The Canadiens will try to even the series after dropping a 4-1 decision to the Golden Knights in the opening game of the series on Monday night. Let’s analyze this Wednesday night semifinal matchup and keep cashing our NHL picks!
Montreal Canadiens vs. Vegas Golden Knights
Wednesday, June 16, 2021 – 9:00 PM EDT at T-Mobile Arena
The Canadiens have been the Cinderella story of the postseason. They entered as the No. 4 seed in the North and with the lowest point total of the 16 playoff entries. After falling behind 3-1 in the opening series to the powerhouse of the North Division, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Habs proceeded to win the next three and advance to the next round against the Winnipeg Jets.
Winnipeg had made noise in their opening-round series by sweeping the favored Edmonton Oilers in four games. It was an intriguing clash of underdogs to be sure but the Canadiens were up for the task and gave the Jets a taste of their own medicine when they bounced Winnipeg out of the postseason in four straight games.
And with a full week to lick their wounds and prepare for the winners of the Vegas/Colorado showdown, Montreal was expected to be locked and loaded entering Sin City on Monday night. But the hype train was derailed in a hurry as Vegas snapped the Habs’ seven-game win streak and came away with a 4-1 Game 1 victory.
Knights Trying to Keep Home Ice Advantage
Shea Theodore drew first blood with a blast from the point that beat veteran netminder, Carey Price, over the stick hand side midway through the first period in Monday’s game 1 win. Vegas coach, Peter DeBoer, said that settled his team and set the stage for the rest of the game.
“The first goal was huge, and at the right time too in the first period for us with how we were playing. Gave us a little bit of an opportunity to take a deep breath and kind of gather ourselves and find our game. Thankfully (Fleury) was our best player, gave us a chance to get our legs, and then I really liked our game in the second and third.”
Alec Martinez would then put the Knights in front 2-0 early in the second period before Montreal went on the power play and Cole Caufield tallied for his first goal of the postseason to cut the lead to 2-1. Mattias Janmark and Nick Holden would go on to put the game on ice and give the Knights a 4-1 win and a 1-0 series lead.
What shouldn’t be overlooked is the routinely sublime play of Vegas goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury. MAF stopped 28 of 29 Montreal shots and notched his 90th playoff win which puts him just two away from tying Grant Fuhr on the all-time list in that category. Fleury has played in 13 of the Knights’ 14 postseason contests thus far and is 9-4 with a 1.84 goals against and a .927 save percentage.
Wanna Make a Bet?
The NHL odds in Game 2 are mimicking those in Game 1, revealing the Golden Knights as -270 home favorites at most of the best online sportsbooks, although Heritage is bucking that trend at a substantially discounted price of -249 in the early numbers. Here we have a duel between two superior battle-tested goalies in Carey Price and Marc-Andre Fleury but the Vegas defense and their prolific offense tilt this one in favor of the hometown team.
I believe Montreal’s run has come to an end and although we saw them pull a stunning reversal against Toronto in the first round after being down 3-1 in the series, let’s not forget that nobody chokes quite like the Leafs. Both teams are the definition of true grit but Vegas comes equipped with more offensive firepower, currently averaging 3.14 goals per game to just 2.42 GPG for the Habs, in the playoffs thus far.
And although I love a bargain, I must remember the age-old sports betting maxim - there is no value in losing. Therefore, while I admire Montreal’s postseason tenacity, I cannot overlook the fact that they are not only outmatched in all facets of the game but the bonus for Vegas is having one of the best money goalies the game has ever seen patrolling the crease in the form of Marc-Andre Fleury.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.