NHL picks: 4 best bets for Canadiens v Golden Knights Game 1
Our NHL expert has picked out his four best bets for Game 1 between the Montreal Canadiens and Vegas Golden Knights on Monday night.
With the Vegas Golden Knights so heavily favored, you might be looking for ways to up the value of the bet. However, I think the best way to go into this series, at least early on, is to err on the conservative side.
Vegas has lost Game 1 in each of its two previous series and has seen their offense sputter in the early portions of series to date. I still think they’re going to be very, very tough for Montreal to beat in Vegas, though.
The Montreal Canadiens present a variety of challenges, not the least of which is Carey Price, who has been the postseason’s best goaltender and has helped shut down two teams with a litany of offensive weapons. He is going to give the Habs a chance in every game, and Game 1 might be their best chance to jump on the Golden Knights.
A big reason I have less faith in the Habs at this point is the uncertainty surrounding top defenseman Jeff Petry. He is traveling to Vegas and has been practicing with a modified glove on his injured right hand, but it is unclear at this point if he will be in the lineup. Even if he is, he won’t be at 100 per cent and his offensive capabilities could be limited significantly. He only has three assists so far this postseason, but had 42 points in the regular season. With his hand injured, it’s hard to see him making as comprehensive an impact as he has at other points this season.
Vegas lost two games on home ice in their first-round series against the Minnesota Wild. I think this series could go in a similar fashion, but the Golden Knights are a better team now than they were in Round 1. With Max Pacioretty healthy and contributing, they’ve been able to supercharge their offense a bit more to challenge more teams. They won all three games on home ice in their last series and I don’t see them losing at home this round.
These two teams are unfamiliar with each other, and two of the best goalies of the entire postseason are going head-to-head. The Habs have been off for the last week, while the Golden Knights are coming off a harder-fought series with Colorado.
It’s hard to know for sure how conservative Montreal is going to be as they tend to be more of a counter-punch offense as opposed to a team that pushes the pace. Vegas is a bit more of a hybrid. They have the horses to push the pace, but they also play within a tighter defensive structure than either of the two teams Montreal played in the first two rounds.
Low-scoring games are going to benefit Montreal more and my bet is they’ll look to keep things tight and conservative in Game 1 and force Vegas to figure out how to break through the top defenses and Price.
Playing the team he captained for only the fourth time in his career, Pacioretty is coming into this series pretty hot. He has four goals and eight points in seven playoff games this season. He’s on pace for the most productive postseason of his career and there’s little doubt in my mind he has a little extra juice for this series.
Pacioretty had a goal and an assist over his previous three games against his former team. He has goals in three of his last four games and will continue to be looked to as a focal point of the Golden Knights’ offensive attack.
This is a bit of a more conservative bet as the Canadiens have been the best penalty-killing team in the entire postseason, having killed off a stunning 90.4 per cent of the power plays they’ve given up. Vegas has a much less stingy PK, but they also just went head-to-head with one of the deadliest power plays in the NHL during their series with the Avalanche.
On top of that, both teams are currently in the bottom half of postseason participants in power play efficiency.