey on their own ice and with a goaltender who has been pretty solid lately manning the net.
NHL Free Pick: New Jersey Devils +125