NHL Qualifying Round Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Montreal Canadiens

While we’re still a ways off from the restart of the NHL season, we do know who will face off in the qualifying round of the playoffs. Those series are a best of five series with the winners advancing to the normal field of 16 teams for the start of what most people consider the actual postseason. With that in mind, we’ll take a look at each series in the qualifying round and give our thoughts on the matter, along with the best options when it comes to placing bets on each series. We start with the 5/12 matchup in the Eastern Conference as the Pittsburgh Penguins take on the Montreal Canadiens.

#5 Pittsburgh Penguins (40-23-6, 86 points) vs. #12 Montreal Canadiens (31-31-9, 71 points)

Head to Head Matchups:

December 10, 2019: Montreal 4, Pittsburgh 1

January 4, 2020: Pittsburgh 3, Montreal 2 (OT)

February 14, 2020: Pittsburgh 4, Montreal 1

Series Odds According to VegasInsider.com:

Odds to Win the Series: Pittsburgh -205, Montreal +166

Odds For Total Games in the Series: 3 Games (+240), 4 Games (+150), 5 Games (+160)

Odds for Actual Series Result: Pittsburgh 3-0 (+360), Pittsburgh 3-1 (+260), Pittsburgh 3-2 (+330), Montreal 3-0 (+1000), Montreal 3-1 (+550), Montreal 3-2 (+490)

Team Statistics:

Pittsburgh: 3.20 goals per game for (10th), 2.64 goals per game against (tied for 11th), 19.9% power play percentage (16th), 82.1% penalty killing (tied for 8th)

Montreal: 2.93 goals per game for (19th), 3.10 goals per game against (tied for 19th), 17.7% power play percentage (22nd), 78.7% penalty killing (19th)

Team Leaders:


Points: Evgeni Malkin 74, Goals: Bryan Rust 27, Assists: Malkin 49

Goalie Wins: Tristan Jarry/Matt Murray 20, GAA: Jarry 2.43, Shutouts: Jarry 3, Save %: Jarry .921


Points; Tomas Tatar 61, Goals: Tatar/Brendan Gallagher 22, Assists: Tatar 39

Goalie Wins: Carey Price 27, GAA: Price 2.79, Shutouts: Price 4, Save %: Price .909


Montreal has to consider themselves fortunate to make the postseason thanks to this expanded field as the team was well off the pace for the final playoff spot when the league went on pause. The Canadiens were a mediocre team in all facets and it’s going to be an uphill battle for them to get things going, especially after a long layoff. Montreal will have to be concerned about Max Domi, who is at an elevated risk for complications from COVID-19 due to being diabetic. One will have to see if he takes the ice or not. The Canadiens don’t have a ton of proven commodities offensively with Tatar and Gallagher the only players to crack the 20-goal plateau. Price had an inconsistent season this year and he’ll have to find a higher gear if Montreal is going to pull any kind of upset In the series.

Pittsburgh battled through a slew of injuries during the season. Sidney Crosby played only 41 games in the regular season while Jake Guentzel logged only 39 before suffering a shoulder injury that was expected to knock him out four to six months. The layoff will help those two be back to full speed and ready to go for the postseason and that would bolster the Penguins’ forward group. It should help out in the power play department as the more options you have that can be dangerous, the better. Crosby had 47 points in his shortened season of work while Guentzel had potted 20 goals and added 23 assists. Jason Zucker had six goals and six assists in 15 games after coming over from Minnesota in a trade-deadline deal.

The goaltending situation will be interesting to see how it plays out for Pittsburgh. Jarry and Murray each won 20 games with Murray appearing in 38 games and Jarry 33. With that said, Jarry had better numbers, especially in the save percentage department, and finished with more shutouts. Pittsburgh did struggle down the stretch, losing eight of their final 11 regular season games, which helped them get bumped down the standings in the Metropolitan Division. The Penguins scored two goals or less in seven of those games but one has to think that getting some of their key contributors back to full speed will help in that department.

Montreal considers itself fortunate to make the postseason and it’s going to take some work and grit to try and shake up an experienced Pittsburgh squad. The Canadiens are rather weak in the offensive firepower department and that’s not the kind of thing you want against a Penguins team that has a terrific top-six forward group headlined by a pair of future Hall of Famers. Price is going to have to play out of his mind to keep Montreal in the series. The Canadiens are going to have to hope that the Penguins’ struggles down the stretch carries over here in order to have much of a shot. Montreal may win one in the series but that’s about as far as they can go. Pittsburgh takes the series and advances to the actual field of 16 as they try to chase down a Stanley Cup.


Pittsburgh Penguins to Win Series -205

Pittsburgh to Win Series in 4 Games +260

Series to Go 4 Games +150

Author Profile
Chris King

Chris King has been immersed in the world of professional and collegiate sports for more than three decades. Whether it's playing pickup games or being involved in organized sports to being a fan, he's checked all the boxes. From the NFL to arena football, the NHL to the KHL, the NBA to the WNBA to college hoops, and even MLB to the KBO. If it's out there, he's covered it and bet on it as well, as Chris has been an expert bettor in his career. Before joining Winners and Whiners back in 2015, his work appeared around the internet and in print. He's written books for Ruckus Books about college basketball, the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, golf, and the World Cup. If you're looking for the inside track on hitting a winner, do yourself a favor and read what Chris has to say.