Vancouver opened as -125 moneyline (ML) favorites for this matchup. However, since then, it was announced Montreal’s best goalie at the moment (Andrew Hammond) will not be available tonight.
The market response was swift, as sharps pounced at the opportunity to fade MTL backup Sam Montembeault (6-11-4, 3.66 GAA, 0.897 SV%) by backing Vancouver ML. The resulting price movement saw VAN ML steam down as low as -230 before settling back at around -215 consensus odds at time of writing.
I understand why the market moved, but is the size of the shift justified? Personally, I’m not buying it. I agree with the move directionally but feel the size of the shift was an overreaction.
I get that Montembault’s season-long numbers stink, but did the market forget he’s coming off an impressive 28-save performance vs. one of the most lethal offenses on the planet, the Edmonton Oilers? He’s now held 5 of his last 7 opponents to 2 goals or less, including high-scoring teams like STL, TOR, CBJ and most recently EDM.
Also, did the market forget that this matchup historically plays very close?
- 4 of their last 5 meetings settled as 1 goal games.
- 3 of the 5 games required overtime or shootout.
- All 5 matchups happened within the last calendar year.
I’m putting less weight into this next stat since the rosters have changed up, but since 2017, MTL is 9-0 vs. a hypothetical +1.5 spread as a visitor in Vancouver.
My hesitation to back MTL on the moneyline relates to my respect for Vancouver starting goaltender, Thatcher Demko (25-16-2, 2.63 GAA, 0.917 SV%). He’s having a fantastic year, and I expect a strong bounce back performance from him at home tonight after he surrendered 4 goals in Toronto on Saturday.
I do expect this to play very close, though, and feel the right choice is to back MTL on the puck line (i.e. spread) at a very reasonable price.
To close this section… I’ll leave you with a rhetorical question: Can you name a type of team more dangerous than a motivated underdog with a new coach that won 7 of its last 8 outright and has a chance to spoil a rival’s playoff hopes in their own building?