The goaltenders were the headliners when this series kicked off Monday. Two of the best of the last decade, Carey Price and Marc-Andre Fleury, have seemingly turned back the clock and put their respective teams on their shoulders for much of the playoffs.
Both lived up to the hype in Game 1 as well. Fleury had one of the better games of any goaltender this postseason, making big save after big save to protect the Golden Knights’ lead. Despite giving up four goals, Price made a few key and acrobatic saves to keep the contest within striking distance early.
Montreal actually had some dominating spurts in the opening game, but it wasn’t enough, as they fell 4-1. Playing well in that raucous environment and still coming up three goals short can be demoralizing, so how do we attack Game 2 from a wagering perspective?
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Vegas Golden Knights vs. Montreal Canadiens: Game 2 (VGK Leads 1-0)
If the Golden Knights keep putting four goals past Price, this will be a quick series. If Fleury saves 3.4 goals above expectation every night as he did in Game 1, this is going to be a quick series.
If both happen, the Knights might sweep.
Montreal had the slight edge in expected goals, but that’s about the only category where they came out on top in Game 1. Vegas has a Corsi For of 57.83%. They attempted 55.81% of the shots, owned 57.58% of the scoring chances and 55.56% of the high-danger chances. The Canadiens had a clear plan right from the opening faceoff: get under the Golden Knights’ skin. Clearly, it didn’t work. I don’t think it’s going to work tonight either, especially since Vegas expects it and had no problem combatting this approach Monday.
The Canadiens also looked shell-shocked by the crowd’s intensity. They proudly wore their poker faces early on, but that cracked once the Knights opened up a lead. The crowd noise at T-Mobile Arena clearly affected Montreal and helped put a lid on any potential comeback. Tonight won’t be any easier. In fact, it may be more difficult. Golden Knights fans are riding high after a Game 1 win, and they want to send their team north of the border with an unblemished record in the series.
Another trend that jumped off the screen was how Montreal’s style of offense played right into Fleury’s strengths. The Canadiens don’t have a ton of playmakers. They want to create traffic in front of the crease and slam home as many gritty, greasy goals as they can. In Game 1, Fleury would have none of it. Look at this shot chart, and look at all the chances Fleury stone-walled right outside the blue paint:
Prior to last night, Marc-Andre Fleury saved 4.7 goals above expectation, good for 4th among playoff goaltenders. He's been fantastic.
Last night alone, he saved 3.4 above expectation. Brilliant performance. This map of #GoHabsGo scoring chances is somethin' else. #VegasBorn pic.twitter.com/5K1wmo4gDr
— Mike Wagenman (@mjwags23) June 15, 2021
With the Golden Knights sitting at -250 on the moneyline, and with the total already down to five with heavy juice on the over, there really isn’t much betting value left. My favorite way to attack this game is live. If the Canadiens jump out to an early lead, or if this is a deadlock after the first period, I’d look to play the Golden Knights live down to -150 or so.
If you’d rather place a wager prior to puck drop, take Vegas on the 60-minute line at -150. Vegas has won five in a row at home and is 6-2 at T-Mobile Arena this playoff. I expect the strong home performances to continue.
The Pick: Golden Knights 60-Minute Line (-150)
Alternate Option: Golden Knights Live (-150 or better)
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Mike Wagenman is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter @mjwags23.
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