Canadiens vs. Golden Knights - Game 2 NHL Picks
The NHL playoffs continue on Wednesday with the Vegas Golden Knights playing host to the Montreal Canadiens in game two of their semi-final series.
Vegas leads 1-0.
This probably isn’t going to be a fun series to bet.
Vegas entered the series as nearly -500 favorites to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. Despite a relatively evenly played game in the series opener, the Vegas Golden Knights came out with a 4-1 win as -270 favorites.
Montreal actually had a 1.94 - 1.90 expected goal advantage at 5-on-5. The high danger chances were relatively even with Vegas holding a 10-8 edge. The shots on goal favored Vegas by a count of 30-29. Despite the underlying metrics suggesting a close game, it really wasn’t.
One thing is for certain: if Carey Price is outplayed by Marc-Andre Fleury, Montreal has no chance and this will be a very quick series. That’s exactly what happened in game one.
Montreal came out with some good scoring chances, but Fleury made some good saves to keep them off the board. The Canadiens deserved to score the opening goal, but due to Fleury, they weren’t able to. Shea Theodore ended up opening the score for Vegas on a shot from the point that eluded Price.
Fleury ended up posting a +3.4 goals saved above expectation in the opener and the only blemish on his record was a powerplay goal from Cole Caufield. On the other hand, Price was pedestrian at best. He posted a -1.44 goals saved above expectation and stopped under 87% of the shots he faced from Vegas.
Vegas’ depth has been the story for them throughout the season, and it was on full display in game one. They got a goal from the third line when Mattias Janmark and Alex Tuch combined. They also got three goals from defensemen with both top lines on the ice for those goals. A lot has been made of Montreal’s depth throughout these playoffs, but Vegas has more high-end talent and they’re deeper.
It’s hard to envision Montreal scoring much in this series. Mark Stone is one of the best two-way forwards in the league. Vegas also has a solid blueline with Theodore, Alec Martinez, Alex Pietrangelo, Nick Holden, Brayden McNabb and Zach Whitecloud. We already know what kind of goaltender Fleury is.
Montreal is the only team remaining in these playoffs scoring less than three goals per game. In fact, they’re scoring just 2.42 goals per game. Contrarily, Vegas is the stingiest team remaining in these playoffs, allowing their opponents to score just 2.29 goals per game.
Vegas might have their way in this series, but I expect Carey Price to keep the games close. He wasn’t particularly strong in the opener, but he has a +7.2 goals saved above expectation in these playoffs and has stopped nearly 93% of the shots he’s faced. Price has developed a reputation as a big game goalie, so I don’t expect Vegas to continue to score four a night.
With the Golden Knights listed as prohibitive favorites again in game two, I wouldn’t back them here. Montreal is the team with value, but if you’re going to blindly bet the big underdog in this series, you might end up miserable every night. Therefore, I’d look towards the total. Montreal should continue to struggle to score and Price should have a better performance in game two. I think we see a low scoring affair.
The Pick: Under 5.5 @ -148 (Click to bet)