Two Newcomers To Stanley Cup Final
That’s right, the expansion team is favored to capture the Stanley Cup in its inaugural season.
The Vegas Golden Knights (-125) or the Washington Capitals (+105) will win the NHL championship for the very first time (odds provided by Bovada).
The Golden Knights continue to rewrite the record books in their first season, while the Capitals have been this far in the playoffs just once in their 43-year history. They lost the Cup final 20 years ago in the 1997-98 season.
Game 1 in the best-of-seven final is Monday at T-Mobile Arena. Game time is 8 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. in Las Vegas.
The Park outside the new arena on game night used to be jammed with people wearing jerseys of the visiting team at the start of the season.
New York New York and the surrounding iconic casinos were filled with out-of-town guests waiting to see the visitors play hockey for the first time on the Las Vegas Strip. Not anymore.
It’s hard to spot those jerseys today. The Golden Knights have taken Vegas and the NHL by storm — finishing first in the Pacific Division and eliminating the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks and Winnipeg Jets on their way to the Stanley Cup Final.
Amazing Records On The Road
Even though Vegas has home-ice advantage in this series, it may not matter. The two Stanley Cup finalists have a combined 14-4 record on the road this playoff season. That’s unheard of.
Vegas is 12-3 overall in its three series wins. Washington is 12-7.
The Capitals may have the top two leading scorers in the playoffs in Evgeny Kuznetsov (11-13-24) and Alex Ovechkin (12-10-22), but the Golden Knights have the playoff MVP in goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
The three-time Stanley Cup champion has a 1.68 goals against average and .947 save percentage in 15 games. His opponent, Braden Holtby, has a 2.04 GAA and .924 save percentage in 18 games.
Jonathan Marchessault (8-10-18) is the leading playoff scorer for Vegas.
The Capitals have scored the most goals on the power play (17) and allowed the most goals while a man short (15). The Golden Knights are clicking at just 17.6% on the power play with nine goals. They have allowed 10 and kill off 82.5% of their penalties.
This should be a lengthy series as both teams have responded well to adversity in the postseason. In the end, though, Fleury will be the difference — again.
VGB’s pick — Vegas (-125)
Format For Stanley Cup Finals
Twelve playoff victories each has earned both teams a trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
The best of the East is the Washington Capitals, who were the No. 2 seed in their conference after winning the Metropolitan Division.
The top team in the West is the Vegas Golden Knights, who were also the No. 2 seed after winning the Pacific Division.
The Golden Knights have home-ice advantage in the best-of-seven final since they had the better regular-season record. Vegas beat Washington twice this year — 3-0 in Vegas and 4-3 in Washington.
Alternative Bets For The Stanley Cup
There are first-period prop bets, alternative over/under totals, whether the game will end in a tie in regulation, which team will be the first to score. You can even predict the exact margin of victory and whether the total goals scored will be odd or even.
There are also alternative bets on the overall series. Let’s take a look at a few and try to pick the winner (odds provided by Bovada).
Even though the Golden Knights have lost just three games in three series, the Capitals are 8-2 on the road in the playoffs. A Washington victory in Las Vegas is likely, which should push this series to six or seven games.
VGB’s pick — Over 5.5 games (-180)
The Golden Knights have ended all three series on the road this playoff season — in Los Angeles in Game 4, in San Jose in Game 6 and in Winnipeg in Game 5. Let’s go with the trend and the better odds.
VGB’s pick — In Washington (+115)
VGB’s Top 10 NHL Teams
(Current odds to win the Stanley Cup listed after team record. Odds provided by Bovada.)
- Vegas (51-24-7) -125 — Inaugural season one for the NHL record books.
- Washington (49-26-7) +105 — After years of heartbreak, Caps reach final.
- Tampa Bay (54-23-5) — Lightning lost three times at home to Capitals.
- Winnipeg (52-20-10) — Valuable experience gained for Jets in playoff run.
- Nashville (53-18-11) — Exec leaves Preds to become new GM with Wild.
- Boston (50-20-12) — Bruins led league with 21 wins after allowing first goal.
- Pittsburgh (47-29-6) — Penguins finished season with best power play.
- San Jose (45-27-10) — Sharks sign Kane to seven-year, $49M contract.
- Toronto (49-26-7) — Maple Leafs promote 31-year-old to general manager.
- Colorado (43-30-9) — Avalanche sign forward Bourque to one-year deal.