The hockey spotlight will be on Boston on New Year’s Day when the Bruins play host to the Montreal Canadiens in this season’s NHL Winter Classic.
While the matchup has been billed as a clash of long-time rivals, the Canadiens will be more concerned with ending their current slide. The Habs have gone down to defeat in 11 of their past 13 contests, knocking them from top spot in the Atlantic Division standings and plummeting their odds to win the Stanley Cup to 20/1 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
It has been a tale of two seasons for Montreal, who kicked off their campaign with nine straight victories, lifting them to the top of the NHL standings as recently as early December and briefly positioning them as Stanley Cup betting favorites with odds as short as 15/2.
But with star goaltender Carey Price and forward Brendan Gallagher both sidelined by injury, Montreal has struggled on both sides of the puck, going 4-12 in 16 games ahead of Friday afternoon’s Canadiens vs. Bruins betting matchup at Gillette Stadium, and held to two or fewer goals in 13 of those contests including seven of their last eight.
The Bruins, meanwhile, have battled inconsistency throughout the first half of the NHL season, enduring a trio of three-game losing streaks so far, their most recent slide just ending with Tuesday night’s 7-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators.
Despite their sometimes spotty play Boston has emerged as somewhat of a surprise contender in the Atlantic, entering the new year with 44 points, good for third place in the divisional standings, just one point back of the Habs with three games in hand.
The Bruins’ play has paid dividends at the sportsbooks, where they join Montreal at 20/1 on the Stanley Cup odds after opening the season at 25/1 on those NHL futures.
Boston is just 4-4 in its past eight home contests according to the OddsShark NHL Database but was victorious in its most recent meeting with the Habs, picking up a 3-1 win at the Bell Centre three weeks ago. That ended a string of eight straight losses to Montreal.
While the Bruins have surrendered 12 total goals over their past three outings they have received standout goaltending from starter Tuukka Rask, who has surrendered more than two goals just once in the past month, driving the total UNDER in 10 of the Bruins’ last 14 contests for totals bettors.