Montreal Canadiens vs. Vegas Golden Knights Prediction: Game 5 Picks
Montreal Canadiens vs. Vegas Golden Knights Prediction
Series Tied 2-2
Nicolas Roy scored less than two minutes into overtime to help the Vegas Golden Knights even the series in game four. The Golden Knights will now return home to T-Mobile Arena in Sin City where they will look to take a key 3-2 series lead. Vegas is substantial favorites to win game five, currently sitting at -230 on the moneyline at most shops.
Despite what the oddsmakers are implying, this series has been evenly played. In fact, you can make the case that Montreal has been the better team.
Montreal has a 9.04 to 7.91 advantage in terms of expected goals in the series, which is good for an over 53% share. The Canadiens also have a 50-34 advantage in terms of high danger chances. Since game one, the Habs are out-scoring Vegas by a count of 7-6 at even strength.
Montreal was particularly good in game four, despite losing the game. The Canadiens posted a 59.8% expected goal rate. Montreal generated 17 high danger chances at 5-on-5. Additionally, they held the Golden Knights to just two high danger chances with both of those coming on the scramble surrounding the game-winning goal in overtime. Vegas had zero high danger chances through regulation.
However, Montreal had trouble solving Robin Lehner on offense. Brayden McNabb snuck a shot through Carey Price to tie the game and force overtime on a shot that Price stops most of the time.
While game four was impressive for the Habs and should give them hope, it also underlines the narratives in this series. There’s a wide belief that Montreal doesn’t have enough talent to keep up with the Golden Knights and that this series is a huge mismatch on paper. Critics will say the underlying metrics don’t matter as much if the discrepancy in talent is so large.
On the Vegas side, they were lucky to escape with the win and even the series.
Robin Lehner got the surprise start for the Golden Knights in game four, giving Marc-Andre Fleury a breather after Fleury’s blunder in game three cost Vegas that game. However, Lehner’s performance might have opened the door for a goaltending controversy.
Fleury has been tremendous all season, including these playoffs. He’s nominated for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goalie. However, entering the season, Lehner was expected to be Vegas’ number one goalie. A combination of injury to Lehner and Fleury’s sparkling play allowed Fleury to take over the reins during the regular season.
Lehner stepped into game four and stopped 27 of 28 shots to lead Vegas to victory. Can Vegas coach Pete Deboer go back to Fleury despite Lehner’s performance? The last image most hockey fans have of Fleury is his brutal turnover that allowed Montreal to tie the game in the final two minutes of game three before eventually winning it in overtime. Additionally, Fleury has a past history of struggling in the playoffs from his days in Pittsburgh. All of these factors make for an interesting decision for Deboer, and he leaves himself open to second guessing no matter which way he goes.
Vegas is a team known for their deep forward group, often getting contributions from the likes of Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, William Karlsson, Reilly Smith, Jonathan Marchessault, Alex Tuch and Mattias Janmark. However, in this series, they’ve been led offensively by their defense. Of Vegas’ ten goals, seven have been scored by defensemen. Alex Pietrangelo has three goals in the series while every defenseman not named Zach Whitecloud has also found the back of the net.
Thankfully for Vegas, help might be on the way offensively. Chandler Stephenson is nearing a return from injury and he should slot back in on the first line in between Stone and Pacioretty. In his absence, DeBoer has had to juggle and mix up lines which definitely impacts their chemistry and cohesion. Stephenson might not be a household name, but his speed is a needed element on Vegas’ top line.
Vegas remains a huge favorite to win this series and advance. On paper, you can’t really argue with that thesis. Despite Montreal’s ability to defend and Carey Price’s sensational postseason, Vegas has more elite talent across their skater group. Vegas also has two capable goaltenders who can lessen the impact of Price.
The value in this spot is definitely with Montreal if you’re looking to simply make the value pick here. However, I expect Vegas to win this game on home-ice and take a series lead. I’m not a real believer in this Canadiens team while I consider the Golden Knights one of the league’s elite teams.
Rather than lay -230 on the moneyline with the Golden Knights, I’ll back them to win in regulation. We’ve seen back-to-back overtime games in this series, so the odds of three straight games going to overtime is low. I think in front of the raucous crowd in Vegas, the Golden Knights get it done in the first 60 minutes.
Montreal Canadiens vs. Vegas Golden Knights Prediction: Vegas In Regulation -125