Montreal Canadiens – New York Rangers
We’re down to the final four vying to be named 2014 Stanley Cup Champions, and both of these clubs are looking to take that final step into the Finals after each being put out at this stage in the last five years.
Between them in the previous round they upset the two clubs who contested the Prince of Wales trophy last year so the East will have a fresher representative than it might have seemed a week or so ago. It's a tough one to call when both clubs can claim to be well balanced and at 1.85 to 1.92 in Montreal's favour the odds agree it's not an easy decision.
The goaltending duel is a rematch of the Olympic final a few months ago with Henrik Lundqvist and Carey Price expected to feature heavily as headline-makers. Montreal's man came out on top on that occasion and considering what's happened in the playoffs so far is likely to have the easier time of it, the Canadiens are averaging the most goals of any team to feature this postseason made even more impressive by the teams they've had to get past.
That being said the Rangers have slowly been ramping up their own attacking threat when it's mattered and their powerplay is finally threatening, judging by the spread of goals throughout each lineup there's no blatant units the other needs to negate.
You wouldn't necessarily get that impression from their three regular season meetings where the net was found just four times across those 180 minutes and the losing side was always shutout. It's an equal split at 1.88 for under/over the 4.5 total goal line and the will to get off to a positive start should make overs the better option. In the players specials one man hitting form is Canadiens winger Max Pacioretty and he's available for 3.00 to score anytime.
It doesn't take a genius to predict that Bell Centre will produce a pulsating atmosphere tonight but with little to separate them at the moment that rightfully gives Montreal the edge to win.
I like their chances of winning the series too based on the fact I believe they've beaten stronger opponents to get here and the added gamebreaking talent on their roster.
Best Bet: Montreal Canadiens to win at 2.30.