As the semifinal round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs marches on, fans all over the globe are ready for the semifinal round to produce a Stanley Cup Finalist. As we inch closer to the final two, the remaining four teams are maximizing their efforts just to try and advance to the final round. In this article, we have our NHL bets pick for this Friday, June 18th. Will the Vegas Golden Knights get home ice back and defeat the Montreal Canadiens in Game 3?
|Vegas Golden Knights||-160||-160||-165||-165||-160|
On Wednesday, the Vegas Golden Knights expected to have a better effort in Game 2 after falling flat early in Game 1. The Knights played even worse as the Montreal Canadiens dominated the opening stanza. The Canadians also scored twice capped off by a Tyler Toffoli goal that had people buzzing. Montreal had eight of the nine high-danger chances in the first period.
Again, the expected goals for Montreal were way higher in that first period. Yes, the Canadiens leveled off after that but Vegas could not muster much more even though possession kept tilting. Overall high-danger scoring chances were nearly even after the first period. Montreal held their own and then there was something else.
It is hard to believe but the Montreal Canadiens have the league’s best penalty kill at just over 91% on the postseason. They are 6 for 6 overall in the two games versus the Vegas Golden Knights. The Golden Knights have had chances on the man advantage but have just missed or hit the goal post twice like in Game 2.
It is easy to see why the Vegas Golden Knights are still strong road NHL bets for Game 3.
Ahead of this important Game 3 showdown, the NHL odds are out and they’re in favor of Vegas. The Golden Knights have been listed between -155 and -175, while the Montreal Canadiens are hovering around +130 to +150. Even most Montreal fans know that this will get more difficult. A split felt like a win to the fans in Montreal. Carey Price had to stop 29 of 31 shots including 15 of 17 in the third period alone. The third period felt like an entire game for the Montreal Canadiens.
However, they did survive as the scene has shifted to Montreal. Again the key is what Peter DeBoer and Alex Pietrangelo said after Game 2:
It comes down to the starts. Vegas must get off to better starts. They did in Game 7 against Minnesota, did from Game 2 on against Colorado. For some reason, the Canadiens have found a way to keep Vegas almost sleepwalking in place. Part of it is the contained physicality. Vegas was able to attack and hit later in each game. When that translates to the start is when Montreal is in real trouble.
For NHL Picks, our best bet on Friday night features taking Vegas on the moneyline.
Vegas should win Game 3 on Friday. One of the big reasons is the fact that Vegas has been the better team when it comes to faceoffs. This is especially true in the defensive zone of Montreal. This directly led to two goals from Alex Pietrangelo.
That’s because Montreal had trouble at the worst times when it came to defensive zone faceoffs. Worse, they would not only lose the faceoff, but Vegas would also find players open in prime shooting opportunities. Four of six goals from Vegas in this series have resulted from set defensive zone faceoffs.
It is because of the Vegas balance in their top six. Those two lines have generated a great number of chances in the second and third periods. Now, the key is to get them to do it from the beginning.
The Las Vegas sportsbooks projected -160 to -165 odds for a Game 3, while Montreal is now a home underdog around +140. Earlier this postseason, Vegas was one of our better value picks to compete for the NHL Stanley Cup title. Now, Vegas slots right behind Tampa Bay.
Once upon a time, the Golden Knights were +250 after eliminating Colorado last Thursday. Now, Vegas’ Stanley Cup odds are right near Tampa Bay, as they now hold +125 odds to be crowned the Stanley Cup champions. Vegas defeating Colorado helped their odds immensely. Max Pacioretty leads the Golden Knights and has points in eight of his nine postseason games.
Now, Montreal has shown to have slightly better special teams in the early going. The Canadiens’ balanced attack combined with Cole Caufield, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and Nick Suzuki will cause Vegas some fits. Montreal will need Phillip Danault to be able to slow down Vegas’ top line. Vegas can and must rise about this from the start.
Montreal’s special teams keep changing the momentum of the series in their favor. Tyler Toffoli is one of those goal scorers who can change a series. The Canadiens have enough players who can score like Cole Caufield and Brendan Gallagher.
Montreal may only average 2.5 goals per game in the playoffs but they do have several players who score timely goals. That includes Kotkaniemi, Suzuki, and Joel Armia. The defense and special teams are strong but the real anchor is Carey Price. Price was stellar in Game 2 and must continue to be in Game 3 and beyond.
Take the Vegas Golden Knights to cover the moneyline.
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Chris Wassel is a skilled scribe who possesses a fervor for both sports and entertainment. Boasting a journalism background and over two decades of experience, he has crafted pieces that encompass a diverse array of sports including hockey, basketball, football, and others. His writing is characterized by its lucidity and sharpness, and provides a unique viewpoint on entertainment and political matters. While Chris primarily focuses on sports writing, he also writes about a wide range of subjects.