Top NHL Betting Picks for Canadiens vs. Golden Knights: Game 1 (6/14)

The third round of the Stanley Cup playoffs is underway, and Monday brings us a matchup between two red hot teams. The Montreal Canadiens enter on a seven-game winning streak. At the same time, the Vegas Golden Knights just finished off the Stanley Cup favorite Colorado Avalanche after winning four straight to close out the series.

The Knights are a heavy (-500) series favorite as sportsbooks and sharp bettors have little to no faith in the Canadiens (+375) to win the series.

Below we’ll analyze the best bets for Game 1 of this supposed lopsided series.

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Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

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Montreal Canadiens (+220) vs. Vegas Golden Knights (-265)

Part of the reason Montreal has gotten this far is due to a solid defensive structure and four solid lines. But their main contributor has been the man between the pipes. Carey Price has carried his team to the tune of a .935 save percentage and 5.6 GSAA en route to capturing the North Division title and a spot in the playoff semifinals.

Offensively, Tyler Toffoli leads the ‘Habs in postseason scoring with ten points in eleven games. The prized free agent has been a boon for this team that struggles offensively at times and provides a boost on the power play, as well.

Other unsung heroes that make this team tick is defensive wizard Phillip Danault, and the man everybody loves to hate, Corey Perry – whose veteran presence and gritty playing style will be needed against this vaunted Golden Knights squad.

Vegas is built similarly to Montreal with four solid lines and a world-class goaltender, albeit with more top-end skill. Marc-Andre Fleury comes into Game 1 with a .923 save percentage and 1.4 GSAA, frequently bailing his team out in the series against Colorado.

Mark Stone continues to be the best two-way winger in the NHL after holding superstar Nathan Mackinnon to just three assists in the final five games after his offensive explosion in the series opener.

The Knights’ second line has been on fire as William Karlsson leads the team with eleven postseason points and Jonathan Marchessault registering a team-high six goals. Defensively, they’re led by Alex Pietrangelo and shot-blocking machine Alec Martinez.

Surprisingly, the Canadiens have been better on Special Teams these playoffs, converting 18.8% of their power play opportunities to the Knights’14.3%. Additionally, they’re killing penalties at a 90.3% clip – the best postseason rate.

Below, we’ll analyze how these team’s matchup analytically 5v5 based on their playoff performances to date:

Number’s courtesy of Natural Stat Trick

CF%: 49.59 (MTL) 54.32 (VGK)
GF/60: 1.75 (MTL) 2.81 (VGK)
GA/60: 1.75 (MTL) 1.99 (VGK)
xGF%: 50.01 (MTL) 56.78 (VGK)
HDCF%: 50.57 (MTL) 54.95 (VGK)

The above advanced statistics tell us that Vegas has a significant advantage in nearly every category. Due to their deep roster and top-tier talent, this is no fluke.

However, I believe Montreal will prove a tougher test than the masses believe and odds imply. They will neutralize the Knights’ goaltending advantage and look to continue their prowess on special teams. They may not have a bonafide superstar, but all four lines are truly talented.

The Canadiens have won both series openers this postseason, and I believe they’ll be up to the challenge once again – proving to the hockey world that they belong in the spotlight.

Betting Picks: Montreal Canadiens (+220)

.5u: Montreal Canadiens to win series (+375)

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